Yale's anti-Semitism whitewash

New York Post
July 6, 2011
Adam Brodsky

Yale just announced a new program for studying anti-Semitism, just weeks after it shut an earlier version that called attention to manifestations of Muslim Jew-hatred. The program will let Yale claim that it considers the subject important.

Alas, the replacement might only make a bad situation worse. And it won't be just Jews who pay the price.

Yale's approach reflects much of America's: Tread carefully before criticizing Muslims. Alas, that makes an honest study of contemporary Jew-hatred a bit difficult.

"When you talk about the most dangerous and virulent anti-Semitism today, you have to focus primarily on the Muslim world," says Neil Kressel, a professor tied to the now-shuttered Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism.

Kressel, who's writing a book on the subject (and who, full disclosure, happens to be my brother-in-law), says many varieties of Jew-hatred exist -- but if you're going to study current anti-Semitism honestly, there's no way to avoid emphasizing Muslim and Arab strains.

"Hamas's founding charter is chock-full of classic Jew-hatred. Iran's Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust-denier. Top government officials in many Muslim-majority countries are full-fledged anti-Semites. Saudi Arabia exports anti-Jewish curricula around the world. Ultra-nationalists and Islamist media in Turkey are obsessed with Jews. Even moderates and liberals in many Muslim-majority countries are not free of Jew-hatred," he says.

Yet Yale -- as The Post's Abby Wisse Schachter explained when she broke the story last month -- shut down YIISA largely because some of its researchers dared call attention to Muslim anti-Semitism. Facing cries of "Islamophobia," Yale pulled the plug.

Alas, Yale then had a new problem: It was accused of cynically sacrificing honest academic inquiry and bowing to anti-Semitism's defenders. Just as it may have feared the loss of Arab/Muslim funding in deciding to close YIISA, it may have likewise fretted about a donation drain if it didn't open a replacement.

Thus was born the new Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism. That may let the school have it both ways.

Its director, Maurice Samuels, insists the program will "examine both contemporary and historical forms of anti-Semitism" and that Yale has placed no restrictions on it. But Samuels comes from Yale's French department. And he seems to go out of his way to play down Muslim animosity toward Jews.

When I asked him, for instance, if he thought Islamic sources are an important part of contemporary Jew-hatred -- as Kressel and experts like Tarek Fatah and Bassam Tibi assert -- Samuels said only that "anti-Semitism can be found in many countries and cultures, including some Muslim ones."

Hopelessly naive? PC? Fearful of heat from anti-Semites?

He decried the "upsurge in violence against Jews around the world." But asked to describe that violence, he cited attacks "all over the world, from Paris to Buenos Aires," including the murder of Ilan Halimi in France in 2006.

Hmm. Did he miss the fact that Halimi's murder was fueled, in part, by Muslim anti-Semitism and that the two most violent attacks against Jews in Buenos Aires, in 1992 and 1994, were the handiwork of the Islamic Republic of Iran?

On the other hand, he did say his own book project "is about the intersection of anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism in France, from the French Revolution to the present."


No, nothing wrong with that. But if his program pulls punches when it comes to modern-day Muslim hostility toward Jews, it will leave a gaping hole in the world's understanding -- not only of anti-Semitism, but also of Muslims.

Kressel, in his upcoming book, argues that academics have studiously avoided focusing on Islamic Jew-hatred; it's safer, career-wise, to deal with long-dead anti-Semites and those on academia's approved-enemies list. YIISA's closing proves him right; it was, after all, the only such program of its kind in America.

With a neutered program, Yale would be promoting ignorance about a hatred hardly limited to Jews. As most folks know, the world's greatest terrorist threat today comes from Islamists; Jews may be at the top of their target list, but, as the last decade showed, all nonbelievers are at risk.

Meanwhile, a program at prestigious Yale that soft-pedals all-too-common Muslim hatreds will leave a dangerously wrong impression that all's well. Far from shedding light on a hugely important problem, a great university will have instead helped shield it from scrutiny.

What a contribution to scholarship.

11 arrested for disrupting Israeli ambassador

Orange County Register
February 8, 2010

Eleven people were arrested Monday evening during a raucous lecture at UC Irvine where Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren came to talk about U.S.-Israel relations. (UCI earlier said that 12 were arrested.)

Oren was interrupted 10 times  Monday while trying to give his speech before 500 people at the UCI Student Center, where there was heavy security. Oren took a 20 minute break after the fourth protest, asked for hospitality and resumed his speech, only to be interrupted again by young men yelling at him every few minutes. Many members of the audience also applauded Oren.

After the 10th interruption, several dozens students who opposed Oren’s talk got up and walked out and staged a protest outside.  It is not clear whether they were members of the UCI Muslim Student Union, which issued an email earlier in the day condemning Oren’s appearance on campus.

Oren continued talking, completing his speech at 6:42 p.m. Originally, he planned to take questions from the audience. But that was canceled after the repeated delays.
The second person yelled about “Zionism.”

The third yelled, “Israel.” The fourth could not be clearly heard.

UCI Police Chief Paul Henisey said it is not clear whether any of the protesters are UCI students.

Mark Petracca, a UCI political science professor,  lost his temper and yelled, “This is embarrassing  … Shame on all of you.”

UCI Chancellor Michael Drake also told the audience that he was embarrassed by the outburst.

Drake and Petracca were booed by many people, and applauded by others.

Hours earlier, UCI’s Muslim Student Union said in an email today that its members “condemn and oppose the presence of Michael Oren, the ambassador of Israel to the United States, on our campus today. We resent that the Law School and the Political Science Department on our campus have agreed to cosponsor a public figure who represents a state that continues to break international and humanitarian law and is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined.”

The Jewish Federation Orange County said earlier in the day that it had been informed that Oren’s speech at UC Irvine late today might be disrupted by protestors.

Shalom C. Elcott, president of JFOC, said in a statement today that, “We have been informed that some students may attempt to disrupt the event. We want to assure the community that our goal is to create a positive environment — indeed, a sacred space - for open dialogue, intellectual debate and civil discourse that befits a university setting.”

This was not the first time that there has been confrontation at a political lecture at UCI.

In January 2007, Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum was interrupted by protesters at UCI while giving a speech titled, “The Threat to Israel’s Existence.” The protesters ended up getting into a brief shouting match with some members of the audience.

Police identify 11 students arrested at UCI

Orange County Register

February 9th, 2010

UC Irvine Police arrested 11 people Monday evening on suspicion of  disrupting a speech that Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was giving on U.S.-Israel relations.  The protesters — 8 UCI students and 3 UC Riverside students — were cited for disrupting a public event. (UCI said last night that 12 people had been arrested.)

Police have identified the students as:

UC Irvine

Joseph Tamim Haider

Osama Ahmed Sabry Shabaik

Mohemed Mohy Eldeen Abdelgany

Ali Mohammad Sayeed

Asaad Traina

Mohammad Qureashi

Aslam Akhtar

Hakim Nasreddine Kebir

UC Riverside

Taher Herzallam

Shaheen Waleed Nassar

Khalid Bahgat Akari

Caught up in a cartoon controversy

Mohammed images that stirred ire in ’05 omitted from book

By James F. Smith
Boston Globe
August 22, 2009

WALTHAM - When Yale University Press publishes “The Cartoons that Shook the World’’ by Brandeis University political scientist Jytte Klausen in November, the book will be missing a key element: The cartoons that shook the world.

Four years after the publication of 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed triggered boycotts and deadly violence, Yale’s decision to cut them from Klausen’s book has set off a second wave of arguments.

At the center of the controversy is a scholarly, footnoted manuscript by a respected academic who set out to explain how the original publication of the cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2005 led to unrest that took more than 200 lives.

Klausen argued against Yale’s decision, but in the end grudgingly acquiesced, in the face of Yale’s insistence that more bloodshed would be likely to follow republication of the cartoons.

But she did not agree when Yale went further, editing out historical artworks showing the seventh-century Prophet. Many Muslims object to any depiction of Mohammed.

The book will appear with an author’s note from Klausen, who says Yale’s decision is a violation of academic freedom and a case of “anticipatory fear on the part of the university of consequences that it only dimly perceives.’’

“The metaphor I use is the monster in the woods: You can’t see it at night but you know it’s there, and if you provoke the monster, it’s your responsibility,’’ she said in an interview this week in her Brandeis office.

Klausen, a native of Denmark who has been at Brandeis for 17 years and is a specialist on Muslim communities in Europe, seemed the ideal author to unravel how and why the original publication of the cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper resulted, several months later, in boycotts, protests, and violence thousands of miles away.

Now she finds herself entangled in debates that sometimes seem reduced to posturing on the Internet, stripped of nuance, not unlike the original cartoon conflict.

Some scholars and conservative bloggers are accusing Yale of cowardice, arguing that academic freedom should not be surrendered to a handful of extremists. And an Arab political website in Cairo is railing about the Danish professor from a Jewish university trying to publish cartoons to insult the Prophet, hardly the case by any measure.

Yale insists it had no responsible alternative. Yale University Press director John Donatich said the university polled two dozen security and counterterrorism officials and academics who study Islam, and the majority of the security experts agreed that reprinting the images involved a risk of deadly violence.

“The turning point for me was when I was able to see it less as an issue of censorship because we are not suppressing original material,’’ Donatich said. “We are just not reprinting what was available elsewhere. . . . At that point, it became a security issue and not a censorship issue.’’

 Though Klausen recognizes the predicament Yale faced, she criticizes the way Yale handled it: “The issue was, should you really ask for that sort of advice in the absence of providing context? But once you got that advice, and coming from the sources it came from, I don’t think [Yale] had much choice. If I was an administrator at the university, I would have pulled the cartoons.’’

Amid the controversy, admirers of Klausen’s work fear that her careful study of the conflict could be overwhelmed by the same kind of simplistic debate that enflamed the original dispute.

“It’s sad - and a little bit ironic - that after writing a book about the caricatures of the Prophet (peace be upon him), she risks being caricatured herself,’’ Tarek Masoud, an assistant professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government who was a peer reviewer of the book, said in an e-mailed reply to a request for comment. “She is a serious scholar with tremendous respect for Islam and Muslims, and I hope this will not be lost in this controversy.’’

In her book, Klausen concludes that much of the violence, portrayed at the time as spontaneous outrage over the cartoons, was in fact manufactured to whip up anti-Western emotions for specific political goals. The violence was focused in three countries: Libya, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In each, she says, there were preexisting political conflicts for which the cartoon conflict offered fuel.

Donatich said he did not believe the images were essential because “the book is not a graphic analysis of the cartoons, and it’s not a history of the depiction of the Prophet.’’ He called it “very neutral, balanced, carefully reasoned, almost a detective story about how dissent is mobilized, and what are the political uses of dissent and the misunderstandings between cultures.’’

He added that the newspaper page is available on the Internet. The Boston Globe was among many publications that decided against publishing the cartoons in 2005, in part because they were readily available online.

Fareed Zakaria, editor of the international edition of Newsweek and a member of the Yale Corporation, said he advised Yale to drop the images.

“You’re balancing issues of the First Amendment and academic freedom, but then you have this real question of what would be the consequences on human life,’’ he said.

But Boston College professor Sheila Blair, a specialist on Islamic art, asked, “Art history without pictures?’’

She was one specialist Yale consulted who favored publishing the images. Blair said omitting the historical art was reinforcing the mistaken notion that all Muslims object to depicting the Prophet, when some cultures have rich traditions of doing so, and her own previous book had contained such images without a word of protest.

Klausen delivered her manuscript to Yale in December, along with the illustrations. They were essential to understanding the story, she said. “The book was written around the illustrations.’’

Her book was never meant to reprint the 12 cartoons produced by various artists for the newspaper, several of which are insulting to Islam. Klausen wanted only to reproduce the offending Jyllands-Posten newspaper page from Sept. 30, 2005.

“Many of the cartoons did not actually show Mohammed,’’ she said. “Some of them made fun of the newspaper.

“And some, three, arguably four, were racialist depictions of a Semitic Mohammed, drawn in the tradition of European anti-Semitism.’’

On July 23, Donatich asked Klausen to meet him and Linda Koch Lorimer, vice president and secretary of the Yale Corporation, at the Westin Hotel in Boston, where the decision to exclude the cartoon page was explained to the author.

“We argued about it for two hours,’’ Klausen said. “The people who gave advice to the university were not given the opportunity to read my book. They reacted based on e-mailed pictures of the illustrations.’’

“What happened here is strikingly similar to when the Danish mullahs were traveling around the world e-mailing their pictures to make people angry,’’ Klausen said. “Yale University also, in a similar fashion, removed the cartoons from the context.’’


Muslim imam in France defies death threats to heal

The Associated Press

Published: January 22, 2009

DRANCY, France: A fragile cease-fire has silenced the violence in Gaza, but a continent away, a Muslim prayer leader known for reaching out to France's Jews is facing death threats.

Hassen Chalghoumi is one of the most visible victims of the raw friction between French Jews and Muslims, and among the best poised to help heal the wounds between the two faiths.

France is home to western Europe's largest Jewish and Muslim communities, with 600,000 Jews and an estimated 5 million Muslims. Anti-Semitic attacks have soared in France after Israel opened its Dec. 27 offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The Tunisian-born Chalghoumi, 35, has found himself caught in the middle. His car had oil poured on it. He has received anonymous death threats on his cell phone. His house is now under police watch and he is shadowed by a bodyguard.

"There are those who are not happy with what I do," Chalghoumi said after a recent prayer service in this suburb northeast of Paris, a former World War II transit station for Jews on their way to Nazi death camps.

"They say, 'He goes to the synagogue, shakes hands with the rabbi while Israel is bombing the Palestinians.' Some (Muslim) youths don't want to shake my hand," he said.

The Middle East conflict has ricocheted through Europe, and particularly France, since Israel began its offensive. A temporary cease-fire called by Israel then Hamas went into effect Sunday with nearly 1,300 Gazans killed.

French officials have provided no count of the number of Jews attacked, synagogues firebombed or vandalism. Jewish organizations have counted between 58 and 97 acts, depending on whether hate e-mails and threatening phone calls are included.

"I don't think the cease-fire will diminish anything because there has been an incitement to hate," said Sammy Ghozlan, who heads the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism. He claims the current climate is worse than that during the second Palestinian uprising in 2001.

Still, Chalghoumi, a father of five, vows to keep alive his private mission of cultivating harmony between France's Muslim and Jewish communities.

Giving up "would mean that I stop everything, abandon the dialogue," Chalghoumi said. "I've worked three years for a rapprochement. I feel it is going up in thin air."

In 2006, the imam attended a ceremony commemorating the Holocaust at the Drancy deportation memorial, and called on Muslims to respect the memory of Jewish deportees. For his efforts, his home was vandalized.

The cease-fire has lowered tensions, giving him some room to work, and Chalghoumi says his first job is renewing confidence within the Muslim community.

Still, he has postponed plans for a visit this week to the Drancy mosque by 200 Jewish and Muslim women.

"We're not just working for rapprochement, but to take away the hate," Chalghoumi said. "This conflict has made a huge gap between the Jewish and Muslim communities."


Intimidating the West, from Rushdie to Benedict

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
September 26, 2006

[NY Sun title: "A Look at Islamic Violence"]

The violence by Muslims responding to comments by the pope fit a pattern that has been building and accelerating since 1989. Six times since then, Westerners did or said something that triggered death threats and violence in the Muslim world. Looking at them in the aggregate offers useful insights.

·         1989 – Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses prompted Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a death edict against him and his publishers, on the grounds that the book "is against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran." Subsequent rioting led to over 20 deaths, mostly in India.

·         1997 – The U.S. Supreme Court refused to remove a 1930s frieze showing Muhammad as lawgiver that decorates the main court chamber; the Council on American-Islamic Relations made an issue of this, leading to riots and injuries in India.

·         2002 – The American evangelical leader Jerry Falwell calls Muhammad a " terrorist," leading to church burnings and at least 10 deaths in India.

·         2005 – An incorrect story in Newsweek, reporting that American interrogators at Guantánamo Bay, "in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet," is picked up by the famous Pakistani cricketer, Imran Khan, and prompts protests around the Muslim world, leading to at least 15 deaths..

·         February 2006 – The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten publishes twelve cartoons of Muhammad, spurring a Palestinian Arab imam in Copenhagen, Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, to excite Muslim opinion against the Danish government. He succeeds so well, hundreds die, mostly in Nigeria.

·         September 2006 – Pope Benedict XVI quotes a Byzantine emperor's views that what is new in Islam is "evil and inhuman," prompting the firebombing of churches and the murder of several Christians.

These six rounds show a near-doubling in frequency: 8 years between the first and second rounds, then 5, then 3, 1, and ½.

The first instance – Ayatollah Khomeini's edict against Mr. Rushdie – came as a complete shock, for no one had hitherto imagined that a Muslim dictator could tell a British citizen living in London what he could not write about. Seventeen years later, calls for the execution of the pope (including one at the Westminster Cathedral in London) had acquired a too-familiar quality. The outrageous had become routine, almost predictable. As Muslim sensibilities grew more excited, Western ones became more phlegmatic.

Incidents started in Europe (Mr. Rushdie, Danish cartoons, Pope Benedict) have grown much larger than those based in the United States (Supreme Court, Rev. Falwell, Koran flushing), reflecting the greater efficacy of Islamist aggression against Europeans than against Americans.

Islamists ignore subtleties. Mr. Rushdie's magical realism, the positive intent of the Supreme Court frieze, the falsehood of the Koran-flushing story (ever tried putting a book down the toilet?), the benign nature of the Danish cartoons, or the subtleties of Benedict's speech – none of these mattered.

What rouses Muslim crowds and what does not is somewhat unpredictable. The Satanic Verses was not nearly as offensive to Muslim sensibilities as a host of other writings, medieval, modern, and contemporary. Other American Evangelists said worse things about Muhammad than Rev. Falwell did; the southern preacher Jerry Vines called the Muslim prophet "a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives," without violence ensuing. Why did Norwegian preacher Runar Søgaard's deeming Muhammad "a confused pedophile" remain a local dispute while the Danish cartoons went global?

One answer is that Islamists with an international reach (Ayatollah Khomeini, CAIR, Mr. Khan, Abu Laban) usually play a key role in transforming a general sense of displeasure into an operational fury. If no Islamist agitates, the issue stays relatively quiet.

The extent of the violence is even more unpredictable – one could not anticipate the cartoons causing the most fatalities and the pope's quote the fewest. And why so much violence in India?

These incidents also spotlight a total lack of reciprocity by Muslims. The Saudi government bans Bibles, crosses, and Stars of David, while Muslims routinely publish disgusting cartoons of Jews.

No conspiracy lies behind these six rounds of inflammation and aggression, but examined in retrospect, they coalesce and form a single, prolonged campaign of intimidation, with surely more to come. The basic message – "You Westerners no longer have the privilege to say what you will about Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur'an, Islamic law rules you too" – will return again and again until Westerners either do submit or Muslims realize their effort has failed.


BBC frightened of criticizing Islam, says archbishop

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent


The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has accused the BBC of bias against Christianity and says the broadcaster fears a terrorist backlash if it is critical of Islam.

The archbishop, the second most senior figure in the Church of England's hierarchy, said Christians took "more knocks" than other faiths at the hands of the BBC.

"They can do to us what they dare not do to the Muslims," he said. "We are fair game because they can get away with it. We don't go down there and say, 'We are going to bomb your place.' That is not in our nature."

The Ugandan-born archbishop nevertheless said Christians must be more forceful in promoting their beliefs.

Blaming the "chattering classes" for undermining traditional Christian culture, he said: "They see themselves as holding the flag for Britain and that Britain is definitely secular and atheist. I want them to have their say but not to lord it over the rest of us."

In an interview with the Daily Mail, he called for a return to family values and an end to the tyranny of materialism, especially at Christmas.

"We have become a society where we all gather around the microwave or the television. Even while you are eating, the television is blaring. Come on!

"Parents should spend more time talking to children because that is where behaviour is learned, in the home."

Dr Sentamu rejected the idea of the Church severing its remaining ties with the state. "People of other faiths say to me that the Church establishment is critical because it is a bulwark against a secularising agenda," he said.

"The Church of England reminds the nation that in this country the Queen is Defender of the Faith, head of the Commonwealth and head of state." The Queen, he added, was the "real uniting force" and no politician "could ever rise to her level".

Dr Sentamu also questioned whether Muslim women were required to wear the veil by the Koran, and argued that those who did should not expect British society to be reordered to accommodate them.

He said Muslim scholars would say three things about the veil. "First, does it conform to norms of decency? Secondly, does it render you more secure? And thirdly, what kind of Islam are you projecting by wearing it?

"I think in the British context it renders you less secure because you stick out and it brings unwelcome attention.

"On the first question (of whether the veil conforms to norms of decency) I don't think it does conform."

The archbishop said he never wore a cross when visiting a synagogue or mosque, explaining: "Because I am going into someone else's home. And I can't simply say, 'Take me as I am, whether you like it or not.'

"I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can't expect British society to be reconfigured around you. No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life."

A BBC spokesman declined to comment but referred to a newspaper article by Mark Thompson, the director general, which denied that the BBC was systematically biased against Christianity and in favour of Islam, saying that it did not square with the facts.

The Muslim Council of Britain said that if women chose to wear the veil on religious grounds it was "their business and no one else's" as long as it did not conflict with the rights of others.