This is disturbing. A Yale University center that purports to study anti-Semitism is holding a three-day conference on "the crisis" of global anti-Semitism (ending tomorrow) that is dedicated to the idea that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.
The flotilla raid, anti-Semitic. Helen Thomas, anti-Semitic. The very idea of Palestinian identity, anti-Semitic.
That last claim--“The Central Role of Palestinian Antisemitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity"--was put forward Monday, shockingly, by Itamar Marcus, a leader of the settler movement in the occupied West Bank. Marcus has connections to the Central Fund of Israel, which raises money here for the settlers, including their "urgent security needs."
The conference opened with a speech from an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Aviva Raz-Schechter. And Charles Small, director of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism, which is hosting the conference, said last spring that the confab was about Israel:
The largest number of papers, and therefore reflecting the greatest concern, address contemporary antisemitism and the demonization of Israel and those associated or made to be associated with Israel. There is a paper on issues of Jewish self-hatred and how some Jews, especially intellectuals, are distancing themselves from Israel.
That's anti-Semitism? Here is the panel on "self-hatred":
Plenary: Self Hatred and Contemporary Antisemitism • Professor Doron Ben-Atar, Fordham University: “Without Ahavath Yisrael [love for the people of Israel]: Thoughts on Radical Anti-Zionism at Brandeis” • Professor Richard Landes, Boston University: “Scourges and Their Audiences: What Drives Jews to Loathe Israel Publicly and What To Do About It?” • Professor Alvin Rosenfeld, Indiana University: “Beyond Criticism and Dissent: On Jewish Contributions to the Delegitimation of Israel”
The speakers' list is here. Many of the speakers have Israel agendas, including Irwin Cotler, the Canadian politician who has led attacks on the Goldstone Report; Ruth Wisse, the Harvard Yiddishist who has called on young American Jews to enlist in an army of Israel defenders in the U.S.; Barak Seener, who has incited against the Palestinian citizens of Israel as a threat from within; Anne Bayefsky of the neoconservative Hudson Institute, another Goldstone attacker; Mark Dubowitz, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose main issue is cracking down on Iran; Anne Herzberg of the NGO Monitor, again an Israel advocacy group; Samuel Edelman of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, another Israel lobbyist; and Menahem Milson of the Elliott Abrams-linked hasbara outfit, MEMRI.
One person who alerted me to the conference, Charlotte Kates, writes: "Amazingly enough from the descriptions, this does not appear to be a conference sponsored by Hillel or other open advocacy groups, but rather by an academic center at the University. It's particularly interesting that... an academic conference scorning the very concept of Palestinian identity and inviting presenters from NGO Monitor, 'Palestinian Media Watch' and MEMRI passes almost without comment at all - and the very same people who attack Palestinian scholars' academic freedom find conferences such as this to be perfectly acceptable and legitimate."
I don't think it's possible to understand this conference without understanding the prominence of Zionist donors in prestige institutional life. The other person who alerted me to the conference, Ben White, rightly focuses on the besmirching of Yale University by the presence of this festival of propaganda: "What is the role of Yale/academia in this kind of exercise?" And what a travesty, he adds, that "fighting anti-semitism - an anti-racist struggle - is being openly appropriated by far-right Zionist groupings, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lobbyists like NGO Monitor, and Orientalist 'Arab/anti-terror experts'."
Update: A friend points out the role of Richard Landes. He keeps peddling the story that the death of Muhammad al-Durra (the six-year-old Gazan boy who was killed at the start of the intifada) was staged, something that Gerald Steinberg says is now "widely accepted." Landes even set up an entire website more or less dedicated to peddling the conspiracy theory; check out his attempt to present in an even-handed manner his 'five different scenarios' for the killing.