The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism (YIISA), which has operated since 2006, will not continue next year, Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies Donald Green said in a statement.
The decision to end the program has met criticism from groups across the nation that show support for Jewish people, such as the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League. But Green, a political science professor, said YIISA generated little scholarly work that earned publication in highly regarded journals, and its courses attracted few students.
“YIISA suffered the same fate as other initially promising programs… that were eventually terminated at ISPS because they failed to meet high standards for research and instruction,” Green said, citing the Center for the Study of Race, Inequality and Politics as another example of an underachieving program.
By contrast, he said, other ISPS programs, such as the Ethics, Politics and Economics major and the Interdisciplinary Bioethics Center, draw “hundreds” of students to their classes each year, and programs such as the Field Experiments Initiative has produced “an extraordinary number” of articles in “top-tier academic journals.”
But several leaders of organizations that stand up against anti-Semitism have issued statements condemning Yale’s decision to close the initiative. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that Yale should have addressed the shortcomings of the program instead of ending it.
“If there were problems that the university raised, they needed to be dealt with and resolved,” he said. “The decision to end the Center was a bad one on its own terms, but it is even worse because it leaves the impression that the anti-Jewish forces in the world achieved a significant victory.”
David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, echoed Foxman’s sentiment. He said in a statement that he hopes Yale will reconsider and keep the program.
“We hope Yale will review this unfortunate decision so that YIISA’s critical work can continue,” Harris said. “In our experience working with YIISA, AJC has been impressed by the level of scholarly discourse, the involvement of key faculty, and the initiative’s ability, through conferences and other programs, to bring a wide range of voices to the Yale campus.”
A column published Monday in the New York Post claims that Yale closed the program because YIISA “refused to ignore the most virulent, genocidal and common form of Jew-hatred today: Muslim anti-Semitism.”
But Frances Rosenbluth, deputy provost for social sciences and faculty development, said the committee that reviewed YIISA based its assessment “solely on the issue of faculty leadership and involvement.”
“Yale is strongly committed to freedom of speech, which gives rise to a rich diversity of views on campus,” she said.