Yale University’s decision this week to found a new academic program that studies anti-Semitism — after it ended its support this month for a five-year-old project under intense criticism from the Jewish community and campus circles — has received tentative approval.
Following the closing of Yale’s Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, the school announced a new Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism, sponsored by Yale’s Whitney Humanities Center. The program “will encourage serious scholarly discourse and collaborative research,” said Provost Peter Salovey.
The program will be headed by French and French-Jewish scholar Maurice Samuels, but details of the program’s operations were not announce.
“I welcome the fact that Yale acknowledges that anti-Semitism warrants high-level scholarly research,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, which had criticized the university’s earlier decision to end the Initiative. “Clearly Yale faced a furor” of criticism, he said.
Harris said the “litmus test” of the new program’s value will be its willingness to study “current” anti-Semitism – i.e., with roots in the Muslim world – instead of focusing on historical, mostly Christian anti-Semitism.