New Studies, Old Hatreds

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Studying anything having to do with Jews is at once conventional and sedate and potentially perilous. In 2010, a project at Yale University gathered experts from a number of different countries and disciplines to examine the peculiarly modern forms taken by the world’s oldest hatred. The resulting conference, titled “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity,” included considerations of anti-Semitism in places as disparate as Francoist Spain, Brazil under the Dutch, post-apartheid South Africa, and contemporary settings too numerous to list.

But what drew widespread media attention to the gathering was the treatment of only a single topic, namely, anti-Semitism in the contemporary Islamic world. In fact, the sessions devoted to this phenomenon set off a firestorm of controversy so fierce as to result in the eventual ouster from Yale of the conference organizer, the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA). Although the university’s official reason for shuttering YIISA was the program’s alleged failure “to meet high standards for research and instruction,” there was not the slightest doubt that the real reason lay in the vociferous charges of “anti-Arab extremism and hate-mongering” lodged against the conveners by Arab and pro-Palestinian groups and their faculty supporters. By 2011, YIISA was no more. Read More

New Studies, Old Hatreds

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AUTHOR

Alex Joffe

Editor SPME / BDS Monitor

Alexander H. Joffe is an archaeologist and historian specializing in the Middle East and contemporary international affairs. He received a B.A. in History from Cornell University in 1981 and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona in 1991. From 1980 to 2003 he participated in and directed archaeological research in Israel, Jordan, Greece and the United States. Joffe taught at the Pennsylvania State University and Purchase College, and has been Director of Research for Global Policy Exchange, Ltd., and The David Project, Center for Jewish Leadership.

Joffe's work is uniquely broad. Since 1991 he has published dozens of studies on the archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and is a leading figure in contentious debates over the relationship between archaeology and politics in the Middle East. He has also authored numerous works on contemporary issues, including Middle Eastern environmental security threats from pollution and weapons of mass destruction. His work on the problem of dismantling intelligence agencies is widely cited by experts and democratic reformers alike.

In the past decade Joffe has written and spoken on topics as varied as the future of American Jews, the Palestinian refugee problem, and nationalism. During that time as well he has been deeply involved with combating the problems of campus antisemitism, the ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions' movement against Israel, and in educating Jews and others about threats to Israel and the West. His current projects include a biography of a British World War II general and several novels. He and his family reside near New York City.


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