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With the End of Anti-Semitism Studies, Not Another Jewish Dime To Yale

June 17th 2011

Jewish Topics - YIISA

“The powers that be at Yale University view the institution as a mountain,” a faculty member who wished to remain anonymous recently told me over the phone, as we discussed their announcement of the imminent closure of YIISA, the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemetism. “They can’t be moved,” he continued, “They are not worried about the reaction from Jewish leaders, and there is no chance that they will go back on the decision.”

The indicators that the decision was politically motivated are numerous and well documented, specifically by Abby Wisse Schachter of the New York Post and Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post.

It seems that the greatest misdemeanor of Dr. Charles Asher Small, YIISA’s director, is his insistence on highlighting Islamist Antisemetism, a particular strain that has proven to be most lethal in recent years. As my friend at Yale concluded, “If he would have laid low he probably would have survived.” Small’s mistake was that he acted on his belief that the study of Antisemetism is by no means limited to the hypothetical or the historic but centers on the present, and how it has impacted on real Jewish lives in the here and now.

After all, when was the last time a neo-Nazi slaughtered a Jewish couple and their infant children in their home, murdered a Chabad Rabbi and his pregnant wife or beheaded a Jewish journalist on camera? It is abundantly clear that the greatest modern day physical threat to the Jewish people, and to Western civilization for that matter, is the spread of Islamism and its barbaric teachings of hatred. As such, the work of this policy influencing research center is not only critical to the immediate safety of Jews around the world but also for ensuring the continuity of Western democratic society as we know it.

It is for this reason that the closure of this program is a travesty of the highest order. As Rabbi Shmully Hecht, founder of Yale’s Jewish society, wrote to me in an email, that the real question here is, “the extent to which Yale would like to see the study of Antisemitism continue on campus. When Yale has programs that ‘under perform’ they know how, and have the resources to make them viable to the extent they choose to. Yale makes those programs it deems necessary work and overcomes the obstacles.”

Solidifying the case of foul play is the fact that the program was funded by private investors at minimal cost to Yale.

Another individual that was involved with the establishment of the center told me that until the announcement they were under the impression that “the program had done well and was positively received.” He concluded by confirming that it “appears that there are underlying facts that aren’t being disclosed here.” He promised that the decision would not go unchallenged.

In terms of what they are up against, it is clear that the primary consideration of the decision makers is financial, and they have determined that there is more to gain in the closure of the center than in keeping it open. Sources tell me that they are now working diligently to placate any YIISA donors and encourage them to redirect their funds by introducing them to other Jewish related academic activities on campus.

However, Arab donors are tougher customers, and more substantial donors, who wield significant and growing influence in American institutions of higher learning, through consistently being forthright and uncompromising in their expectations.

It is a lesson that Jewish donors must learn to implement when considering where to make their philanthropic investments. If there is a battle for the minds of America’s youth that is being fought out on campuses across the country, the Jewish position can be no less entrenched and the message must be clear, not another Jewish dime goes to Yale until the future of YIISA is secured.

As Rabbi Hecht concluded, “there was a time, not too long ago, that Yale had a Jewish quota, did not accept women and had almost no blacks enrolled. It was only through the courageous efforts of a minority of Yale’s faculty, that these biases were eliminated. The battle against Antisemitism is one that Yale should be at the forefront of.” Jewish donors must demand nothing less.

David Efune is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF.


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