The Forward, June 15, 2011
When the news of Yale University’s decision to close its Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) was first made public in early June, the sector of the blogosphere that addresses Jewish issues began to buzz.
Discussion, charges and accusations flew. Yale’s critics praised YIISA as a beacon of academic scholarship that had made a significant contribution to this field of study. They charged Yale with caving in to pressure from Arabs and Muslims, both on and off campus, who could not abide the way in which YIISA boldly shone a spotlight on Muslim anti-Semitism. To these people, it appeared as if anti-Semitism itself had brought down an educational institution devoted to the study of this terrible malaise. I registered my initial response on Twitter, describing the shutting down of YIISA as a strange, if not weird, decision and wondering what had happened.
Yale’s response to the wave of criticism constituted a classic reminder that even a place populated by exceptionally smart people can shoot itself in the foot with deadly accuracy. The university defended itself against charges of having succumbed to Muslim pressure by listing the Jewish studies courses taught at the school and stressing its extensive library holdings in the field. (Yale, admittedly, does have an excellent Jewish studies program, and its libraries have one of the best collections in Jewish studies worldwide.) Yale’s clumsy response constituted, as one blogger put it, the academic equivalent of, “Some of our best friends are Jews.”
There is, however, another side to this story. Apparently, there were people on the Yale campus who were associated with YIISA and who were eager to have it succeed. These friends of YIISA counseled the institute’s leadership that some of its efforts had migrated to the world of advocacy from that of scholarship. They warned YIISA that it was providing fodder to the critics’ claim that it was not a truly academic endeavor.
I have twice participated in YIISA’s activities. I gave a paper at one of its weekly seminar sessions on Holocaust denial and attended its conference last August. While serious scholars who work in this field gave the vast majority of the papers — and not dilettantes who dabble in it — there were a few presentations that gave me pause. They were passionate and well argued. But they were not scholarly in nature.
According to sources at Yale, the university’s leadership unsuccessfully worked with YIISA in an attempt to rectify some of these issues. Part of Yale’s discomfort might have come from the fact that a Yale-based scholarly entity was administered by an individual who, while a successful institution builder, was not a Yale faculty member and who had no official position at the university. Yale has indicated that it is intent on axing YIISA and replacing it with an initiative that will address both anti-Semitism and its scholarly concerns. It is crucial that it do so particularly at a time when anti-Semitism worldwide is experiencing a growth spurt.
Two lessons can be drawn from this imbroglio. First, there is a real need for serious academic institutions to facilitate and encourage the highest-level research on anti-Semitism. (Currently, the only one that exists is at Indiana University, under the leadership of Alvin Rosenfeld.) These institutions could explore why hatred persists even after the Holocaust starkly demonstrated what it could “accomplish.” What about anti-Semitism makes it so malleable that it is able to re-create itself in such a wide array of settings, cultures and ages? They might also ask why the world’s oldest hatred has recently been so little studied and analyzed. Exploring that conundrum is something a first-rate academic institution is uniquely qualified to do. Moreover, this research must focus not just on Christian anti-Semitism, but on Muslim anti-Semitism, as well. Today there are few universities where a young scholar who worked in this field would be granted a position or tenure irrespective of how bright and talented she is. This, too, is something well worth exploring.
After cutting-edge academics have shed light on this issue, communal organizations, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee among them, that are so adept at creating strategies to address the problem will have the diagnosis they need in order to help them move ahead with their work.
Second, this struggle also demonstrates the necessity of differentiating between those who do advocacy and those who do scholarship. Both are critical — but entirely different — endeavors. Let us not forget how rightfully disturbed the Jewish community has been in recent years about the way in which advocacy and polemics have permeated so many university courses on the Middle East. Too many students who take these classes find that they have entered a zone in which advocacy masquerades as scholarship. This is unacceptable, irrespective of the source from which it emanates.
Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, is a member of CISA's Academic Council.
Dr. Chatterley Interviews Gloria Greenfield, Director of UNMASKED: Judeophobia and the Threat to Civilization
CISA will premiere UNMASKED in Winnipeg at the Berney Theatre on Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 7:30pm. Ms. Greenfield will be our guest.
Dr. Chatterley: Why have you used the term “Judeophobia” instead of the more common “Antisemitism”? In your understanding, what is the difference?
Ms. Greenfield: Wilhelm Marr, a German who Bernard Lewis describes as “a minor Jew-baiting journalist with no other claim to memory,” brought the term “anti-Semitism” to public prominence in 1879. Today, this term is no longer adequate as it is based upon a racialist distinction between “Semitic” and “Aryan/Indo-European.”
Furthermore, the term “anti-Semitism” implies a distinction against all “Semites.” So we face the absurd situation where Jew-haters like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan claim the identity of “Semite” in order to make the case that they themselves are victims of “anti-Semitism” as a means of deflecting the fact of their being anti-Jewish racists themselves.
While there is a growing movement in the academy to utilize “Antisemitism” as a replacement for the problematic “anti-Semitism,” “Judeophobia” is a more suitable term to convey the intellectualized and ideological hatred of Jews that is encompassed in the anti-Jewish phenomenon flourishing in many parts of the world today.
Dr. Chatterley: What kind of reactions to the film have you received thus far? Have you received any serious criticisms or stirred any controversy?
Remembering Paula Hyman: Pioneering Historian and Feminist
By Deborah Dash Moore
The Forward, December 15, 2011
Paula Hyman, a pioneering historian of modern Jews, published “My Life as a Radical Jewish Woman” in 2001. Without its subtitle, “Memoirs of a Zionist Feminist in Poland,” it could stand as an apt characterization of Paula herself.
The Yale University historian chose to edit the English translation of Puah Rakovsky’s Yiddish memoir because she sensed a kindred spirit whose feminism and dedication to Jewish education, Zionism, family and community paralleled her own commitments. And in doing so, Paula, who died of cancer December 15 at age 65, found a way to marry her two passions: Jewish history and feminism.
Paula wanted to reclaim Jewish women activists of yore for contemporary Jews as part of her lifelong mission to challenge received ideas about leadership, values and ways of doing things in the United States and Israel. Her work ultimately brought gender analysis into the mainstream of Jewish historical scholarship. For example, Paula invited serious consideration of Jewish women’s organizations such as Hadassah, long scorned by male historians and skewered by comedians.
The Hebrew translation of Paula’s 1995 book, “Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History: The Roles and Representation of Women,” helped coin a new Hebrew word for “gender”: migdar. In 1997, Paula and I co-edited the two-volume “Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia,” which inspired plentiful scholarship on hundreds of American Jewish women in arts, politics, society and religion.
Born in Boston on September 30, 1946, the eldest of Sydney and Ida Tatelman Hyman’s three daughters, Paula went to public schools and supplementary Hebrew schools. She earned undergraduate degrees at Radcliffe College and Boston’s Hebrew Teachers College. She went on to Columbia University, where she studied under such scholars as Gerson Cohen and Ismar Schorsch, and where she received her master’s degree and doctorate in Jewish history.
Her years in New York, during the 1970s and ’80s, proved formative. She joined the New York Havurah, an experimental Jewish religious community, and she helped found Ezrat Nashim, a Jewish women’s consciousness-raising group that advocated for women’s equality in American Jewish life. Paula also pressed the Conservative movement to count women in a minyan and ordain women as rabbis.
Her activism did not derail her pursuits of a sustained scholarly career and a rich family life. In 1969 she married Stanley H. Rosenbaum, then a medical student, and the couple had two daughters, Judith and Adina.
In 1974, Paula accepted a position on the history faculty at Columbia University. She went on to adapt her doctoral dissertation into the 1979 book “From Dreyfus to Vichy: The Remaking of French Jewry, 1906–1939,” which established her as a rising star in Jewish history. She then embarked on a micro-history of small Jewish communities in Alsace, France, publishing in 1991 “The Emancipation of the Jews of Alsace: Acculturation and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century.”
She also deployed her historical acumen to bring immigrant Jewish women’s history into the consciousness of American Jews. A 1982 article on the 1902 New York kosher meat boycott led by immigrant Jewish housewives became her most anthologized work.
Paula pursued such path-breaking activities even as she faced multiple bouts of cancer, over the course of more than 30 years. She battled illness courageously, refusing to slacken her pace. When her daughter Judith became a bat mitzvah, Paula read Torah despite having undergone an operation to remove a brain tumor six days earlier. But living with an acute consciousness of her mortality toughened her, making her impatient with tokenism involving women.
Paula nourished several generations of students at Columbia, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Yale University. In 1981 she became first woman to serve as dean of the seminary’s Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies, and in 1986 she joined the faculty of Yale, becoming Lucy Moses Professor of Modern Jewish History. Three years after coming to Yale, she was appointed director of the Jewish studies department, becoming the first woman to lead a major university’s Jewish studies program; she held that position for more than a decade.
Selected as a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research in 1995, she became the society’s first female president in 2004.
Paula and I co-edited the Modern Jewish Experience series at Indiana University Press for almost 30 years, publishing a steady stream of books that helped to launch aspiring Jewish historians. Until October, she was a member of the Forward Association’s board of directors and chair of the association’s publications committee.
Paula Hyman leaves behind an extraordinary legacy — a body of scholarship that radically altered modern Jewish studies, a large cohort of students and colleagues profoundly influenced by her insights, and a transformed American Jewish community that recognizes the principle and even necessity of women’s equality — as well as deep friendships, a loving husband and two accomplished daughters.
Deborah Dash Moore is the Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History and director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.
Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe
Salmagundi, By Martin Jay
On August 18, 2010, Fidel Castro contributed an article to the Cuban Communist Party paper Granma in which he endorsed the bizarre allegations of an obscure Lithuanian-born conspiracy theorist named Daniel Estulin in a 2005 book entitled The Secrets of the Bilderberg Club. In an Associated Press wire story written by Will Weissert, which was quickly picked up by scores of sites on line, Castro's infatuation went viral, and suddenly Estulin was unknown no more. Soon after, he was invited to Havana for a meeting with his new admirer, who was untroubled by Estulin's ambiguous political affiliations, and before the day was out, the aging Cuban leader and his unexpected friend had declared that Osama Bin Laden was really a secret CIA agent and the United States was planning to destroy Russia's still potent military forces, if necessary by nuclear means. 
Estulin's claim in the book that captivated Castro goes something like this: beginning with a meeting in 1954 in the Bilderberg Hotel in a Dutch town, a group of powerful men—heads of state, economic tycoons, even the occasional monarch—have gathered annually in order to decide the fate of the world. Among the usual suspects, the Rockefeller family, the Rothschilds, Prince Bernhard and Henry Kissinger are prominent eminences grises. With the ultimate goal of installing a world government—or more precisely, a "one-world corporation"—under their control, they pull the strings of the economy, aiming to create chaos, and plot to narcotize the population by any means possible. Perhaps their most effective gambit has been the concoction and dissemination of mass culture, in particular the rock and roll that turned potential social revolutionaries into countercultural stoners.
By Jerry Gordon, April 2011
Gordon: Professor Wistrich thank you for consenting to this timely interview.
Wistrich: Thank you for inviting me.
Gordon: Professor Wistrich, could you tell us about your family background and escape to the West from Soviet Russia following WWII.
Wistrich: My parents were born just before World War I in the Galician province of Austria-Hungary. They lived in Cracow until 1939. On the first day of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, they moved east and for the next 7 years they lived in the U.S.S.R. In 1946 they returned to Cracow as part of the Soviet-Polish repatriation agreement.
Gordon: What do you consider as the significant benchmarks in your distinguished academic and professional career – a career that culminated in your Neuberger Professorship of European and Jewish history and your assumption of the directorship in 2002 of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at Hebrew University?
Wistrich: There were several major landmarks. In 1980, I was invited to be a scholar-in-residence at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Advanced Studies and a year later I already had tenure; receiving the Austrian State Prize for History in 1991; writing the script and editing the three hour film The Longest Hatred on antisemitism for Thames Television; and, being given a lifetime achievement award in 2010 for my research on antisemitism.
Gordon: What prompted your interest in the study of antisemitism?
Wistrich: I think that from an early age I was aware of the seemingly ineradicable nature of antisemitism. Even in its relatively milder British variety it was always present –at school, university, in social life. As a student of history at Cambridge, I became more aware of its longevity and enigmatic character.
Talking with Haaretz, prominent scholar discusses effect of Eichmann Trial on perceptions of the Holocaust, as well as recent comments by U.S. envoy to Belgium Howard Gutman.
The Eichmann trial and Hannah Arendt
Q. 50 years later, what was the significance of the Eichmann trial, in your eyes?
Lipstadt: The Eichmann trial was a pivotal moment in the history of Israel, in the history of Zionism. One of the most striking things about it, for an Israeli audience - over and above his capture and over and above the trial itself - is the beginning of a change in the Israelis’ attitude towards Shoah survivors. I remember when I came to Israel in 1966 I still heard the word “sabonim” (soap) for survivors – today that’s inconceivable.
If you go online and you look at the tapes of the trial, you see young men and women who stood there and gave testimony bekavod (with honor). And it was clear that these were not “ghetto Jews”, they were not failures or somehow fatally flawed; these were people who were chronologically and geographically challenged – they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. And the irony of course is that in those years, Israelis forgot that these same people who were denigrated and called sabonim, when they got off the boats – they were told “Hello, now you’re an Israeli, here’s a rifle, go and fight in Latroun.”
The Mufti of Jerusalem and the Nazis:
The Berlin Years, 1941-1945.
By Klaus Gensicke
Reviewed by Norman Goda
University of Florida
Published on H-Judaic, December 2011
The Riddle of the Mufti
The enduring nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the attacks of September 11, and the antisemitic rhetoric of Mahmud Ahmadinejad and other extreme Islamists has produced contemporary interest in the history of antisemitism in the Arab/Muslim world. Specifically, scholars and journalists have asked whether there exists a link between Nazi thinking on the Jewish question and current discourse in the Arab/Muslim world on Jews and on Western modernity.
These questions are of great importance. Current "anti-Zionist" rhetoric is said to center on anticolonial narratives, which carry moral authority with many on the political left in Europe and in formerly colonized regions. But this moral authority would vanish should the roots of anti-Israel thinking be shown to have its roots in Nazism.
Scholars have tackled the problem from many angles. But a key piece to the puzzle is Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1921 to 1948. In 1941 the mufti, having triggered failed revolts against the British in both Palestine and Iraq, gravitated to Berlin, where for four years he tried to tighten bonds between Nazi Germany and the Arabs and Muslims of the Middle East.
By Robert Zaretsky
Tablet, December 12, 2011
France’s far-right Front National party, under leader Marine Le Pen, is shedding its history of antisemitism and becoming popular with Jewish voters.
As the euro crisis deepens, French politics increasingly resembles, well, French politics. Rhetorical excess is the rule. The left denounces President Nicolas Sarkozy for “appeasing” Germany’s fiscal demands and suggests that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is channeling Otto von Bismarck in her policies toward France. The right is busy lambasting the Socialists for reviving the demons of nationalism while throwing the borders open to the hordes of Arab Muslims waiting to swamp the nation.
It is hard to imagine a scenario that better serves the ambitions of Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National party. While the Socialists and the Gaullists throttle one another over the economy and immigration, Le Pen has mostly watched with a smile from the sidelines. She has good reason to grin: French opinion polls now show her in third place for next year’s presidential election. At roughly 20 percent, Le Pen trails Sarkozy by 6 percentage points and François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, by 10 points. (Squabbling over the crumbs is the rest of the packed field of candidates.) Le Pen’s prospects are even more promising because Sarkozy’s future is yoked to Merkel’s—critics now refer to the twosome as Merkozy—and Hollande’s greatest electoral advantage is that he is not Dominique Strauss-Kahn. To the extreme consternation of the left and right, nearly one in three French voters now has a positive opinion of Le Pen, according to the Ipsos/Le Point poll from mid-November.
Does this sea change in public opinion include the French Jewish community? The answer, unthinkable even a year ago, is yes, for reasons both practical and historical. French Jews and a political movement once steeped in anti-Semitism now seem destined to join forces.
By Ruth R. Wisse
The Weekly Standard, November 21, 2011
Who is damaged more by antisemitism — Jews, or those who organize politics against them?
It now seems that one Jew is worth more than 1,000 Arabs—the rate of exchange established not by Israel, but by Hamas, and celebrated on the Arab street. The “prisoner swap” of more than a thousand Arab prisoners for the single Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped five years ago and held in captivity for just this purpose, represents a gap between two civilizations that has been widening for over six decades with no signs of contraction in sight.
Arab leaders do not yet acknowledge that they sealed the doom of their societies in 1948 when they organized their politics against the Jewish state rather than toward the improvement of their countries. Like a great many autocrats, dictators, tyrants, and antiliberal rulers before them, the founders of the Arab League in 1945 found it convenient to mobilize against the Jews and against the competitive way of life they represent. Whereas Europeans were jolted by revelations of what came to be known as the Holocaust into awareness of the ruin anti-Semitism had wrought, Arab leaders saw in the Jews the same political opportunities that had enticed Germany. Anti-Semitism was the European ideology most eagerly imported and adapted to the Middle East.
Victims of this process have been slow to realize its debilitating effects. “What if Arabs had recognized the State of Israel in 1948?” asks Abdulateef Al-Mulhim in a recent column in Arab News: “Would the Arab world have been more stable, more democratic, and more advanced?” His affirmative answer emphasizes how much better off the Palestinians and their fellow Arabs, as well as non-Arab Muslims, would have been had some Arab leaders not used the Palestinians “for their own agenda to suppress their own people and to stay in power.” The Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh censures Fatah and Hamas for depriving thousands of Palestinians “in the two Palestinian states in the West Bank and Gaza Strip” of the individual liberties that flourish across the border in Israel. The Israel News channel YNet quotes a Syrian publicist as saying, “Our government shoots at us; Israel works to return even rotted bones. Maybe the problem is with us.” (He is referring to earlier prisoner exchanges where hundreds of Arab prisoners were traded for the corpses of Israeli soldiers.) Not until these sentiments prevail will Arab citizens begin to enjoy the opportunities Israelis take for granted.
By Lionel Steiman
OUTLOOK Magazine Brunch, Fort Garry Hotel
Lloyd Axworthy once said that the most important thing Izzy Asper did for Winnipeg was to stay here. Asper’s most important legacy will undoubtedly be the Canadian Museum for Human Rights He wanted to put Winnipeg on the world’s map, and give it an architectural icon like the Eiffel Tower. Asper had introduced a Bill of Rights in the Manitoba legislature in 1971, and ten years later promoted Trudeau’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The catalyst that made him champion human rights was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which opened in 1993. Four years later, the Asper Foundation began its Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program, combining lectures at home with a tour of the Holocaust museum in Washington. The program proved transformative for students and teachers alike, and this gave Asper the idea of providing a similar experience in Canada so students wouldn’t have to go to Washington. Thus he conceived a centre with a human rights focus, and a travel program that would bring students from around the world to Winnipeg. In July, 2000 he discussed the idea with the Executive Director of the Asper Foundation; three years later, in April 2003, plans for a national human rights museum in Winnipeg were unveiled at the Forks. Six months later, Izzy Asper died. Two weeks after his funeral, the architectural design competition for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was launched, marked by a ceremonial sod turning at the Forks. Fundraising resumed under the energetic leadership of his daughter.