Whose Fault Is Antisemitism?

While the Holocaust may be over, antisemitism is still very much alive. So, whose fault is it? And how do we address it? The sad truth is that antisemitism has always been spread by offenders across the ideological spectrum. That’s why it is key to focus on fighting antisemitic ideas and not get hung up on the identities of whoever is perpetuating them. When we learn to rebuke anti-Jewish bigotry no matter who spreads it, we will be one step closer to defeating it.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. Who coined the term antisemitism?
    • Wilhelm Marr
    • Adolf Hitler
    • Martin Luther
    • Karl Marx
  2. Who said “What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering,” and “What is his worldly God? Money.”
    • Adolf Hitler
    • Karl Marx
    • Pope John Paul II
    • Yasser Arafat
  3. Which of the following have Jews been accused of?
    • Too religious
    • Too closed off and clannish
    • Too worldly and widespread
    • All of the above
  4. True or false? Some communities are immune to antisemitism:
    • True
    • False
  5. Which Jewish holiday story has an example of antisemitism that seems like it could be written today?
    • Rosh Hashanah
    • Sukkot
    • Purim
    • Pesach
  1. Why do you think that antisemitism exists among so many different communities regardless of their political affiliation, religion or ethnic background?
  2. Jews are the world’s oldest minority and have refused to conform to the majority culture surrounding them for thousands of years. What are two benefits and two challenges for the Jewish people in refusing to conform?
  3. In the biblical book of Esther, the villain Haman tells the King, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them.” This 2,000-year-old expression of antisemitism could have been written in modern times as well. At which other moments in Jewish history did sentiments like this one arise?
  4. Why do you think humans have difficulty tolerating differences in other people? What can we do to encourage people to not only tolerate but embrace differences among different communities?
  5. Why is it more important to focus on the antisemitic ideas expressed rather than the individuals expressing them? What are the implications of focusing on the individuals expressing them rather than the ideas themselves?
  1. Watch this video of Bernie Sanders responding to an antisemitic questioner. When showing the video, pause the video after the question is asked. Ask the learner to write up a one paragraph response to the antisemitic questioner and share it with your fellow students. Afterwards, watch how Bernie Sanders responded to the question and discuss his response.
  2. Watch our video about the origin of antisemitic conspiracy theories and ask your students to complete a video report on the content presented.
  3. Play our Kahoot about “Whose Fault Is Antisemitism?”
  1. Where do you have the power to make change? Among your friends or among your enemies? In your community or in someone else’s? How does this connect to antisemitism and other prejudices emanating from various communities?
  2. When you think of antisemites, does a specific group of people come to mind? If so, why do you think that specific group comes to mind and not another who also practices antisemitism?
  3. Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibovitz has said that “antisemitism is not a Jewish problem, but a non-Jewish problem.” Jot down your thoughts and discuss with a peer whether you agree or disagree with this statement.

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