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May 1, 2012 8:42 am

Shuttered Yale Center’s Director Studying anti-Semitism in New Ways

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Pictured here speaking at a recent 92nd Street Y event in New York, Dr. Charles Small, former director of the Yale University center on anti-Semitism (closed by the school in 2011), is building a new institute dedicated to the study of contemporary anti-Semitism. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

NEW YORK—Once director of the shuttered Yale Interdisciplinary Initiative for the Study of anti-Semitism (YIISA), Dr. Charles Small hasn’t abandoned his academic mission of exposing the crisis of silence surrounding contemporary Jew-hatred.

During a recent presentation at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Small recounted the measures and methodology used by Yale to eliminate YIISA last year as well as his development of a new academic research program called the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy (ISGAP).

Calling anti-Semitism “a 21st-century relevant issue,” Small said the program Yale substituted for YIISA examines “past, rather than present and future, anti-Semitism”— a tactic that effectively ignores the threat of “contemporary radical Islamist anti-Semitism.” He believes Yale is failing in its responsibilities to study the current threats to Israel and the Jewish people, terming it “an urgent threat, not only to the Jewish people, but to democratic values and principles.”

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While Yale had cited the YIISA’s work as “racist,” Small says the university was—and is—unwilling to “engage in a comprehensive examination of the current crisis facing living Jews,” looking only at history. He says the criticism of YIISA by “post-modernists” significantly influenced Yale’s decision to close the center.

The academic institution Small is building is based in New York City and is dedicated to the study of contemporary anti-Semitism. He says Yale “underestimated the reaction” to the closure of YIISA, which had a faculty of 14 and was actively running academic conferences and studies. The final seminar held at YIISA studied the Muslim Brotherhood, and a Yale investigatory committee confiscated some of YIISA’s materials—including a film from that final seminar. The opportunity for an outside, independent review of YIISA was denied.

“Our ignorance and arrogance is absurd,” warns Small. “If you care about anti-Semitism in the contemporary setting, read about the world view of the Jews and Zionism held by the Muslim Brotherhood.” Small ponders how heavily funders influenced Yale’s actions, asking: “Why is there no center on anti-Semitism at any Ivy League University? Why is there pressure to change history and universalize the Holocaust?” He challenges the “globalization” fostered by neo-liberalism and radical Islam and asks whether the West “is acquiescing for a quick buck.”

Small is concerned about how Jewish youths at universities defend themselves against anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bias and outright anti-Semitism, calling their lack of preparedness “abysmal.”

“Young people are not getting a good Jewish education,” he says, noting that disliking Israel has become “cool.” Youths must know facts such as that the Hamas charter is based on the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

“Where is the human rights movement?” he asks. “Where is the Jewish community, when Iran is calling for the annihilation of six million Jews?”

Small says, “The role of a true scholar and intellectual is to shed light where there is darkness.” At YIISA, he says he had “engaged in scholarship with a broader approach to the complex, and at times controversial context of contemporary global anti-Semitism.”

At ISGAP, Small plans “to do high-caliber research… and have an effect on politics—not as advocates, but as creators of findings and information.”

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