Scientific work

In cooperation with the relevant teaching staff and students at the FU Berlin and external partners, we would like to publish specialist articles on various aspects of Judaism and Israel. as well as new findings in anti-Semitism research. The articles are written by academics and experts and deal with history, religion, culture, and society.

The Conflict between Antisemitism and Academic Freedom at German 

Master's thesis by Jahne Vincent Nicolaisen, 2023

Against a general-abstract understanding, the specific academic antisemitism is to be determined, which adapts itself as an ideology to the academic field: Thus, academic freedom as a defensive individual right and the academic form is claimed, while antisemitic resentment and hostility towards science are revealed. The threat to academic freedom can be understood from its irrational, antagonistic and divisive logic. For it goes hand in hand with perpetrator-victim reversals, denials and other social defence acts that make antisemitism criticism difficult and imagine a conspiratorial 'Jewish' enemy that suppresses 'criticism'. 

Those who act antisemitically benefit from an organisational-cultural neutrality in German universities, which rarely follows sanctions - if they name the problem at all. This is because the institutional self-regulation and its ideal of academic freedom fail because of a systemically reproduced anti-Semitism and a mirror-image self-idealisation: the mostly liberal theories (here: Elif Özmen) of academic freedom are based on the dualisms scientific/unscientific and scientific/ideological, with which the ideological is blanked out. While Özmen relies on the triad of the rule of law, democratic society and academic self-regulation, she does not draw any conclusions from her experience that most professors remain silent when "incidents" occur. In her rationalism of purpose, pragmatism and formalism, Özmen blinds herself to the real unreasonable society that systemically reproduces pathic-projective structures of need, corresponding patterns of interpretation and structural regimes of fear associated with everyday violence. 

For Jews, universities belong to those regimes, since in the academic milieu, with the "progressive" ticket based on certain rigid group identities worthy of protection, the power of resistance against any form of antisemitism (esp. Israel-related) dwindles. Indirectly, core humanist missions of the academy (A. Rosenfeld) and its structural principles (R. K. Merton) can prevent worse. However, critical theory would be sceptical, as those humane missions and principles would be mocked in antisemitism as an 'ontology of advertising' (Adorno). Even more, the 'limits of enlightenment' are in the freedom of science itself: Under formal legal freedom, the antisemitic delusion can 'freely' express and reproduce itself in scientific opinions - this is the 'antagonism in free scientific opinion' (following Adorno). A critical theory aims at an antinomian moral critique under the conditions of the prevailing general, which directs any ethics abstracting socially and from rational ends to bad infinity. The formal freedom to do science requires mature subjects who unfold it in conscious social negativity and support those who are persecuted. Last but not least, they would oppose instrumentalising practical instructions and stand up for the primacy of the object to be recognised, from which no disagreeable phenomena are to be subjectively warded off.

Master's thesis by Jahne Vincent Nicolaisen
The Conflict between Antisemitism and Academic Freedom at German Universities
Nicolaisen_Masterarbeit_öffentlich.pdf (1.12MB)
Master's thesis by Jahne Vincent Nicolaisen
The Conflict between Antisemitism and Academic Freedom at German Universities
Nicolaisen_Masterarbeit_öffentlich.pdf (1.12MB)
» Presentation of the Master's thesis at the conference on May 2, 2024

1948: The first Arab-Israeli war


Arab-Palestinian society, and ultimately, the birth of the State of Israel. The focus is on the immediate reaction to the state's founding: the pan-Arab war of aggression. Morris' meticulous analysis of the Israeli and international archives, accessible since the 1980s, provides a clear, documentary view of the often mythologized history of the 1948 war and its political and military actors. This book, published for the first time in German, thus provides much-needed historical clarification to counter the debates about Israel and Palestine, Zionism, and expulsion, full of resentment and forgetfulness of history.

» Book launch online


Israel-related anti-semitism

What exactly is Israel-related anti-semitism, and how can it be distinguished from non-antisemitic statements about Israel? What is its history and historical antecedents, and how does the phenomenon manifest itself in the present?
In his specialist article "Israel-related anti-Semitism" for the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), Lars Rensmann sheds light on this phenomenon's various forms, history and empirical findings.

Lars Rensmann is Professor of European Politics and Society at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen/Netherlands and heads the Center for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics there.