I mentioned once that one of my scholarly ambitions was to do work at YIISA, so I'm obviously disappointed it is closing. That being said, I'm inclined to accept Yale's explanation for not renewing the program. As I wrote over at Engage:
I’m not happy that YIISA is closing — I was very much an admirer of their project, and in particular I thought David Hirsh produced some stellar work for them. But I, too, recall being surprised at how little published scholarship was coming out of the institution. It seemed to be punching academically well beneath its weight, and I can’t be too surprised it isn’t being renewed as a result.
Is there a solid claim that the inability of scholars of anti-Semitism to place their work in top journals is in part a function of academic norms whereby anti-Semitism isn’t seen as a “real” topic worthy of study? Yes, perhaps. But I don’t think this is the whole story. For one, we’ve definitely seen a fair number of scholarly monographs being published on the topic, giving an opportunity to bypass perhaps biased journal editors. For two, Hirsh’s great work notwithstanding, a lot of the published academic work on anti-Semitism I have read has not been particularly impressive in quality. Reading the contents of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism, I haven’t been blown away by many of the pieces, or wondered why the pieces haven’t been placed in more reputed journals.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of the scholarship I've read in this field has not been of particularly high quality. Professor Hirsh is a notable exception, and his article Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections is simply magnificent. But when I had browsed YIISA site I had found myself seriously disappointed in their overall product. And ultimately, Yale isn't going to keep funding a center that isn't world-class. It's up to those of us who do work in this field to start producing good work, and get ourselves noticed for the quality of our scholarship.