In early June, Yale University pulled the plug on the first U.S.-based academic center devoted to the study of modern anti-Semitism, including the growing phenomenon of Islamic animated hatred of Jews, Israel, and the West. The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) was established in 2006, as the brainchild of Dr. Charles Small, an expert on new expressions of Judeophobia. Yale’s recent reversal is part of its ongoing capitulation to political correctness, and its attendant refusal to criticize fundamentalist Islamism. Take the example of Yale University Press and the University’s president, Richard Levin, who censored the publication of twelve Danish cartoons lampooning radical Islam and Mohammed. In October 2009, Yale refused to publish the cartoons in Brandeis University professor Jytte Klausen’s book The Cartoons that Shook the World.
In its desire to give no offense, Yale preemptively surrendered its intellectual honesty. Roughly a year later, Yale lecturer Hillary Mann Leverett, a former National Security Council official and frequent apologist for Iran’s regime, took students from her “U.S.-Iranian Diplomacy” course to meet with Iran’s despotic leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. According to Leverett, the academic chat with Ahmadinejad revealed that “he was probably not the stereotype of a crazy irrational figure. … He has a strategy for Iran.”
As Michael Rubin pointed out, “the Ahmadinejad meeting is not the scandal, although the obsequiousness of it is problematic.”
Yale’s posture toward Iran has been unduly sympathetic toward the regime’s anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and radical Islamic assaults on Western values.
The university charged that YIISA had not acted as “as a valued input to the research and teaching interests of some significant group of Yale faculty” and “no core of faculty research or student interest has developed around the center or has emerged to direct its interests.”
In the Washington Post, Walter Reich debunked the academic chimera Yale invoked for destroying the institute. Yale outlined its reasons for shuttering YIISA in a report which it refuses to release — thus making a mockery of any semblance of academic transparency and fairness.
However, the real reasons for Yale’s growing servility to political correctness most likely lie in YIISA’s admirable August 2010 conference addressing “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity.”
Maen Rashid Areikat¸ the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, promptly wrote a letter to Yale’s president Richard Levin, charging that the YISSA conference was a forum for “anti-Arab extremism and hate mongering.”
YIISA’s important work in exposing Iranian anti-Semitism, and the regime’s longstanding persecution of women and minority groups, appears to have prompted Iran’s rulers to declare Yale University a sanctioned organization on the regime’s list of targeted groups.
All of this helps to explain Yale’s decision to avoid necessary scholarly pursuits and close YIISA, even as the hatred of Jews remains as widespread as ever in the Muslim world.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.