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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

Join 50 leading scholars in exploring antisemitism, from its roots to its contemporary forms.

25,967 enrolled on this course

Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

Trace the history of antisemitism - from antiquity to the present

In this course, 50 leading scholars from all over the world will explore questions and issues relating to antisemitism including: what is antisemitism? How has it changed throughout history? Why can it be found among so many diverse cultures, and even among opposing ideologies? What happened to antisemitism after the Holocaust? How is antisemitism expressed today, and what are the main spheres in which it can be found?

We will examine different periods and societies, exploring the development of antisemitism as well as its changing nature over time, place and culture.

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Syllabus

  • Week 1

    What is Antisemitism? Definitions and Origins

    • Welcome to the course

      In the following activity we will begin our exploration of antisemitism. We will discuss the course's aims and structure, as well as ask you to introduce yourself and to expand on what attracted you to this topic.

    • Hate and antisemitism

      Why do people hate? Does antisemitism have unique characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of hate? In this activity we will address these and other questions relating to the nature of hate and antisemitism.

    • The term "antisemitism"

      What are the origins of the term "antisemitism"? In this activity we will discuss the problems associated with this term and examine its utility when researching the history of Jew-hatred.

    • Who are the Jews?

      Before exploring antisemitism, let's turn to better acquaint ourselves with this hatred's targets - who are the Jews?

    • The historical roots of antisemitism

      Where can the roots of antisemitism be found? In this activity we begin our historical exploration of the development of antisemitism, focusing on antiquity and on early Christianity.

    • Anti-Judaism

      In this activity we will explore the term "anti-Judaism," understanding its characteristics and the major place it holds in western tradition.

    • Antisemitism and the Middle Ages

      It was during the Middle Ages that many of the antisemitic stereotypes and perceptions still familiar to us today were formulated and extreme violence targeting Jews began to rise. What brought these developments about?

    • Week 1 Conclusion

      What have we learned this week and what can we expect from the following one?

  • Week 2

    The Changing Face of Antisemitism

    • Welcome to week 2

      This week we will move on to the Modern Era, examining how attitudes towards the Jews were affected by the major religious, social, and political movements that were shaping Europe and the world during this time.

    • The Early Modern Period

      In this activity we will begin our exploration of the development of antisemitism during the Modern Period by focusing on the 16th to 18th centuries and on the major occurrences and processes taking place at the time.

    • Modern forms of antisemitism

      The late 18th to early 20th centuries brought with them major religious, social, and political changes that would greatly affect the rise and formulaiton of new forms of antisemitism.

    • Modern antisemitism: the case of Germany

      In this activity we will focus on Germany, examining how the revolutionary changes of this time period, along with the specific circumstances of this area, affected the way its Jews were treated and perceived.

    • Modern antisemitism: the case of France

      In this activity we will focus on France, examining how the revolutionary changes of this time period, along with the specific circumstances of this area, affected the way its Jews were treated and perceived.

    • Modern antisemitism: the case of the Russian Empire

      In this activity we will focus on the Russian Empire, examining how the revolutionary changes of this time period, along with the specific circumstances of this area, affected the way its Jews were treated and perceived.

    • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

      The Protocols of the Elders of Zion have become one of the most widely distributed antisemitic publications of modern times. What is this text and what are its origins?

    • The emergence of Zionism

      The late 19th century also brought with the emergence of the Zionist movement. What is this movement and why did it emerge when it did?

    • Week 2 Conclusion

      What have we learned this week and what can we expect from the following one?

  • Week 3

    Genocidal Antisemitism: From World War I to the Holocaust

    • Welcome to week 3

      This week we will delve into the 20th century and see how modern antisemitic notions and perceptions continued to develop and to be expressed, reaching a murderous peak with the catastrophic event of the Holocaust

    • World War I

      How did the tumultuous and violent years of the First World War and its aftermath affect the development of antisemitism? This activity will address this and other question relating to these years.

    • The Russian Revolution and the Civil War pogroms

      The Russian Revolution is a defining watershed of the 20th century. How did this event and the Civil War that followed it affect the way Jews were treated and perceived?

    • The interwar years

      Europe was completely restructured following WWI and new forces were gaining strength throughout the continent. Who were these new forces and how did their emergence influence the way Jews were perceived and treated?

    • Nazi ideology and Hitler's rise to power

      The intensification of antisemitism in the interwar period reached a peak with the rise of Nazism in Germany and with the formulation of the Nazi ideology. What place did antisemitism hold in this worldview?

    • The Holocaust

      The ever worsening anti-Jewish policies formulated by the Nazis, culminated in the decision to actively exterminate the Jews. What was the Holocaust and how did it evolve?

    • Antisemitism after the war

      Following the Holocaust, many had expected antisemitism to become significantly reduced if not completely eliminated in the post-Holocaust era. What happened to antisemitism after the Holocaust?

    • Week 3 Conclusion

      What have we learned this week and what can we expect from the following one?

  • Week 4

    Contemporary Antisemitism

    • Welcome to week 4

      This week we will turn to the contemporary world by first examining how antisemitism is expressed by two of the main realms in which it can be found today - the Far-right and the Far-left

    • Antisemitism in the Far-right

      What place does antisemitism hold in the Far-right today?

    • Holocaust denial and distortion

      One of the main expressions of contemporary antisemitism is Holocaust denial and distortion. How are these expressed? What forms do they take? Why are they defined as antisemitism?

    • Antisemitism in the Far-left

      What place does antisemitism hold in the Far-left today?

    • Anti-Zionism and Holocaust Denial and Distortion

      The misuse of the Holocaust in anti-Israeli anti-Zionist rhetoric

    • The Yellow Vests Movement

      How is antisemitism expressed by certain fringe groups in the Yellow Vests Movement?

    • Week 4 Conclusion

      What have we learned this week and what can we expect from the following one?

  • Week 5

    The Islamic and Arab World

    • Welcome to week 5

      This week we will continue with our exploration of antisemitism in the contemporary world, by focusing on the past and present of a realm which has not been discussed in the course so far - the Arab and Islamic world.

    • The early years

      What were the dynamics between Muslims and Jews in the early days of Islam?

    • The place of the Jews under Islam

      Under the successors of the Prophet Muhammad, the Islamic religion spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. How were Jews treated and perceived in these territories?

    • The development of antisemitism

      The 19th century brought with it major changes to the Arab and Islamic world. How did these affect the treatment and perceptions of the Jews?

    • Escalation and radicalization

      The first half of the 20th century brought with it a radicalization in antisemitc rhetoric and acts in this sphere. What brought this about and who were the major figures behind it?

    • The development of Islamism

      From the second half of the 20th century, Islamism has become the main bearer of harsh antisemitic rhetoric and actions, and antisemitism has become a major component in the Islamist worldview. What is Islamism?

    • Contemporary Islamism

      Who are targets of Islamism today and what place does antisemitism hold in their contemporary worldview?

    • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

      Similar to the Christian world, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion have become one the most widely distributed antisemitic texts in the Arab and Islamic sphere. When did this text arrive in this sphere and what role does it play?

    • Responses to the Holocaust in the Islamic and Arab world

      Another dominant theme in the evolution of antisemitism in the Arab and Islamic world is the increasing preoccupation with the Holocaust. How is the Holocaust perceived in this sphere and why?

    • Antisemitism in the media

      How are Jews and Israel portrayed in the media of the media of the Arab and Islamic world today?

    • The case of Iran

      In the following activity we will explore the ways in which antisemitism is expressed in Iran today, a country where antisemitism is granted the status of a semi-official state policy.

    • Week 5 Conclusion

      What have we learned this week and what can we expect from the following one?

  • Week 6

    Addressing Antisemitism

    • Welcome to week 6

      During this last week of the course, we will try to better our understanding of contemporary antisemitism. We will also explore online hate, and examine the ways antisemitism is confronted and dealt with in various arenas today.

    • Identifing antisemitism

      In the following activity we will continue exploring the ways in which antisemitism is expressed today, focusing on its more blurred forms, and asking ourselves what should and should not be defined as "antisemitic."

    • Conspiracy theories

      As we have seen throughout the course, conspiracy theories have always held a major place in antisemitic discourse and actions. What place do conspiracy theories hold in the way antisemitism is expressed today?

    • Online hate

      The Internet and social media have become major hotbeds for the spread and dissemination of various forms of hate and antisemitism. Why has this content become so widespread in this sphere and what can be done about it?

    • Addressing antisemitism

      In this activity we will examine the ways in which antisemitism is confronted and dealt with in various arenas today.

    • Prospects for the future

      Before we complete our course, let us ask ourselves if antisemitism and other forms of hate can be eradicated, and if so, how.

    • Week 6 and Course Conclusion

      What have we learned throughout this course and where next from here?

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Discuss what antisemitism is and what is unique about it
  • Identify antisemitic language and actions in the past and in the present
  • Explain the historical and ideological roots of antisemitism and how it has developed
  • Identify different types of antisemitism presented in the course and explain the differences, commonalities and dynamics between them
  • Discuss the characteristics of antisemitism today
  • Distinguish between antisemitism and legitimate criticism of the State of Israel

Who is the course for?

This course, designed by Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, is for anyone with an interest in history, in social dynamics and human nature, and in the phenomenon of antisemitism.

Who will you learn with?

Yossi Kugler is a PHD candidate at Tel-Aviv University. He is a project manager, content developer and educator at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies

Dafna Dolinko completed her graduate studies in Jewish History. She is a content developer and educator at the E-Learning Department at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies

Dmitry Kolotilenko completed his graduate studies in History. He is a content developer and educator at the E-Learning Department at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies

Who developed the course?

Yad Vashem

As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations.

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