Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism — two sides of the same coin — are raging anew. They are brutally alive in the Middle East, Europe and even here in America.
Yet now, at long last, there is some pushback, at least on the “battlefield of ideas.” It comes in the form of a new academic institute championed by a hardened veteran of this war, and its presence at universities throughout the world is blossoming.
In this country, we hear shouts of Jew-hatred at every pro-Palestinian demonstration. We read all about it in the biased left-liberal, anti-Israel media and see it in President Obama’s overt hostility to Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Perhaps most troubling, though, is its presence on the American campus, where it simmers at full boil. There, Israel-bashing is embraced as an expression of politically correct, divine truth — rather than called out for what it often really is: unadulterated racism. Professors disguise their hatred of Jews by presenting it as a “politically righteous” stand against Israel, since the Jewish state is, in their portrayal, a colonialist, apartheid nation. A 2015 report by the National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students found 54 percent of 1,157 college students polled at 55 American campuses have experienced and/or witnessed anti-Semitic incidents.
Enter Prof. Charles Small — to the rescue. Small founded the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy after running a successful similar program at Yale from 2005 to 2011. The Yale program was superb; experts there examined contemporary Islamic Jew- and infidel-hatred and terrorism in new academic ways — that is, openly and honestly.
That doomed it. The program was squashed and he was forced out due leftist pressure and a campaign by Arab and pro-Palestinian students, faculty and advocates.
Now, he’s back, and his new effort is also seeing success. The institute is proving a powerful force, one the Western academic world (not surprisingly) abhors. He’s offering a rigorous scholarly program dedicated to the study of contemporary global anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism may be the “oldest hatred,” but no such program focusing on its current-day manifestation has ever before existed. Instead, America today is awash with well-funded anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Western Middle Eastern studies departments. Small says he is “fighting anti-Semitism on the battlefield of ideas, not in university corridors, not at campus demonstrations.”
By 2012, ISGAP had a foothold at Fordham and Harvard law schools, Stanford and McGill. It’s now at Columbia Law, Sapienza University in Rome and the University of Paris-Sorbonne. In two weeks, it will debut at the University of Chile.
In the 2014-2015 academic year, ISGAP presented more than 100 seminars in English, French and Italian. Through the guidance of executive-committee chairman Lawrence Benenson, funding is diverse, coming from “both right of center and left of center.”
The effort has not always been easy. The powers that be at the Sorbonne said “anti-Semitism is not important, not relevant” — their exact words. Grudgingly, they let Small stage an event “just once,” thinking nothing would come of it; instead, 80 people showed up. At another seminar after the Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket attacks, 150 people turned out. ISGAP was later given military protection and invited to formally join the Sorbonne as a “recognized research center.”
This is an extraordinary victory. “The French now understand that those who are profoundly anti-Semitic are threatening the foundations of their society,” says Small.
This coming summer, ISGAP will be training professors at Oxford. Applications have poured in from Canada, the United States, the UK, Russia, China, Brazil and Argentina. Yet already, it boasts a prestigious staff, including experts like Robert Wistrich, Martin Kramer, Bassam Tibi, Shimon Samuels, Valentina Colombo, Irwin Mansdorf, Meir Litvak, Richard Landes and others.
Despite the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (a campaign by “Israel-deniers”), the campus Israeli “apartheid” hate-fests and the indoctrination taking place in social sciences and departments of Middle East studies, we now have the beginning of a successful “fight back” strategy. Let’s hope it continues to rise to the enormous challenge it faces.
Phyllis Chesler is the author of “The New Anti-Semitism.” Her latest,book, “Living History: On The Front Line for Israel and the Jews, 2000-2015,” will be out in May.
Prof. Phyllis Chesler
The writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of fifteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has published three studies about honor killing and is at work on a fourth. Her latest book is An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan). Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com