Skip to 0 minutes and 28 seconds Hello and welcome to the fourth week of our course “Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present.” Over the past three weeks we have learned about the historical roots of antisemitism, tracing its development over nearly two millennia. We saw how perceptions and attitudes towards the Jews developed throughout different periods, societies, countries, and schools of thought. Though these views were complex and multilayered, more often than not, Western societies saw the Jews as the ultimate other. Based in a Christian doctrine that developed mainly in the Middle Ages, an image of the Jews was created, which saw them as the antithesis of all that was true and good; Jews were the devil incarnate an entity that could only be redeemed by acknowledging Christianity.
Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds During modern times, when rapid and major social changes took place, and ideologies and theories such as nationalism, socialism, and racism rose, a new image of the Jew developed. This image, which was largely rooted and built upon the earlier Christian one, depicts the Jews as the ultimate danger, an irredeemable force conspiring to destroy humanity and to ultimately rule it. This view of the Jews would eventually lead, in its most extreme form, to the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. Last week’s lesson dealt with the development of antisemitism from the First World War to the immediate post- Holocaust years.
Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds We showed how many had expected antisemitism to disappear once the knowledge of the atrocities of the Holocaust and the understanding of what antisemitism could lead to became clear. However, as we saw, antisemitism continued to persist following 1945. The following three weeks of the course will be dedicated to examining the way in which antisemitism has developed and been expressed in the decades following the Holocaust, all the way through our times. As we will see, traditional antisemitic tropes, such as blood libels and modern ones, such as conspiracy myths, have continued to exist and have once again been adapted and changed in response to the major occurrences and events of the times.
Skip to 2 minutes and 35 seconds We will examine how new forms of antisemitism have developed after the Holocaust, concentrating on two of its most dominant expressions - Holocaust denial and distortion, and anti-Zionism. This week’s lesson will focus mainly on Europe and will also touch upon the United States, 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. Though we will be focusing on these areas, it is important to note that the forms of antisemitism which will be discussed can be found in other regions as well - such as Latin America, and in parts of Asia Africa and Australia.
Skip to 3 minutes and 17 seconds As we have seen on the eve of the Second World War, many in the European continent had lost faith in the power of democracy, and radical movements from both the political Left and Right were gradually gaining power. Thus, Communism took hold in the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, and in West and Central Europe, Populism, Nationalism, and Fascism became the dominant and leading forces in many countries. In the years following the Second World War, the world was plunged into a Cold War, an open yet restricted rivalry that developed between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies that continued until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Skip to 3 minutes and 59 seconds This geopolitical tension dominated international affairs for decades and led to many major crises. Among other outcomes, it divided Europe and the world into two main blocks - a Soviet Communist one, and a democratic-capitalist one. The tension and power game of the Cold War had a major effect on the development of contemporary antisemitism. The evolution of contemporary antisemitism was affected by additional historical developments. One such major development were the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and the events in the Middle East surrounding it, both before and after 1948. It is important to point out when dealing with post-Holocaust antisemitism, that even though this phenomenon continues to persist, there has been a general recoiling from it in the West.
Skip to 4 minutes and 51 seconds Following the Holocaust, open antisemitism became taboo in the West and was pushed to the margins of society, together with Far-right and Far-left parties and movements. However, various developments taking place particularly in the beginning of the 21st century have led to a penetration of more radical voices into the mainstream.
Far-right, Far-left, Holocaust Denial and Anti-Zionism
What has happened to antisemitism since the end of the Holocaust? How is it expressed today and where can it be found?
For a full list of the scholars participating in this week please see “downloads” below.
Please note that the videos in the course include subtitles in the following languages: English, French and Spanish.
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