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Citing growing anti-Semitism around the world, Yale University said Tuesday it has created the first university-based center in North America dedicated to the study of the subject.
The Yale Initiative for Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism will provide a forum for scholars to research contemporary causes of anti-Semitism and ways to combat it, said Charles Small, the center's director. The center plans to offer courses, conferences and seminars, but it is too soon to say whether there will be a degree program, he said.
"Anti-Semitism has re-emerged internationally in a manner that many leading scholars and policymakers take seriously," Small said. "Because of this, there is a need to establish a high-caliber, interdisciplinary, nonpartisan, scholarly institute, so that students and faculty can engage these issues fully."
In a report last year, New York-based Human Rights First said racist and anti-Semitic violence was up dramatically in much of Europe. In Britain, for instance, anti-Semitic personal assaults doubled in 2004 over the previous year, said the organization, formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
Small cited France, where the torture and killing of a young Jewish man in February has rekindled concerns about anti-Semitism.
"Increasingly, Jewish communities around the world feel under threat," Small said. "It's almost like going back into the lab. I think we need to understand the current manifestation of this disease."
Small is also the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy, an independent nonprofit organization. He earned his doctorate of philosophy from Oxford University and has taught at the University of London, Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The new center, which will be based at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, will run a seminar series, "Anti-Semitism in Comparative Perspective," on Thursday afternoons. The first speaker, on September 28, will be James Carroll, Boston Globe columnist and prize-winning author, who will speak on "The Church and the Jews: A Lesson in History."