Yale University's Pro-Israeli, Anti-Islamic Conference - by Stephen Lendman
On August 25, Yale University ended a three day global anti-Semitism "crisis" conference promoting the notion that Israeli criticism is "anti-Semitic," no matter how justified.
Boola boola, for shame, mighty Yale displaying the same type anti-Islamic hatred virulent throughout America, raging daily in headlines over the proposed New York City Islamic cultural center, falsely called a mosque, but does it matter?
What matters is racism, hate-mongering, and persecuting Muslims for political advantage - on display at Yale for a three day propaganda hate fest. Imagine what's taught in its classrooms.
The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA)
Calling itself "dedicated to the scholarly research of the origins and manifestations associated with antisemitism globally, as well as other forms of prejudice, including racisms, as it relates to policy," YIISA presented its "Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity conference, at a time the supposed "crisis" is more rhetoric than reality.
Yet its mission statement states:
"Anti-Judaism (or) Antisemitism is one of the most complex and, at times, perplexing forms of hatred, (emerging) in numerous ideological(ly) based narratives and the constructed identities of belonging and otherness such as race and ethnicity, nationalisms, and anti-nationalisms." In modern globalized times, "it appears that Antisemitism has taken on new complex and changing forms that need to be decoded, mapped and critiqued."
What's needed is debunking the relationship between legitimate Israeli criticism and anti-Semitism and notion of a serious anti-Jewish crisis when none, in fact, exists.
Last October 29, Reuters reported that:
"Anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States are at a historic low, with 12 percent of Americans prejudiced toward Jews, an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey found," based on September 26 - October 4 polling with a plus or minus 2.8% margin of error.
ADL said its level matched 1998's as the lowest in the poll's 45-year history. Yet in his 2003 book, "Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism," national director, Abraham Foxman, said he's:
"convinced we currently face as great a threat to the safety of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s - if not a greater one," contradicted by Cato Institute research fellow Leon Hadar (in the January 2004 Chronicles), saying that public opinion polls "indicate (racial and religious forms of) anti-Semitism (have) been in steep decline in most of Western Europe." The same holds for America, putting a lie to Yale's "crisis" and need for a conference to hawk it.
Badly needed are efforts to expose and denounce anti-Islamic rhetoric, actions and persecutions of people for their religion and/or ethnicity, but don't expect Yale to hold it or discuss it in classrooms.
YIISA stacked its conference with pro-Israeli zealots, omitting voices for sanity and the right of Palestinians to live free of occupation in their own land or in one state affording everyone equal rights, an apparent blasphemous notion at Yale and many other US and Canadian campuses, firing even distinguished tenured professors for supporting the wrong religion or people too vigorously.
Opening conference remarks were made by YIISA Director, Dr. Charles Small, Yale's Deputy Provost, Frances Rosenbluth, Rabbi James Ponet, director of Yale's Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, and Aviva Raz Schechter, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director for Combatting Antisemitism.
They all, of course, presented one-sided, pro-Israeli views, underscoring the notion that Israeli criticism is anti-Semetic, when, in fact, it's principled, honest and more needed now than ever to expose and halt an Israeli/Washington partnership to conquer, divide and control the Middle East by force, stealth, deceit, intimidation, occupation, and political chicanery, common tools used by rogues and imperial marauders.
Hebrew University Professor Menahem Milson was the first of several keynote speakers. He's also Chairman of the extremist Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI), whose board and advisors include a rogue's gallery of pro-Israeli right-wing zealots, including:
-- Oliver "Buck" Revell, former FBI Executive Assistant Director in charge of criminal investigative, counterterrorism and counterintelligence;
-- Elliot Abrams, former Reagan and Bush administration official and convicted Iran-Contra felon, later pardoned by GHW Bush; and
-- Steve Emerson, a notorious anti-Islamic bigot, well-known for using unscrupulous tactics to accuse innocent Muslims of terrorism and instill "Islamofascist" fear over the public airwaves.
Its board of advisors includes:
-- Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister and current Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister;
-- Bernard Lewis, Princeton Professor Emeritus of near eastern studies, known for his anti-Islamic views;
-- James Woolsey, neocon former CIA director;
-- John Bolton, former neocon war hawk Bush administration UN ambassador, recess-appointed because Congress was too embarrassed to do it;
-- Rabid Zionist Elie Wiesel, a man Professor Norman Finkelstein calls "vain, arrogant, gullible, naive about international affairs, (and defender of) the worst excesses of previous Israeli governments;"
-- John Ashcroft, former Bush administration Attorney General, the man who indicted Lynne Stewart, famed human rights lawyer now imprisoned on bogus charges for doing her job honorably, what Ashcroft never did;
-- Michael Mukasey, another Bush administration Attorney General, as bad as Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales; and
-- many other disreputable members, known for their pro-Israeli bias, including Richard Holbrooke, a proponent of imperial wars, who stepped down temporarily to become Obama administration Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Other YIISA presenters included (among others):
-- Itamar Marcus, a West Bank settler movement leader, connected to the New York-based Central Fund of Israel, raising money for it in America out of a Sixth Avenue/36th Street fabric store near Times Square;
-- Canadian politician Irwin Cotler, who attacked the Goldstone Commission report viciously and unfairly;
-- Harvard Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Rush Wisse, a pro-Israeli zealot this writer once had the displeasure of debating briefly by email;
-- Barak Seener, Greater Middle East Section Director for the UK-based Henry Jackson Society, who believes Israeli Arabs are a fifth column threat to the state;
-- Anne Bayesfsky, right-wing pro-Israeli supporter, senior fellow at the neocon Hudson Institute, associated with UN Watch devoted to attacking anti-Israeli criticism, and member of the Israel-based Ariel Center for Policy Research, a Likud Party-affiliated group supporting hardline writers in the Middle East, North America and Europe;
-- Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose leaders and advisors include Newt Gingrich, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, James Woolsey, the senator from AIPAC, Joe Lieberman, neocon writer Charles Krauthammer, former Reagan assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan's UN ambassador, among others;
-- Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor's legal advisor, a notorious pro-Israeli group; and
-- Samuel Edelman, board of director member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, another Israeli advocacy organization.
Noticeably absent were notable figures from the Palestinian community as well as US truth and justice scholars and analysts who base their views on facts YIISA wants suppressed. There was no James Petras, Ilan Pappe, Jeff Halper, Joel Kovel, Norman Finkelstein, Rashid Khalidi, Phyllis Bennis, Uri Avnery, Neve Gordon, Nurit Peled-Elhannan, Ramzy Baroud, or any of the thousands of equal justice advocates listed on a so-called "Shit List," including this writer given three unsympathetic paragraphs.
Instead, numerous speakers discussed provocative topics, including:
-- Radical Islam and Genocidal anti-Semitism;
-- Christianity and anti-Semitism;
-- The Islamization of Anti-Semitism;
-- The Internet and the Proliferation of Anti-Semitism;
-- Law, Modernity, and Anti-Semitism;
-- the Central Role of Palestinian Anti-Semitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity;
-- Islamism and the Construction of Jewish Identity;
-- Global Anti-Semitism and the Crisis of Modernity;
--Genocidal Anti-Semitism: Ahmadinejad's Regime as a Case Study;
-- Contemporary Anti-Semitism and the Delegitimization of Israel;
-- Discourse of Contemporary Anti-Semitism;
-- Confronting and Combating Contemporary Anti-Semitism in the Academy;
-- Anti-Semitism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust;
-- Lawfare, Human Rights Organizations and the Demonization of Israel;
-- The Islamist Islamization of Anti-Semitism;
-- the Iranian Threat;
-- Social Theory and Contemporary Anti-Semitism
-- Discourses of Anti-Semitism in Relation to the Middle East;
-- the Media and the Dissemination of Hatred;
-- Global Anti-Semitism;
-- An Uncertain Sisterhood: Women and Anti-Semitism;
-- Hannah Arendt and Anti-Semitism: A Critical Appraisal;
-- Approaches to Anti-Semitism;
-- Models for Combating Anti-Semitism: The Case of the United Kingdom;
-- Understanding the Impact of German Anti-Semitism and Nazism;
-- 400 Years of Anti-Semitism: From the Holy Office to the Nuremberg Laws;
-- Embracing the Nation: Anti-Semitism and Modernity
-- Anti-Semitism and the United States;
-- Variations of European Anti-Semitism;
-- Anti-Semitic Propaganda in Europe;
-- Self-Hatred and Contemporary Anti-Semitism;
-- Discussions in the Study of Anti-Semitism; and
-- YIISA Director Small's concluding remarks.
On August 25, Mondoweiss co-founder Philip Weiss discussed the conference, quoting Charlotte Kates (writer, organizer, and National Lawyers Guild Middle East Subcommittee Co-Chair) saying:
the people invited "who attack Palestinian scholars' academic freedom find conferences such as this to be perfectly acceptable and legitimate."
Weiss added that it's not "possible to understand this conference without understanding the prominence of Zionist donors in prestige institutional life." He also quoted journalist/author Ben White, specializing in Israeli/Palestine issues, saying:
"What is the role of Yale/academia in this kind of exercise?" It's particularly galling and hypocritical that "fighting anti-Semitism - an anti-racist struggle - is being openly appropriated by far-right Zionist groupings, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lobbyists like the NGO Monitor, and Orientalist 'Arab/anti-terror experts."
It's especially disturbing that Yale lent its name to a three day hate fest, supporting:
-- wrong over right;
-- state terrorism over human rights and equal justice;
-- colonizers over the colonized;
-- what Edward Said called "the familiar (America, the West, us over) the strange (the Orient, East, them);" and
-- Jewish "exceptionalism" over a "lesser malevolent" Islam.
Shamefully, presentations excluded discussions about:
Islam's common roots with Judaism and Christianity, its tenets based on:
-- love, not hate;
-- peace, not violence;
-- good over evil;
-- charity, not exploitation; and
-- a just and fair society for people of all faiths.
Also not addressed was the right of Palestinians to live freely like Jews. Yale apparently disagrees, why students against hate and bigotry should enroll elsewhere to be taught truths excluded from Yale's curriculum.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.