Studying Antisemitism on Campus
by Phyllis Chesler
A very gallant Dr. Charles Asher Small just delivered an important lecture at the 92nd St Y. in New York. Yes, this is the same Dr. Small who, in 2004, founded the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), which he housed at Yale University from 2006-2011—until the Yale Corporation decided that the Center’s work on Islamic Judeophobia and specifically on Iranian genocidal Judeophobia threatened Yale’s “scholarly commitments” in the region.
Who could make this up?
This was the first time that Dr. Small spoke about this publicly.
Dr. Small is Canadian and grew up in Montreal. He speaks in a restrained and reasonable way about outrages and injustices. He is a gentleman and a scholar.
I was privileged to have met him in 2003 and to have worked with him while he was at Yale. I have also written about his work and its tragic demise at Yale.
This time, Dr. Small named names.
But, he first wondered why Israel, which is blamed for every conceivable wrong, is also to blame for whatever problems American Jews are having in terms of communal identity or renewal. He wondered how different American Jews and Jewish leaders are today when compared to the American Jewish leaders in the 1920s and 1930s, as economic problems worsened and a virulent antisemitism arose. “Sound familiar?”, he asked.
Dr. Small noted that antisemitism is different from all the other ‘isms’ such as racism and sexism. “It is inherently genocidal,” he said. It was “genocidal during the religious era when Jews were the wrong religion” and were accused of holding back the Messianic age by both “refusing to convert to Christianity” and for having committed “deicide.” And it is genocidal today. But there is a taboo today at work that impedes any rational search for the truth.
Small went on to say that no one is examining radical Islamic ideology No one is questioning the dominant world view. Instead, everyone is into postmodernism, cultural relativism and politically correct non-judgementalism. He defined anyone who has been formerly colonized as being a victim whose customs and traditions cannot be judged.
Charles and I agree on this new and clever form of racism and paternalism. Universal rights for me and thee – but not for the female victims of honor killing, forced child marriage, female genital mutilation, and forced veiling. Religious rights for Muslims in the West, but the lethal persecution of Christians, Hindus, and Jews in “Muslim lands.”
Meanwhile, Charles’ Institute at Yale was vibrant, dynamic and thriving. About 3 and a half years ago, a philanthropist offered Charles and his Institute five million dollars if Yale would raise 15-20 million dollars. Dr. Small delivered a strategic business plan. The development office said it was “wonderful.”
But the environment changed when the current Iranian regime suddenly listed Yale as an “enemy of the revolution.” Small and his Institute were blamed by some for having gotten Yale in trouble, resulting in Yale’s telling Small to stop dealing with radical Islam, radical Islamic Judeophobia, and Iran. Absent his dealing with those topics, he was told, he could enjoy a long and happy career at Yale.
But Radical Political Islam, not Islam the religion, not the Muslim people, but Radical Political Islam, the genocidal movement, is a key part of the irrational hatred against Jews and Israel in today’s world. When Charles convened in August of 2010, the largest academic world conference on global antisemitism to have ever been held, Radical Political Islam was part of the discussion. It couldn’t be ignored. It was not the focal point of the conference. It wasn’t even mentioned by most of the speakers. But it was included in some presentations by a few of the 107 speakers from 23 countries who made up the program.
What was to come was signalled when the assembled conference attendees were welcomed rather sourly by associate Yale Provost, Frances Rosenbluth. Before a word was spoken or paper presented, she warned that the scholarship to be presented needed be constrained and she pre-emptively labeled outcomes when she said presenters were “not to engage in Islamophobia.”
A young Palestinian actively blogged throughout the conference and in real time characterized speakers as “racists” and “Islamophobes.” Instead of measured analysis, dialogue and prudent deliberation, his name calling reverberated across the internet kicking off a firestorm which resulted, three days later, in the newly appointed PLO “ambassador” in D.C. writing to Yale President Levin charging Yale with “racism.”
Here’s the thing. Tell the truth about Radical Political Islamism and you will be branded a racist. Dare expose the Muslim practice of slavery, imperialism, colonialism, religious intolerance, and gender apartheid and you will find yourself branded a “conservative racist” and therefore demonized.
It happened to me early on, between 2003-2005.
It has happened to every single truth teller ever since, including Dr. Charles Small.
Small and his colleagues were attacked irrationally. National Public Radio chimed in and a Yale Professor accused the Institute of being similar to Black Panthers. The chorus grew and Yale had its excuse to end its relationship with the Institute and Charles Small. In so doing, Yale confiscated the film of the conference, framed a report which it marked ‘confidential’ (something they’d never done before in this kind of circumstance) and didn’t allow Charles Small or any of his colleagues at Yale to see it. These actions could hold the record for abruptness and lack of considered process extended when compared to all other departures. Adding insult to injury, with several week’s notice, Yale asked Charles Small to leave.
But it is now a year later and this quiet talk to a hushed audience at the 92nd St. Y marked the beginning of a new chapter in the struggle to tell the truth and expose the deception that is going on behind the curtain in academia today. The whole episode at Yale was instructive and underlines the urgent need for an independent institution that studies antisemitism in real time, and not merely as an historical artifact and novelty. Antisemtism is as virulent, threatening and genocidal as it has ever been and the need for a Charles Small and an organization like ISGAP, that is not afraid to seek the truth, is more pressing than it has ever been. If not now, when.