More on Yale

Prof. Lipstadt’s comments about last August’s Conference at Yale on Anti-Semitism are simply not realistic.  As a panel chairman and speaker at that Conference, as well as a speaker at many other conferences around the world, I can say that this one was exceedingly well done — particularly since it was their first attempt at such an event. The vast majority of the presentations were outstanding, done by scholars and experts.  For such a conference you can’t ask for more.  I appreciate that the PLO didn’t like my presentation or Rabbi Abe Cooper’s.  Rabbi Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center is one of the leading scholars in the world on this subject, and I invited him to the conference.  All of the “Jews are pigs” images that we used, and which the PLO disliked, where taken directly from Arab web sites.  Possibly the PLO point the finger of blame at their Jew-hating brethren who now run over 1,000 such web sites — tracked by Prof. Gabi Weiman’s institute at Haifa University.  The bottom line is that the complaints about this conference came from: (1) a Syrian student at Yale; and (2) the PLO representative in Washington.  What else would you expect?  The Yale Vice Provost who “attended” the conference came for 10 minutes, gave her little welcome talk, and then ran off.  No other Yale management attended or saw any of it.

Her comments about scholarship and advocacy at any university institute in the real world are plainly naive.  There are elements of both in all of them to some extent, and that’s just the way the world is.  For several years I have been at Columbia’s Saltzman Institute of War & Peace Studies (formerly the Institute of War & Peace Studies) founded in 1951 by Dwight Eisenhower when he was Columbia’s President.  We do indeed have a number of great scholars at this institute, who publish quite extensively, but to say there is only scholarship and no “advocacy” here would simply be wrong.  Indeed, most of the Middle East institutes in the U.S. are rabidly pro-Palestinian. If you go through the institutes at Harvard and elsewhere you find the same thing.  Almost all of these depend on outside donors and with the money comes a point of view.  There is no escaping it.  The successful institute directors find a good balance rather than strive for 100% academic purity which cannot be achieved.

As far as other institutes working in this general area go, there are very few, but I would also point to the Miller Center at Miami University directed by Prof. Haim Shaked, formerly Dean of Tel-Aviv University and founder of the Jaffe Center there.  Prof. Shaked is both an excellent scholar and manager and that center has benefited greatly from his leadership, as well as good support from Miami’s President Donna Shalala. 

Abraham R. Wagner

Abraham Wagner teaches in the areas of national security and intelligence and is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. At SIPA, he teaches on how the evolution of technology has impacted on the use of military force, development of national security strategy, and intelligence operations. In 2009, he initiated a new course at SIPA on national intelligence estimates and their impact on national security. He also gives lectures on national security and counter-terrorism issues.

Wagner writes and consults on national and homeland security issues, with a focus on technical issues, such as the evolving threat from cyberterrorism, issues related to electronic surveillance, and nuclear proliferation. He also serves as Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism and serves as a consultant to several U.S. Government agencies.

Wagner’s publications include Domestic Intelligence: Needs and Strategies (2009); Terrorism and Surveillance: The Technical and Legal Context (2007); Terrorism, Global Security and the Law (2007); Meeting the Terrorist Challenge: Coping with Failures of Leadership and Intelligence (2007); Cyber-Terrorism: Evolution and Trends (2004); a four-volume series (with Anthony Cordesman) Lessons of Modern War (Volume 1: The Middle East, Volume 2: The Falklands and Afghanistan, Volume 3: The Iran-Iraq War; and Volume 4: The Golf War), and Lebanon in Crisis (1975). He has also published several book chapters, including “Cyberterrorism and the Internet,” in numerous articles, and op ed pieces for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe.

Wagner received his BA from Syracuse University; MA and PhD from the University of Rochester and JD from the University of Chicago Law School. Previously, he was an Adjunct Professor of International Relations at University of Southern California and also teaches at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzilya, Israel.


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