The Israeli nuclear weapons in the room
1 hour ago
When the axing of YIISA was announced, after Yale’s faculty review committee concluded that its research and publications were not of sufficiently high quality, the Yale authorities indicated at the time that they would find some other means to continue serious research on antisemitism at the university. In the stampede to condemn Yale, its critics either ignored this message or dismissed it. Now that it looks certain that a new venture, headed by a Yale faculty member with excellent scholarly credentials, is to be set up, I wonder whether those who wildly accused Yale of all manner of nefarious reasons for closing YIISA will now withdraw their accusations and apologise? I’d advise Yale not to hold its breath.Well, turning to Engage, we see that Antony Lerman was right to advise Yale not hold its breath.
I don't know why they centre their writing. Maybe it looks more dramatic."Recently, Yale University officials informed us of their precipitous decision to close YIISA, The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism.It became evident that YIISA and Yale University have different visions and approaches to the study of antisemitism. YIISA, like Yale, believes in the necessity to publish in top tier journals. YIISA scholars, its graduate and post-doctorate research fellows, esteemed senior visiting professors, and scholars associated with YIISA have done so at a high caliber and with success.
Now let's quickly turn to Antony Lerman's announcement of the closing of YIISA:YIISA, however, is committed to critical engaged scholarship with a broader approach to the complex, and at times controversial context of contemporary global antisemitism.It is this mission that my colleagues at YIISA so eloquently and with a sense of integrity engaged. This was reflected, for example, in the conference, “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity”. Held in August 2010 it was the largest academic conference on the study of antisemitism ever.
YIISA’s approach was fully exposed when it announced its first major conference, ‘Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity’, to take place in August 2010. A huge, 3-day jamboree, with 4 breakout sessions twice-a-day and 3 or 4 keynote lectures/plenary events each day, the conference was attended by many genuine scholars of antisemitism presenting bona fide academic papers, but a full panoply of participants attesting to the ‘new antisemitism’ agenda of YIISA was present. In May Small had already confirmed that ‘The largest number of papers, and therefore reflecting the greatest concern, address contemporary antisemitism and the demonization of Israel and those associated or made to be associated with Israel.’ There was a whole session devoted to the bogus concept of Jewish self-hatred, a keynote lecture by Itamar Marcus, a leader of the settler movement on the West Bank, titled ‘The central role of Palestinian antisemitism in creating the Palestinian identity’ and the conference opened with a speech by the Director for Combating Antisemitism at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The demonization of left-liberal Jewish critics of Israel and of Palestinians, the promotion of a Zionist-centric approach to antisemitism, the distortion and exaggeration of Arab and Palestinian sympathy for antisemitism, the presence of presenters from NGO Monitor, Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI – all of these elements of the ‘culture’ of the programme fundamentally undermined YIISA’s claim to academic respectability.Sometime in between the closure of YIISA and the announcement of YPSA, Engage's Dr Hirsh had an article in the Jewish Chronicle, that seemed to suggest that the closure of YIISA was an example of "a menacing zeitgeist", ie, antisemitism, even in America. Here is the conclusion:
But for some reason, the JC didn't publish his whole article. Here's the piece on Engage:
There were things wrong with YIISA but they should have been put right rather than mobilised as reasons to close it down. An interest in contemporary antisemitism is increasingly regarded as an indicator of vulgarity, dishonesty and selfish Jewish nationalism. Yale should have resisted this menacing anti-intellectual zeitgeist, not lent its own reputation to it.Sometimes Americans have thought of the "new antisemitism" as an overseas phenomenon of degenerate Europe. Some American Jews, who had felt safe from antisemitism, will now be hurting.
[This following passage was cut by the JC - DH] Robert Fine, Moishe Postone, Brian Cheyette, Lars Rensmann, David Seymour, Annette Seidel-Arpaci, Michael Waltzer, Catherine Chatterley, David Feldman and Martha Nussbaum all went to YIISA, radical antiracist scholars, who understand that critical theory was forged in the crucible of the struggle against antisemitism. Dovid Katz, expert in the antisemitism which is portraying Holocaust perpetrators as anticommunist partisans; Deborah Lipstadt and Anthony Julius, scholars first, and heroes of the struggle against Holocaust denial; Jeffrey Herf, Esther Webman and Matthias Kuntzel who unearthed the evidence connecting Nazism to Islamism; Nora Gold and Phyllis Chesler who experienced and analyzed the back-stab of antisemitism in the feminist movement; the heavyweights of German anti-antisemitism; experts in Muslim, Islamist and Iranian antisemitism; veterans of Durban; the chroniclers of today’s British antisemitism, Shalom Lappin, Paul Iganski, David Cesarani, Michael Keith, Barry Kosmin and Mike Whine.Just google at random some of those names. One or two, maybe more, might be genuine scholars of antisemitism but I wonder why the JC left out that piece of the article, even on-line. And I notice Hirsh doesn't mention Itamar Marcus, a leader of the settler movement on the West Bank, in his list of great scholarly heroes or his "keynote lecture....titled ‘The central role of Palestinian antisemitism in creating the Palestinian identity’".
This represents a slipping of the mask. Advocates of the EUMC working definition of antisemitism have long argued that all the fears of the working definition's opponents have been groundless by reference to a little preamble to the section aimed at protecting Israel from criticism and condemnation. Let's see the that bit again:As a life long socialist and a member of the AUT/UCU for almost 42 years, I could not have imagined that anything could have made me resign from the union. I have grown accustomed to the UCU’s annual adoption of illegal Israel boycott motions. But my imagination was obviously limited: the official UCU rejection of the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) working definition of anti-Semitism has accomplished just that. It has brought about my resignation from the union.One part of that working definition rejected by the union stands out: it is anti-Semitic to ‘deny the right of the Jewish people to self-determination’, within some borders, unspecified as what they might be. It is hard for me to comprehend how anyone could consider this relatively anodyne claim as unacceptable, let alone reject it as a current form of anti-Semitism, which it most certainly is.
Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:Israel advocates, and only Israel advocate, argue that this is simply a good faith way of establishing that if you say any of those things in a certain environment or discussion then, the could and context caveats would suggest that a given statement was not antisemitic whereas in another context the same thing would be antisemitic. So in what context could it not be considered antisemitic to hold Jews collectively responsible for the actions of a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing, segregationist laws and relentless violence? I can't think of any. I understand that it could well be construed as antisemitic to make the perfectly reasonable statement that the State of Israel simply has no right to exist or that Jews are simply not a legitimate case for self-determination but to make such statements directed at Jews because that would be holding all Jews collectively responsible for the establishing and maintaining of the State of Israel and, presumably all of the aforementioned behaviours required to establish and maintain said state. But I'm suspicious of whoever proposed and whoever supports this bogus definition. I want to know when or where they accept that it is not antisemitic to advocate the abolition of Jewish statehood.
• Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, for example by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.
• Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
• Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (for example claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis.
• Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
• Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
The EUMC Definition goes on to state that criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.
I know some people play all sorts of games with the concept of self-determination but the working definition makes it clear that "claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour" is an example of "denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination". And Professor Ruben cannot "comprehend how anyone could consider this relatively anodyne claim as unacceptable". Because it involves ethnic cleansing, stupid!As a life long socialist and a member of the AUT/UCU for almost 42 years, I could not have imagined that anything could have made me resign from the union. I have grown accustomed to the UCU’s annual adoption of illegal Israel boycott motions. But my imagination was obviously limited: the official UCU rejection of the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) working definition of anti-Semitism has accomplished just that. It has brought about my resignation from the union.One part of that working definition rejected by the union stands out: it is anti-Semitic to ‘deny the right of the Jewish people to self-determination’, within some borders, unspecified as what they might be. It is hard for me to comprehend how anyone could consider this relatively anodyne claim as unacceptable, let alone reject it as a current form of anti-Semitism, which it most certainly is.
A real fighter for peace.
Mr Haw, 62, set up a camp in London's Parliament Square in 2001 in protest against UK and US foreign policy.In March 2011, a High Court ruling obtained by London's mayor forced him to move his camp on to the pavement.In a statement posted on Mr Haw's website, his family said he had died on 18 June in Germany, where he had been receiving medical treatment.They said Mr Haw, from Redditch, Worcestershire, passed away in his sleep in no pain.
An Israeli citizen may have his classification as "Jewish" withdrawn by the Interior Ministry in the wake of a newspaper interview he gave. In an interview for the Family Affair section of Haaretz Magazine, in May, Itai Bar, a resident of Kibbutz Shoval in the south of the country, disclosed he wasn't Jewish.Bar, 35, was asked by journalists Avner and Reli Abrahami to recount his family story for their weekly column. Bar's father, a Catholic, arrived at the kibbutz as a volunteer after the Six-Day War, where he met Bar's mother, the daughter of a Catholic mother and a Holocaust survivor father. Bar was born in Shoval and Hebrew is his native language. He mentioned in the interview that he is mistakenly described as Jewish in his ID card, but still serves as a "Shabbes goy" at the kibbutz dairy.
So if it doesn't "alter Bar's legal status in Israel" what's it all about?Three days ago, Bar arrived at the population registrar office in Be'er Sheva to obtain a document he needed. To his surprise, the clerk there told him his case was "blocked." He said that there was an alert about my nationality, following a report. I asked who reported it, and she said she couldn't tell me, but it might have something to do with the Haaretz article. From her I went to another clerk, who started asking me about my grandparents. I told her she was infringing upon my civil rights."
Later on, Bar found himself arguing with the deputy director of the office about his Jewishness. "She asked me if I was Jewish, and I said yes, I was circumcised and I celebrate the Jewish holidays."The deputy director subsequently unlocked Bar's file to allow him to receive the document he came for, but warned him that his case was being forwarded to the Interior Ministry office in Jerusalem. When he pressed for the source of the information, he was told it came from the spokeswoman of the Interior Ministry.The spokeswoman, Sabine Haddad, strongly denied yesterday she was the source of the information, and stressed that the process would not alter Bar's legal status in Israel.She said that the spokesperson's office was charged with responding to media queries and preparing press clippings, not investigating people's Jewishness.
Funnily enough Hirsh failed to link to what it was he was responding to and refused to publish Greenstein's response to his response. He simply linked to the SA Jewish Report with his letter in it.RAN GREENSTEIN wants to get us bogged down in the detail of wording and of who said what. But what is important is whether we choose to embrace the politics of peace and reconciliation between Israel and Palestine; or whether we choose the politics of siding with one set of ardent nationalists in their war against the other.Greenstein does not support a peace between Israel and Palestine. He insists instead that Israel and Palestine should be thought of as one divided people who are ruled over by an apartheid regime.He wants to dismantle Israel, like the apartheid regime in South Africa was dismantled, and he proposes instead a regime of individual rights within a new state.But Israel is a nation, the nation descended from those who were driven out of Europe, out of Russia and out of the Middle East by 20th century anti-Semitism.Israel is not an apartheid regime, it is a life-raft state, and it will not allow itself to be dismantled. Given this fact, Ran’s plan for treating Israelis in the way that the apartheid regime was treated, can only be a programme for conquest. The conquest of Israel is, hopefully, impossible and would in any case, never lead to a democratic outcome.It is quite wrong to tell Palestinians that Israel must be finally defeated before they can be free, because it is like telling them that they can never be free.But Palestinians can be free. Even the most terrible and entrenched conflicts between nations come to an end. They don’t come to an end with the final defeat of one or the other, but with a peace agreement between the two.President Barack Obama was right when he outlined the deal: an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and both nations to recognise the sovereignty of the other.Greenstein’s “Boycotts, Divestments, Sanctions” slogan tries to exclude Israelis, and only Israelis, from the cultural, academic, sporting and economic life of humanity.It is war by other means, it is not peace and reconciliation. And such a politics of exclusion, aimed at the descendents of the Jews who have already been boycotted and pushed out, is a politics which is insufficiently sensitive to the history of anti-Semitism which not only hangs over Jews, but over us all.Ran Greenstein, who has given up on Israelis, has despaired of building the Israeli peace movement, imagines that peace in his homeland can be built by demonising them here, and in the UK and around the world.He thinks that anybody who disagrees with him should be denounced as supporters of apartheid.Instead of the politics of anger and desperation, we should back those in both Israel and Palestine who want peace and who stand against the demonisation of the other.David Hirsh
Goldsmiths College, University of London
This link to Jews for Justice for Palestinians is more reliable as the SA Jewish Report updates its letters page every week. By the way, that means that Engage is currently linking to Ran Greenstein's withering response that Hirsh apparently didn't want his readers to see.David Hirsh does not think that “”wording”” and “”who said what”” are important. This is curious for an academic who deals with little else. But words do matter: contrary to his claims, I support peace between Israel and Palestine, conceived as democratic, mutli-ethnic societies, which guarantee equal individual and collective rights to all their people. I said as much at the UJ seminar and in my letter to SA Jewish Report, to which he was responding.If words (and reality) mattered to Hirsh, he would understand that ‘’dismantling’’ apartheid meant the creation of a democratic state in South Africa, not the destruction of white people. Not only do I not want to ‘’dismantle’’ Israeli Jews, but I wish for them to live long and prosper as equal citizens, together with their fellow residents of the land. Why does the spectre of equality and democracy haunt Hirsh?The real challenge facing us is to find ways to reach that goal. Certainly not by using violence to attack civilians (a practice employed to a far greater extent, resulting in far greater destruction, by the state of Israel than by Palestinians). Rather, it is by waging non-violent campaigns, peaceful protests, legal challenges, educational initiatives and, yes, sanctions as well. These have been used in many cases and constitute one important peaceful tactic, among others.Are Israelis singled out here? Hirsh seems unaware that his own country has imposed severe sanctions and used violent means of censure against numerous targets in the last two decades: PLO, Hamas, Burma, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Belarus, Serbia and, most recently, Libya and Syria, have been subject to sanctions and military campaigns far more aggressive and violent than Israel is likely ever to face. Israel has been singled out indeed, for receiving vast sums of military and financial aid that allow it to entrench the occupation, and diplomatic immunity by the USA for its acts of violence against civilians.Instead of pursuing his campaign of manufactured hysteria and distortions against those working for justice and democracy, Hirsh could support the thousands of Palestinians and Israelis who protest peacefully in Bil’in, Ni’ilin, Sheikh Jarrah, and elsewhere in Israel/Palestine. These young activists do not support one national group against another, but campaign for members of both to unite in order to stop oppression and create a secure democratic future for all. This is my goal as well, and should be supported by all progressive people wherever they are.
I specifically said that YIISA published some excellent papers and ran an exciting seminar series!And here's Lerman:
you provide as your first example of ‘did produce some’—again, a comment that sounds like you’re really saying ‘did produce some, but not very much’—the Hirsh paper, which I briefly criticise in my post. If that paper had been submitted to me by an undergraduate, I would have given it back with the following instructions: ‘Start again, curb your verbosity, cut out the value-laden attacks on people for whom you clearly have an animus, work out precisely what questions you want to ask and proceed on the basis of a clearly worked-out structure. And no more than 30 pages maximum. There are some good ideas here, but they’re just not thought through.’So the best of times and the worst of times for Dr Hirsh. On the one hand he is getting a bit of publicity. On the other hand, er, he is getting a bit of publicity.
For some years now I have argued that the academic study of contemporary antisemitism has been badly compromised by the growing politicisation of the subject. Back in September 2008, in an op-ed piece for Ha’aretz, I wrote:Practically the entire business of studying and analyzing current anti-Semitism has been hijacked and debased by people lacking any serious expertise in the subject, whose principal aim is to excoriate Jewish critics of Israel and to promote the ‘anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism’ equation.A number of institutions, supposedly tasked with undertaking serious research on antisemitism, have contributed to this situation. One of the foremost of these is the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA), established in 2006, and I had it in my sights when I wrote my op-ed.
Yup, the ADL and AJC are big hitters in the field of "debasement of serious antisemitism research".Unsurprisingly, organizations that have contributed to the debasement of serious antisemitism research are not happy. The Anti-Defamation League’s National Director, Abe Foxman, said:Especially at a time when anti-Semitism continues to be virulent and anti-Israel parties treat any effort to address issues relating to anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism as illegitimate, Yale’s decision is particularly unfortunate and dismaying . . . it leaves the impression that the anti-Jewish forces in the world achieved a significant victory.The American Jewish Committee said it was surprised and saddened by the decision. AJC’s Executive Director, David Harris, warned: ‘If Yale now leaves the field, it will create a very regrettable void’.
And then back down to the debasement:Foxman and Harris were relatively measured in comparison with the report in the New York Post headed ‘Yale’s gift to antisemitism’. The writer claimed that Yale ‘almost certainly [decided on closure] because YIISA refused to ignore the most virulent, genocidal and common form of Jew-hatred today: Muslim anti-Semitism.’ She also added: ‘Some suggest that Yale feels it can act with impunity because, earlier this spring, one of YIISA’s most powerful backers died; without his money and influence, the school can rid itself of a politically inconvenient nuisance.’YIISA’s funders are not revealed by the institution so it’s possible that closure may have something to do with the withdrawal of funds, though the story may just be a rumour set running by those who suspect an anti-Israel agenda at work. But whatever the specific reason, it was obvious from YIISA’s inception that it would promote the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’, focus heavily on criticism of Israel and prioritise the issue of Muslim antisemitism.
Here's the list:Among the first papers presented at YIISA seminars were those by Dr David Hirsh (2005), a sociologist at Goldsmiths, University of London and founder of Engage, a website dedicated to opposing the boycott of Israel, Professor Shalom Lappin (2007), professor of computational linguistics at Kings College, University of London, and Professor Irwin Cotler (2006), professor of law at McGill University and a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. All three are well-known for their highly politicised approaches to current antisemitism.Hirsh’s paper was essentially a continuation of his political battles with the anti-Zionist left over the issue of boycotting Israel, which he claimed was an expression of antisemitism. Lappin’s academic work is not in the field of antisemitism yet he was regarded by YIISA as a proper person to present a paper that linked modern anti-Israel sentiment in the UK with centuries-old English antisemitism and claimed that the political class in contemporary Britain had abandoned the Jews – and this was written at a time when, in Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government, Jews in Britain had never had a more pro-Jewish and pro-Israel national political leadership. Cotler has probably done more than anyone to popularize the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’ having been responsible for coining the phrase ‘Israel is the Jew among the nations’. His paper, effectively an exercise in sophisticated hasbara (propaganda for Israel), likened the current situation to the 1930s and developed a framework for identifying forms of criticism of Israel as antisemitic.
The director of YIISA, Dr Charles Small, an academic with little experience of antisemitism research, had clearly put down a marker that Israel was going to be the central concern of YIISA.....Not all who have given seminar papers or lectures at YIISA have been quite as blatantly partisan as my three first examples, though one or two have been worse. (A list of some of those exemplifying YIISA’s approach can be found at the foot of this post.*)
Some of the individuals who spoke at YIISA and are representative of its politicised orientation: Anne Bayefsky, Barry Kosmin, Edward Kaplan, Michael Oren, Emanuele Ottolenghi, Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Dina Porat, Matthias Kuntzel, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Ruh Wisse, Gerald Steinberg, Alan Dershowitz, Hillel Neuer, Kenneth Levin, Richard Landes, Melanie Phillips, Shimon Samuels, Robert Wistrich.So how good is the news of the demise of YIISA?
The wider issue raised by YIISA’s imminent closure is whether it’s a watershed moment representing a rolling back of the politicisation of academic antisemitism research. I doubt very much whether the UK Universities and College Union’s decision to distance itself from the EUMC ‘working definition’ of antisemitism can be linked to it, although the vote brought to public attention that the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency, has in effect dropped the definition – a potentially damaging blow to the lifespan of the ‘working definition’.Hmm, end of YIISA and ditching of the EUMC working definition - good linkage!
Finally Lerman gives the last word to Jerry Haber, the Magnes Zionist, who he finds in similar celebratory mood over the axing of YIISA:More significant, although it’s not in the US, is the example set by the establishment of thePears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London. Its Director, Professor David Feldman, an eminent expert on Jewish history, is taking a rigorously objective academic approach to his task, while not in any way ignoring the complex interconnections between contemporary antisemitism, Israel, Islam, Islamophobia, racism in general and policy questions. Feldman has won plaudits across the academic world for his stance, which gives the lie to the arguments of Cohen and Glick that antisemitism cannot be studied dispassionately and value-free. And while the Pears Institute is not in the US, the international nature of the field of contemporary antisemitism research means that what Feldman does could have a very significant impact beyond the shores of the UK. With YIISA out of the picture and Pears at Birkbeck looking very secure, some sanity may now return to the discipline.I say ‘may’ because the combined forces of those institutions and groups which have a vested interest in maintaining the ‘new antisemitism’-based politicised approach to the subject are very strong. YIISA was important, but the ship sails on with the Israeli government and the entire political right-wing in Israel blowing a powerful wind into its sails. And it’s not impossible that American Jewish funders will try to persuade Yale to change its mind, or get the money together to transfer YIISA to another institution, or set it up as in independent body.
So, good news for now. Within a couple of weeks of each other, Yale and the UK's Universities and Colleges Union have dealt major blows to zionism's antisemitism industry.I am by no means alone in having smelled a rat when YIISA came on the scene....The Magnes Zionist blog also knew the score. In a post on 9 JuneJerry Haber cuts to the quick:The moral of this story? Take an important phenomenon which is worthy of study and have it hijacked by people with an ideological agenda, who organize conferences that revel in Islamaphobia and rightwing Zionism, mixing mediocre academics and non-academics with serious scholars, all of whom have axes to grind – in short, trivialize anti-Semitism in order to silence critics of Israel – and sooner or later, God willing, real academics will write it off as an embarrassment.
Yup, we're in antisemitic in effect if not in intent territory. Ok, let's accept that. Does that still require a separate interdisciplinary initiative? Can antisemitism really not be dealt with by some of the "best friends" that Ben feels so slighted by.
Here, in essence, is what Yale University told me on June 7, after I contacted its communications office to ask why an institute dedicated to the study of antisemitism had been shut down: some of our best friends are Jews.“As you may be aware,” Yale spokesman Thomas Conroy wrote in an email, “Yale has long been a leader in Judaic research, teaching and collections. Yale’s Judaic Studies program has outstanding faculty members who conduct path-breaking research and inspire graduate and undergraduate students who choose from scores of courses and may earn degrees. The University library’s Judaica Collection is one of the strongest in the Western Hemisphere. The Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies is a historic treasure and exceptional scholarly resource.”All well and good. But why, I asked Conroy, was this information pertinent to the closure of the Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), just five years after it opened its doors? “Yale has certainly made, and is making a contribution…through scholarly endeavors related to Jewish civilization, history and contemporary thought and issues,” he replied. “I point it out to add context.”I have no doubt that Conroy made this statement with the best of intentions. However, his words reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the very phenomenon which YIISA will no longer be able to probe. For any institution that invokes its munificence towards Jewish civilization, in answer to a question about its commitment to scholarly research on antisemitism, clearly doesn’t grasp what antisemitism is and what it represents.One of the pitfalls of the contemporary antisemitism debate is that there is too much focus on intent.
If scholarly enquiry into antisemitism is, then, a legitimate pursuit, what was the problem with YIISA? According to Yale, YIISA was an academic dud. Professor Donald Green, the director of Yale’s Institute for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS), said that YIISA’s papers failed to excite the interest of “top-tier journals in behavioral science, comparative politics, or history.” Students were not attracted to its programs. Contrast that, Green went on, with another ISPS program “that straddles social science and humanities, Agrarian Studies, [and] has produced dozens of path-breaking scholarly books and essays.”It's an "academic dud" and not very popular among students. That seems fair enough but not to Ben:
So why didn't they get the resources. Did they ask anyone and if so, who? We'll never know but Ben has only been warming up.
This is an unfair comparison. Few scholars will bat an eyelid at the mention of Agrarian Studies, whereas the idea of studying contemporary antisemitism — the “historical” kind is a little more acceptable — will meet with howls of disapproval in countless political science departments. Just by existing, YIISA was going against the grain. In that kind of environment, getting your papers published was never going to be easy.YIISA, in point of fact, did produce some important scholarly work during its short life-span, including three outstanding papers by David Hirsh (on anti-Zionism and antisemitism), Bassam Tibi (on the Islamization of antisemitism), and Yaakov Kirschen, a.k.a the cartoonist “Dry Bones” (on antisemitism and ‘coded images’). Its regular seminars featured some of the leading thinkers on the subject, like Moishe Postone and Gregory Stanton. Those in the YIISA community with whom I spoke emphasized that they wanted to do even more, citing lack of resources as the main reason why they didn’t.
This is where the politics comes in. In my correspondence with Thomas Conroy, I pointed out that YIISA’s 2010 conference, which extensively examined antisemitic manifestations in Iran and in the wider Arab/Muslim world, had provoked angry responses from, among others, Maen Areikat, the PLO’s Washington representative, who ranted about “anti-Arab extremism and hate-mongering.” “Yale doesn’t make decisions about programs (or individual scholars) based on outside criticism,” Conroy told me.Even if Conroy is correct here, Yale’s decisions resonate far beyond its ivory towers. It beggars belief that Yale’s academics did not pause to consider that closing YIISA would be interpreted by Areikat — a man who recycles the idiocy that Arabs cannot be antisemites because they are “Semites” — as a vindication of his attack. Moreover, Areikat was not alone. Among those joining the anti-YIISA clamor were Philip Weiss, the pea-brained anti-Zionist blogger sponsored by The Nation magazine, and his sidekick Ben White, a frankly creepy figure who couches his antisemitism in the language of Christian liberation theology. After the YIISA conference, this duo — of all people!! — whined about the “besmirching of Yale University by the presence of this festival of propaganda.”Of course, were Yale to organize an academic conference on the subject of “Israeli apartheid,” Weiss, White et al. would be salivating at the prospect. For critics like these, academic integrity is only relevant when it boosts their argument.Any dispassionate survey of the social sciences reveals that there is precious little “value-free” research going on anywhere. I only have to look at my own alma mater, the London School of Economics, which, inter alia, has accepted funding from the murderous Gadhafi regime, and gave the clownish Naomi Klein a fellowship. Or I could venture into upper Manhattan, where Joseph Massad’s Columbia University classes on Middle East politics are their own “festival of propaganda.” The point is, why pick on YIISA alone?
“We are quickly turning into South Africa” noted Idan Ofer to the Israeli paper Calcalist, a prominent Israeli player in international ventures and future technologies. “The economic damage in the wake of boycott and sanctions will be felt by every family in Israel. The top percentiles, members of the middle class and first and foremost the distressed classes,” he added.
Well now there are two letters protesting the move against the peace camp:Brian Haw's anti-war protest camp has dominated Parliament Square for 10 years, cut off from curious pedestrians by the busy lanes of traffic that surround it.Now Westminster City Council wants to change that by installing a pedestrian crossing. Although they claim their intention is merely to make it easier for Londoners and tourists to access the square, its creation is also likely to result in the eviction of Mr Haw and the protesters gathered around him.In March, a High Court ruling obtained by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson forced Mr Haw to move his camp from the grass on the square to the pavement.Now the council, which is responsible for the pavement, is seeking to repeal his right to sleep there too – by establishing that he and his fellow protesters are "proving an obstruction to the footway" and acting as a "hindrance" to pedestrians. Mr Haw, a carpenter from Worcestershire, set up his camp in 2001 and remained there until September last year, when he was flown to Germany to be treated for lung cancer.
It's been a remarkable protest. Still it ain't over til it's over.So it looks like a pedestrian crossing will spell the end for Brian Haw and his peace camp (report, 3 June)?This is a great shame because, even for those not directly associated with his cause, the camp provides a important (and colourful) focus for our consciences in stark contrast to all-pervasive advertising which dominates the rest of London aggressively encouraging us to indulge in "the latest gadgets, cheap flights and various forms of fast food".In my view, we could do well to have a little more "conscience" and a lot less "stuff". Indeed, Councillor Colin Barrow mentions, "We of course support the right to protest and will continue to do so [...]". If this is the case, why not lift the ban on protests within a half-mile radius of Parliament Square?Alan MitchamCologne, GermanyWhen I first visited London after moving back here from America, I was delighted by the sight of Brian Haw's protest camp in Parliament Square. What a lesson, for tourists from China or even America, in the tolerance that ornaments a free society.How disillusioning to learn that our society, too, has set over itself humourless and narrow-minded repressors such as the Mayor of London and the Westminster council ("Pedestrian crossing may spell the end for Westminster peace camp", 3 June).Guy OttewellLyme Regis, Dorset