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This content is taken from the Yad Vashem's online course, Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second This week we began our historical exploration of the roots of antisemitism. We saw that there is an ongoing scholarly debate regarding whether the Greco-Roman world’s hostility to Jews can be classified as antisemitism or not. We saw how some view these negative perceptions to be another expression of xenophobia, while others see them as a uniquely anti-Jewish form of hostility. Be the answer as it may, it is clear that much of the anti-Jewish rhetoric that developed in this world was later incorporated into the vehement anti-Jewish feelings and attitudes that emerged following the advent of Christianity. The emergence of Christianity 2,000 years ago brought with it an important turning point in the history of antisemitism.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds Christianity imbued the hostility toward Jews with a religious and theological foundation, placing the Jews in the position of the ultimate “other.” Following the conversion of the Roman Empire, attitudes toward Jews and Judaism became increasingly hostile and violent, reaching their apex in the Middle Ages, when an image of the Jews was created that saw them as the antithesis of all that was true and good; the devil incarnate, an entity that could only be redeemed by acknowledging Christianity. This brought about the expulsion of Jews from many regions in Western Europe, the formulation of a variety of anti-Jewish allegations, including the Blood Libels, and eruptions of extreme violence and murder.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds Next week we will continue with our examination of the development of antisemitism, moving on to the Modern Era. As we will see, it is during this period of secularism, Enlightenment, science, rationalism, and nationalism that new perceptions of the Jews once again arise, bringing about the formulation of modern forms of antisemitism.

Conclusion and looking ahead to week 2

Well done on completing week 1 of “Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present”.

Based on what we’ve learned in this week:

Explain briefly in what way antisemitism differs from other forms of hate


Explain briefly the early origins of antisemitism in Christian theology

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

Yad Vashem

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