Beyond the Cusp

June 15, 2011

Yale Ends Research into Anti-Semitism

Yale has called an end of YIISA (Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism) with the excuse that, according to Donald Green, Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, YIISA had been “generating little scholarly work that earned publication in highly regarded journals, and its courses attracted few students.” This is excellent news as one would hate for the reason to have anything to do with Yale having been heavily seeking backing from Saudi Arabia. This news has come fairly close on the heels of the 2010 YIISA sponsored conference entitled, “Global Anti-Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity.” It had been noted by Abby Wisse Schachter in her New York Post op-ed of June 7 that studying “Christian anti-Semitism is fine; political Jew-hatred, like communist or fascist anti-Semitism, no problem. But get anywhere near Muslim or Middle Eastern anti-Semitism, as presenters at YIISA’s conference did last year, and you’ve crossed the line.” She also reported that subsequent to the conference, “the PLO representative in America scolded the school’s president, Richard Levin, complaining of the attention paid to anti-Semitism among Palestinians and Muslims.” The actual missive sent by Maen Rashid Areikat stated, “It’s shocking that a respected institution like Yale would give a platform to these right-wing extremists and their odious views. I urge you to publicly dissociate yourself and Yale University from the anti-Arab extremism and hate-mongering that were on display during this conference.”

Where many articles have defended YIISA conferences and studies had generated great volumes of work from each of their sponsored conferences, actual research papers, and numerous publications, that is irrelevant as is the list of notable luminaries and celebrated academics who had participated, spoke, and attended events sponsored by YIISA events. What is important is whether or not it is relevant to study occurrences of anti-Semitism in these modern times. If we are to judge YIISA by the Yale standard, apparently between the lack of interest in courses offered by YIISA and the fact that YIISA had to stretch their research into anti-Semitism to include the one area where the combined wisdom states that anti-Semitism is nonexistent, namely the Muslim World. If Maen Rashid Areikat is to be believed, and who could doubt the Palestinian “ambassador”, only right-wing extremists possessing odious views could fashion anti-Semitism from any actions, statements, history, or other sources in the Muslim World. Only those possessed by anti-Muslim extremism and hate-mongering could make such preposterous claims which could never be backed by real or true research. Yet, in reality, this is not such an outrageous statement as it might at first appear. Let’s look a little deeper into this line of reasoning.

I have lost count on how many times I have heard somebody claiming that they are not anti-Semitic, they are only against the Zionists, the Israeli government, the Israeli military, or even only those crazed religious Jewish zealots on the far right. It must be that if you do not hate every Jew, then you are not truly anti-Semitic. Choose one single Jew to stand with you and you are inoculated against being an anti-Semite, and with groups like J Street and Peace Now, finding such a Jew to stand with you in condemning all those “other” Jews is not that difficult. Even Iranian President Ahmadinejad found a group of extremely religious Jews from the Neturei Karta to stand with him in Tehran during the “A World Without Zionism or America Conference” in Tehran in 2005, so how difficult could it be to find your own token Jew or Jews to stand with you against those “other kinds” of Jews. But the real question comes down to whether or not one can be against only the Zionists, the Israeli government, the Israeli military, or even only those crazed religious Jewish zealots on the far right while not actually using that as a blind behind which they can couch their anti-Semitism in complete safety from criticism and accusations?

I wish somebody with more wisdom than I would derive simple guidelines which can be used to discern real anti-Semitism from honest oppositions to Zionism, Israel, or extreme rightist Jews (I guess like me). One of the measures is to discern if the claimant holds Israel, Zionists et al to a different standard than other countries and groups. Do the arguments being used appear to hinge on the fact that Jews are concerned is more crucial more than the rest of the argument? If the argument revolves around Israel or Zionists, is the basis of the argument that being Jews should not be considered sufficient reason to found a country. The reason this is important is because the Jewish people have more history than do the original founders of many modern countries, the United States being a prime example. Americans are a different people who, as a whole, attach far more importance to individual freedoms and responsibilities than most of the rest of the world. This makes American different and thus a people despite being made up of people from differing heritages and countries. Nobody would claim the French do not deserve to have their country. Same goes for the British, Italians Russians, Chinese, Japanese, and so forth. Then if one claims that Jews do not deserve a country of their own, the only way that is not anti-Semitic is if they are calling for all nations to be dissolved as do those calling for a One World Government. Pretty much the determining factor when discerning anti-Semitism from honest criticism comes down to is the basis of the argument made in order to deny the right of Israel to exist or for the Jews to have autonomy. If the argument being made is only applied to the Jewish State, Israel, singling it out from similar actions by other countries and solely criticizing Israel while ignoring all others who have similar actions or properties, then it is probably driven by anti-Semitism. For the record, yes, there exists honest criticism of Israel and some can even be found in other posts on this site. But, from what I have witnessed, though I am bias, a large majority of the complaints against Israel, Zionists, et al is simply a form of anti-Semitism attempting to hide behind false premises. When Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Hezballah leader Nasrallah, Hamas leader Mishal, or numerous others make criticisms against Israel, they are actually making criticisms against all Jews and are practicing anti-Semitism. Many Imams and other figures from the Muslim World will use Israel and Jew as if they are interchangeable with absolutely no difference in their meanings. That is most definitely anti-Semitism. The reason people in the West do not hear of this phenomenon is because they make these statements only in Arabic and those who do speak in English to the West have a completely separate and different tone, demeanor, and story line when speaking English. What has always amazed me is that the vast majority of Western reporters and politicians act as if translating from Arabic or Farsi into English is impossible as Arabic and Farsi are actually codes that cannot be broken. Thankfully there exists CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting), MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), and to a more limited extent, the Israeli Press where people can find out what is actually being said by the leaders and Imams in the Middle East when they are speaking in Arabic to their people. The world cannot have too much truth and these two organizations do a valuable and great service to truth.

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