Yale to Open Satellite Center for Study of Anti-Semitism in Palau; Elie Wiesel Endows Opray Winfrey Chair in Higher Anti-Semitic Studies

May 5, 2009

In News

By Benjamin Weinthal

The West is ignoring Iranian genocidal anti-Semitism due to a psychological “trauma model,” according to an Israeli professor.

Dr. Hadar Lubin, co-director of the post-traumatic stress center in New Haven, Connecticut, and an assistant clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at Yale University, delivered a talk on “Trauma in Disguise: Antisemitism” at a conference last week.

There is an “identification with the aggressor out of fear” that the perpetrator will cause further harm, Lubin told The Jerusalem Post. This helps to explain why the Iranian “threat to annihilate Israel, which is very straightforward, very alarming, is ignored by the West,” she said.

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 the conference titled, “The Psychological Impact of the Threat of Contemporary Genocidal Antisemitism: From Denial and Paralysis to Understanding the Challenge,” which sought answers on such topics as the West’s failure to fathom Islamic anti-Semitism in the Muslim world and Iran’s aim to obliterate Israel.

Lubin cited the “collusion of silence” that often accompanies child abuse as a model for understanding the international community’s failure to fathom the seriousness of Iran’s threats. The strengthening of the perpetrator – Iran – is leading not only to increased persecution of Jews but also of other groups in Iran, according to Lubin. “Bahais and moderate Iranians are being killed, and women and scholars are subjected to repression,” she said.

Dr. Neil Kressel, a visiting associate professor at YIISA and a professor of psychology at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, told the Post the denial of Iranian genocidal anti-Semitism revolved around “disagreements about what anti-Semitism is.” A telling example, according to Kressel, was the argument that “they do not hate Jews but hate Zionists.” That explanation did not “hold water,” but rather involved “denying actual anti-Semitism,” he said.

The YIISA’s 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,” he said.

YIISA was the brainchild of Small, an Oxford University-trained academic who has taught at both Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“Coaching for Killing: What Motivational Mechanisms Underlie Islamist Terrorists’ Ideology” was the title of Dr. Idit Shalev’s research project and lecture at the conference. Shalev, an Israeli Post-Doctorate at YIISA and psychologist, told the Post that 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, and serve to stoke anti-Semitism as a motivational force,she said.

Many Western European politicians are advocating talks with Hamas but ignore or downplay the violent anti-Semitism of Hamas, according to critics. A leading German Green Party politician, Jürgen Trittin, urged Europe in February to negotiate with Hamas. A study commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), who co-sponsored the YIISA conference, found in a December/January poll that 31 percent of Europeans blamed Jews in the financial industry for the economic meltdown, while 58% of those asked said 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.

David Waren, the Regional ADL Director in Connecticut, told the Post, “We are proud to have cooperated with YIISA in developing this interdisciplinary forum to understand the psychology of contemporary anti-Semitism and its societal impact. ADL is the leading provider of programs counteracting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. Our collaboration with YIISA enriches ADL’s work as we develop cutting edge strategies and initiatives to address the kinds of issues explored during the conference.”