Archive for June 29th, 2011

“STUDIES ON ANTI-SEMITISM RE-ESTABLISHED AT YALE” by Fern Sidman

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

In a stunning reversal of a previous decision that sparked polemical debate amongst Jewish leaders and academics, the provost of Yale University has announced the re-establishment of an interdisciplinary program on the study of anti-Semitism. Provost Peter Salovey who is the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology at Yale said in a letter dated June 19th that, “I have been gratified to learn that Professor Maurice Samuels and a group of faculty colleagues have expressed interest in the creation of a new scholarly enterprise, the Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism (YPSA), and that the Whitney Humanities Center has agreed to sponsor it.”

Earlier this month, Yale Professor Donald Green, Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, said that upon a faculty review, the university would be terminating the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA) because the program was allegedly “generating little scholarly work that earned publication in highly regarded journals, and its courses attracted few students.” Citing the Center for the Study of Race, Inequality and Politics as another example of an “underachieving program”. Dr. Green said that “YIISA suffered the same fate because it failed to meet high standards for research and instruction”.

These charges were vigorously disputed by a plethora of academics, Jewish leaders and journalists who ascribed political motivation as the prominent factor in Yale’s decision to shut down the program. Referencing the 2010 YIISA sponsored conference entitled, “Global Anti-Semitism: A Crisis of Modernity” that focused on the virulent nature of Islamic anti-Semitism, considered by experts in the field to be the most pernicious manifestation of modern-day global antipathy, Abby Wisse Schachter said in an op-ed piece that appeared in the New York Post that studying “Christian anti-Semitism is fine; political Jew-hatred, like communist or fascist anti-Semitism, no problem. But get anywhere near Muslim or Middle Eastern anti-Semitism, as presenters at YIISA’s conference did last year, and you’ve crossed the line.”

In January 2010, Iran announced that it was instituting a boycott of 60 institutions and Yale was among them. Although the regime did not explain the reason for the boycott, university officials attributed Tehran’s decision to YIISA’s activities in spotlighting the regime’s role in promoting genocidal anti-Semitism. Due to the boycott, Yale professors involved in research in Iran were forced to end their activities. These professors reportedly blamed YIISA rather than Iran for the cancellation of their research projects

Founded in 2006 by renowned sociologist Charles Small, YIISA was the largest research unit in North America devoted to a nuanced exploration of anti-Semitism in its various incarnations with a focus on its urgent contemporary significance. Its clearly defined stated mission was “to explore this subject matter in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary framework from an array of approaches and perspectives as well as regional contexts.”

Professor Salovey also said in his letter that, “YPSA will encourage serious scholarly discourse and collaborative research focused on anti-Semitism, one of the world’s oldest and most enduring prejudices, in all of its forms” and added that it is his hope that “this program will produce major scholarship on the vitally important subject of anti-Semitism and will be open to the entire Yale community.”

According to Salovey’s letter, Professor Maurice Samuels has written an award winning book on Jewish fiction writers in France and is currently working on a major study of the portrayal of Jews in French literature and culture from the time of the Revolution through the present. Professor Samuels has also taught such undergraduate classes entitled, “Jewish Identity and French Culture” and “Representing the Holocaust”.

The letter also indicated that Professor Samuels and his colleagues will also bring in visiting speakers who have expertise that is relevant to the group’s evolving interests, and will host multidisciplinary research conferences and reading groups.

It is unclear at this juncture if Yale’s decision to re-establish a scholarly program on the study of anti-Semitism was predicated upon the flurry of protests and the growing number of negative op-ed articles written by political commentators, distinguished professors and academics over the closing of YIISA.

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Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.

‘Egyptian Curricula States Jews, Christians are Infidels’

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Egypt’s school curriculum, laden with anti-Semitic and anti-Christian sentiment, must undergo drastic reform to comply with international standards, according to a new report to be presented this week at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“Egypt has to conduct fundamental reforms in its curricula, which present a national identity based solely on the Islamic religion,” said Yohanan Manor, chairman and co-founder of the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE), the Jerusalembased think-tank that compiled the report.

“Egypt’s schools present Islam as the ‘only true faith,’ and believers in other religions – including Coptic Christians – as infidels,” he said.

Manor and his colleagues will present the report at the conference, “School Textbooks in the Greater Middle East: National Identity and Images of Self and Other,” to be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Hebrew University’s Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace.

A year before the ousting of president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s government announced plans for comprehensive reforms to “purge school curricula of erroneous views and material that incites extreme violence.”

The government’s first step was to remove references to “jihad in God’s name.” These changes, the report found, have fallen far short of the comprehensive reform Cairo had pledged.

Anti-Coptic violence in Egypt reached a crescendo over the past six months. A bomb in an Alexandria church on Christmas Day last year killed 21 people, and anti-Christian attacks have grown in scope and frequency since Mubarak’s resignation in February. The new report by IMPACT-SE, formerly the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, found that internecine violence is fueled largely by education.

But contradictory messages also run deeply through Egypt’s education system. In many textbooks Copts are denigrated as infidels, yet in those same works are praised for participating in Egypt’s independence campaigns throughout history. Students are taught that the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament are holy books, but also taught that those same texts were “forgeries” penned by non-Muslims.

“Egyptian textbooks define Christians and Jews as infidels,” Manor said. “A year ago, Egyptian authorities admitted as much in a joint conference by Education Minister Dr. Ahmed Zaki Badreldin and the grand mufti of Egypt, Dr. Ali Gomaa.”

In April of last year, he said, the two officials announced reforms to purge the curricula of Quranic verses “encouraging jihad and the murder of polytheists and infidels.”

The press conference sparked an uproar in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood flatly rejected any talk of education reform, while several news outlets took positions in favor.

The state-owned Al-Ahram daily called for an end to “teaching our children to denigrate the Christian religion and even Judaism…
They must stop describing believers in other religions as infidels, as that is a dangerous designation that effectively grants permission to kill.”

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