LONDON – A new institute for the study of anti-Semitism at a prestigious London university has appointed its first director.
The University of London’s Birkbeck College announced on Monday that David Feldman – from the college’s School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy – has been appointed professor and the first director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the college.
The Pears Foundation and Birkbeck announced the creation of the Institute in November, following a £1.5 million investment from Pears, a UK-based foundation that invests more than £6m. annually to address social issues in the UK and abroad.
The foundation’s work in Holocaust education includes the Holocaust Education Development Program at the University of London’s Institute of Education, a £1.5m. joint venture with the government to improve teaching about the subject in UK high schools.
The Pears Institute will become part of Birkbeck’s School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy, and will have close links with the Schools of Arts and of Law.
“We are delighted that Prof. Feldman is taking up this important post which will advance our ongoing work to understand and address anti-Semitism in the UK and abroad,” said Trevor Pears, executive chairman of the Pears Foundation. “We established the institute with Birkbeck at this particular time because we consider that a broader approach combined with greater academic rigor and scholarship is both needed and overdue.”
“Birkbeck commands an unparalleled combination of expertise in the
field of anti-Semitism and racism in a wide range of disciplines,” said
Prof. David Latchman, master of Birkbeck. “Prof. Feldman’s expertise
within the History department, as well as the partnership with the
Wiener Library, means that the Institute will bring a historical
dimension to the subject that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
“Anti-Semitism is not only a hugely important subject in its own right
but also a particular instance of a broader phenomenon,” Feldman said.
“The question of whether and how to integrate or segregate religious,
migrant and ethnic communities has been an abiding issue from the
ancient world to the present day. By placing anti-Semitism in this
broad context, the Pears Institute will promote historical
understanding and contribute to contemporary discussion and policy on
racism in societies which are becoming more not less diverse.”
Danny Stone, director of the All-Party Parliamentary Committee Against Anti-Semitism, called the appointment "very important and exciting."
“While manifesting in obvious ways, anti-Semitism can be a complex phenomenon to understand. The more help there is to demystify such complexities, the better. I look forward to working with the Institute as its program develops,” he said.