God and damage control at Yale

Having just killed its interdisciplinary program for the study of anti-Semitism, Yale University announced on Monday that it is launching a new program for the study of anti-Semitism. JTA reports that Monday’s announcement of the creation of the Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism comes less than three weeks after the university said the Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of Anti-Semitism would be disbanded at the end of the summer for failing to promote sufficient research. The New York Post’s Abby Wisse Schachter picked up on Yale’s announcement.
I turned to my knowledgeable source for comment. He responded:

The obvious question is who are the faculty who came forward? Most faculty at Yale would probably agree with Professor Alexander’s quote in this very thoughtful article. The implication is that the study of anti-Semitism at Yale will henceforth be “unbiased.” But what if anti-Semitism in the world is in fact biased — i.e., it occurs in some populations and regions more than others? What you are likely to get is a program that follows along with so much post 9/11 analysis and poses that tedious question why do they hate us?” The answer is usually because we had it coming in some way.
So my prediction is that this program is likely — if it does anything — to emphasize the responsibility of Israeli and American policy for the prevalence of anti-Semitism. And in reality, since most “programs” at Yale do relatively little (the place is really driven by departments, who are the ones who grant tenure — many centers and programs are really just umbrellas that gather under them stuff that was going on anyway), it’s likely that this program is nothing much more than a smokescreen to allow Yale to excuse its elimination of YIISA by referring to its continued dedication to the subject.

Yale, in other words, is doing a little public relations damage control. K.C. Smith has more here.


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