Yale parlay aims to tackle anti-Semitism

Conference deals with topics

The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), the first US-based institute devoted exclusively to academic research covering rising global Jew-hatred, hosted a conference on Tuesday tackling the widespread state of denial of anti-Semitism. The conference title - "The Psychological Impact of the Threat of Contemporary Genocidal Antisemitism: From Denial and paralysis to Understanding the Challenge" - sought answers to such topics as the West's failure to fathom Islamic anti-Semitism in the Muslim world and Iran's aim to obliterate Israel. The YIISA Director, Dr. Charles Small, said in a statement that "Anti-Semitism begins with Jews, but never ends with Jews. Reactionary forces seem to be gaining strength, and anti-Semitism and hatred seem to be spreading. It is imperative that as scholars we examine the social reality of these phenomena. In doing so, it is our intention to contribute to a greater understanding and to find solutions to these pressing problems. We know from history that these issues will not disappear on their own." YIISA was the brain-child of Dr. Small, an Oxford University trained academic, who has taught at both Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University, Jerusalem. YIISA was founded in December 2006 at Yale University. A study commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League, which co-sponsored the Yale conference, found in a December/January poll that 31 percent of Europeans blamed Jews in the financial industry for the economic meltdown, while 58 percent of those asked said that their opinion of Jews had worsened because of events in Israel. The ADL polled 3,500 adults in Austria, France, Hungary, Poland, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. Dr. Hadar Lubin, an Israeli who is co-director of the post-traumatic stress center in New Haven and an assistant clinical professor at Yale University, delivered a talk on "Trauma in Disguise: Antisemitism" at the conference. She told the Jerusalem Post that the "trauma model" can explain why the West ignores Iranian genocidal anti-Semitism. There is an "identification with the aggressor out of fear" that the perpetrator will cause further harm, according to Lubin who is a medical doctor. That helps to explain why the Iranian "threat to annihilate "Israel, which is "very straightforward, very alarming", is ignored by the West, she said. Lubin cited a "collusion of silence", which takes place within family childhood abuse situations, as a model for understanding the international communities' failure to fathom the seriousness of Iran's deadly threats. The strengthening of the perpetrator-Iran-is leading not only to persecuting Jews but contributing, according to Lubin, to repression against the religious minority "Bahais, and moderate Iranians are being killed, and women and scholars" are subjected to repression. Dr. Neil Kressel, a visiting associate professor at YIISA and professor of psychology at William Paterson University, told the Post that denying Iranian genocidal anti-Semitism revolves around "disagreements about what anti-Semitism is." A telling example, according to Kressel, is the argument that "they do not hate Jews but hate Zionists." He said that explanation does not "hold water." The denial involves "denying actual anti-Semitism", said Kressel. His talk at the Yale conference covered "Why Well-Intentioned Westerners Fail to Grasp the Dangers Associated with Antisemitism in the Muslim World." He cited Pew polling number revealing spectacularly high levels of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world. "Coaching for Killing: What Motivational Mechanisms Underlie Islamists Terrorists' Ideology" was the title of Dr. Idit Shalev's research project and lecture. Shalev, an Israeli Post-Doctorate Associate at YIISA and psychologist, told the Jpost she examined the Hamas Charter and how it functions as a "manual of behavior" for its followers. The Hamas Charter "contains symbols" such as the "Protocols of Zion" and the "contextual cue" of money, which appears frequently in the charter, serves to stoke anti-Semitism as a motivational force.