Statement from Charles Asher Small Executive Director and Founder of YIISA

“Recently, Yale University officials informed us of their precipitous decision to close YIISA, The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism.

It became evident that YIISA and Yale University have different visions and approaches to the study of antisemitism.  YIISA, like Yale, believes in the necessity to publish in top tier journals.  YIISA scholars, its graduate and post-doctorate research fellows, esteemed senior visiting professors, and scholars associated with YIISA have done so at a high caliber and with success.

YIISA, however, is committed to critical engaged scholarship with a broader approach to the complex, and at times controversial context of contemporary global antisemitism.

It is this mission that my colleagues at YIISA so eloquently and with a sense of integrity engaged.  This was reflected, for example, in the conference, “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity”.  Held in August 2010 it was the largest academic conference on the study of antisemitism ever. This illustrated not only the relevance of YIISA, but the concern, if not alarm, that scholars of antisemitism have for the contemporary global condition.  It also marked the launching of the International Association for the Study of Antisemitism (IASA) a professional association, of which I was elected by peers to be its first President.

We believe that the role of a true scholar and intellectual is to shed light where there is darkness.   It is a responsibility of scholars to understand the implications of antisemitism on society, nationally as well as internationally. YIISA has been successful in this regard since our formation in 2006.  YIISA was the first research center based at a North American University dedicated to the study of antisemitism, and will continue to be a trailblazer in the field.

I wish to express appreciation for the role Yale students and professors played in the development of YIISA.  I am especially grateful for the community of scholars from across the United States and from around the world that contributed to YIISA.  I look forward to continuing to work with these scholars.  I also look forward to work with academics that will be associated with the new Yale Program on Antisemitism, to be constituted, especially with my esteemed colleague Maurie Samuels.   We are all colleagues on a subject matter with profound implications.  I would also like to thank members of the YIISA Board of Trustees for their efforts and for their continued commitment to further our mandate.  I am also grateful for the thousands of people that attend our events and support our work.

We are in conversation with several academic institutions that understand the importance of our mission.  They have expressed interest in YIISA becoming part of their academic community. It is also my hope, given the importance and timeliness of the subject, that several research centers, dedicated to the study of antisemitism, especially the contemporary global context, will open at universities across the United States.”

 Charles Asher Small, D. Phil

Executive Director and Founder

Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism

5 Responses to “Statement from Charles Asher Small Executive Director and Founder of YIISA”

  1. Blacklisted Dictator Says:

    Let’s hope that we have not seen the end of the YIISA project and that it flourishes elsewhere.

    As Charles Small says, YIISA was engaged with the “controversial context of contemporary global antisemitism”, and there can be little doubt that this contributed to YIISA’s downfall. However, it is imperative that other academic institutions do not shy away from such contoversy ; YIISA’s mission must continue to be possible.

    • Bill Says:

      As Charles Small says, YIISA was engaged with the “controversial context of contemporary global antisemitism”, and there can be little doubt that this contributed to YIISA’s downfall. However, it is imperative that other academic institutions do not shy away from such contoversy ; YIISA’s mission must continue to be possible.

      This is common theme in higher ed now. Selected areas of dispute are treated with kid gloves out of fear of offending or just shaking (certain) groups. The correct reply to this? Greg Lukianoff’s line (one of the many flavors of his message): ” being offended is what happens when you have your deepest beliefs challenged, and if you make it through four years of college without having your deepest beliefs challenged, you should ask for your money back.” YIISA seems to have been doing its job. Like BD on the other thread, I fear that research into only certain types of antisemitism will be favored by YPSA. Refund checks may be in order.

  2. Blacklisted Dictator Says:

    Antisemitism often truimphs when freedom of expression is curtailed, so the biggest problem for those who try and confront this racism, is to actually find an envirionment which allows the relevant issues to be discussed and debated.

    Analyzing how freedom of expression is being manipulated and controlled, should be one of the most important subjects for research amongst academics, specialising in antisemitism. Of course, it is an extremely contentious and difficult area; the official reasons for YIISA’s closure are further evidence of this phenomenon and indicative of the intellectual/academic status quo. How we have arrived at this destination is, I would argue, the most important question, not only for those studying modern antisemitism but also for anyone who believes in the tenets of liberal democracy and its concomitant secular freedoms. The issues are complex, but they deserve to be brought to the attention of a wider public before the battle is lost.

  3. Lynne T Says:

    Alan Durshowitz’s op-ed on Yale’s decision to close YIISA here:

    http://www.hudson-ny.org/2200/yale-anti-semitism


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