Adam Brosky: Yale’s Anti-Semitism Whitewash

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Yale just announced a new program for studying anti-Semitism, just weeks after it shut an earlier version that called attention to manifestations of Muslim Jew-hatred. The program will let Yale claim that it considers the subject important.

Alas, the replacement might only make a bad situation worse. And it won’t be just Jews who pay the price.

Yale’s approach reflects much of America’s: Tread carefully before criticizing Muslims. Alas, that makes an honest study of contemporary Jew-hatred a bit difficult.

“When you talk about the most dangerous and virulent anti-Semitism today, you have to focus primarily on the Muslim world,” says Neil Kressel, a professor tied to the now-shuttered Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism.

Kressel, who’s writing a book on the subject (and who, full disclosure, happens to be my brother-in-law), says many varieties of Jew-hatred exist — but if you’re going to study current anti-Semitism honestly, there’s no way to avoid emphasizing Muslim and Arab strains.

“Hamas’s founding charter is chock-full of classic Jew-hatred. Iran’s Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust-denier. Top government officials in many Muslim-majority countries are full-fledged anti-Semites. Saudi Arabia exports anti-Jewish curricula around the world. Ultra-nationalists and Islamist media in Turkey are obsessed with Jews. Even moderates and liberals in many Muslim-majority countries are not free of Jew-hatred,” he says.

Yet Yale — as The Post’s Abby Wisse Schachter explained when she broke the story last month — shut down YIISA largely because some of its researchers dared call attention to Muslim anti-Semitism. Facing cries of “Islamophobia,” Yale pulled the plug.

Alas, Yale then had a new problem: It was accused of cynically sacrificing honest academic inquiry and bowing to anti-Semitism’s defenders. Just as it may have feared the loss of Arab/Muslim funding in deciding to close YIISA, it may have likewise fretted about a donation drain if it didn’t open a replacement.

Thus was born the new Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism. That may let the school have it both ways.

Its director, Maurice Samuels, insists the program will “examine both contemporary and historical forms of anti-Semitism” and that Yale has placed no restrictions on it. But Samuels comes from Yale’s French department. And he seems to go out of his way to play down Muslim animosity toward Jews.

When I asked him, for instance, if he thought Islamic sources are an important part of contemporary Jew-hatred — as Kressel and experts like Tarek Fatah and Bassam Tibi assert — Samuels said only that “anti-Semitism can be found in many countries and cultures, including some Muslim ones.”

Hopelessly naive? PC? Fearful of heat from anti-Semites?

He decried the “upsurge in violence against Jews around the world.” But asked to describe that violence, he cited attacks “all over the world, from Paris to Buenos Aires,” including the murder of Ilan Halimi in France in 2006.

Hmm. Did he miss the fact that Halimi’s murder was fueled, in part, by Muslim anti-Semitism and that the two most violent attacks against Jews in Buenos Aires, in 1992 and 1994, were the handiwork of the Islamic Republic of Iran?

On the other hand, he did say his own book project “is about the intersection of anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism in France, from the French Revolution to the present.” Great.

No, nothing wrong with that. But if his program pulls punches when it comes to modern-day Muslim hostility toward Jews, it will leave a gaping hole in the world’s understanding — not only of anti-Semitism, but also of Muslims.

Kressel, in his upcoming book, argues that academics have studiously avoided focusing on Islamic Jew-hatred; it’s safer, career-wise, to deal with long-dead anti-Semites and those on academia’s approved-enemies list. YIISA’s closing proves him right; it was, after all, the only such program of its kind in America.

With a neutered program, Yale would be promoting ignorance about a hatred hardly limited to Jews. As most folks know, the world’s greatest terrorist threat today comes from Islamists; Jews may be at the top of their target list, but, as the last decade showed, all nonbelievers are at risk.

Meanwhile, a program at prestigious Yale that soft-pedals all-too-common Muslim hatreds will leave a dangerously wrong impression that all’s well. Far from shedding light on a hugely important problem, a great university will have instead helped shield it from scrutiny.

What a contribution to scholarship.

Adam Brosky: Yale’s Anti-Semitism Whitewash

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