The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis -

David New­man may be a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal ge­og­ra­phy in Is­rael. But this hardly qual­i­fies him to eval­u­ate the aca­demic cen­tres of Jewish Stud­ies in this coun­try ( JC Es­say, Septem­ber 12).

His al­le­ga­tion that those at Ox­ford (Yarn­ton), Manch­ester and the Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don are “char­ac­terised by moderate schol­ar­ship largely un­known be­yond the shores of the Bri­tish Isles” is as in­sult­ing as it is lu­di­crous.

Pro­fes­sor New­man does not even men­tion Cam­bridge, whose unique Geniza Col­lec­tion and its dis­tin­guished staff at­tract schol­ars from across the globe.

When the chair in Jewish his­tory re­cently fell va­cant at Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don, nu­mer­ous applications were re­ceived from highly qual­i­fied schol­ars cur­rently hold­ing sig­nif­i­cant po­si­tions in Is­rael, USA and Europe.

Would they re­ally wish to move to a cen­tre of “moderate schol­ar­ship”?

It is like­wise facile and mis­lead­ing for Prof New­man to com­pare un­favourably the Jewish in­sti­tu­tions and schol­ars in Bri­tain with those in Is­rael and North Amer­ica, each of which has a Jewish pop­u­la­tion some twenty times that of this coun­try, let alone sub­stan­tially more re­sources.

De­spite their lesser num­ber of aca­demics and lower salaries, the Jewish in­sti­tu­tions at UK uni­ver­si­ties con­tinue to punch well above their weight on the world scene. Charles Cor­man charles.cor­man@dechert.com

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