“Re­mem­ber­ing the Holo­caust, Fight­ing An­tisemitism”

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - PHILANTHRO­PY - r ."":"/ )0''."/

Some 40 lead­ers of na­tions from Pres­i­dent Putin to Prince Charles will gather at Yad Vashem, the World Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Cen­ter, on 23 Jan­u­ary 2020 for an un­prece­dented event in Is­rael. The Fifth World Holo­caust Fo­rum takes place on the back­drop of the rise in an­tisemitism around the world mark­ing the 75th an­niver­sary to the lib­er­a­tion of Auschwitz-Birke­nau and In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Day. All eyes will be fo­cused on the mes­sages em­a­nat­ing from the World Holo­caust Fo­rum un­der the ban­ner “Re­mem­ber­ing the Holo­caust, Fight­ing An­tisemitism”, be­ing or­ga­nized by the World Holo­caust Fo­rum Foun­da­tion to­gether with Yad Vashem and the Pres­i­dent of the State of Is­rael.

“An­tisemitism con­tin­ues to ex­ist in a va­ri­ety of for­mats and lo­ca­tions around the world and no one seems to be able to pre­vent its pro­lif­er­a­tion,” stated Yad Vashem Chair­man Avner Shalev. “The lead­ers gath­er­ing at Yad Vashem all share a deep con­cern with what is hap­pen­ing around the world.”

Over the past weeks, the world has wit­nessed vi­o­lent and trou­bling an­ti­semitic at­tacks in var­i­ous coun­tries in­clud­ing France, Ger­many, Italy, the United King­dom and the United States. While these in­ci­dents do not rep­re­sent an in­crease or sig­nif­i­cant change from re­cent months, they do rep­re­sent the on­go­ing trend of hate crimes tar­get­ing Jews across much of the world.

“The ways in which an­tisemitism has per­sisted and pro­lif­er­ated since the Holo­caust must be iden­ti­fied, stud­ied and un­der­stood,” Shalev con­tin­ued. “We must all be alert to an­tisemitism’s cur­rent man­i­fes­ta­tions and re­main res­o­lute in com­bat­ting it where it ap­pears. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of all hu­man­ity, and es­pe­cially the lead­ers that will gather at Yad Vashem, to work to fight an­tisemitism, racism and xeno­pho­bia.”

An­tisemitism and Holo­caust dis­tor­tion and de­nial seem to go hand in hand. Over the same pe­riod of time that we’ve seen an in­crease in ex­pres­sions of an­tisemitism, we’ve also wit­nessed new na­tion­al­is­tic nar­ra­tives emerg­ing across much of Europe, in an at­tempt by au­thor­i­ties to dis­tort or di­lute the his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tive of the Holo­caust in their own coun­tries.

These phe­nom­ena are in­her­ently re­lated. As the Holo­caust is called into ques­tion, seg­ments of so­ci­ety are al­low­ing them­selves to once again re­visit age-old an­ti­semitic ca­nards and stereo­types.

Dr. Robert Rozett, Se­nior His­to­rian at Yad Vashem’s In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Holo­caust Re­search, ex­plained that while an­tisemitism did not dis­ap­pear with the end of World War II, it be­came “less po­lit­i­cally cor­rect in many seg­ments of so­ci­ety to have an­ti­semitic opin­ions out in the open.” However, around the be­gin­ning of the twenty-first cen­tury, the sit­u­a­tion started to change.

“Since then, an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing vi­o­lent ones, have come more and more to the sur­face,” Rozett con­tin­ued. “In the last two years, vi­o­lent an­tisemitism has even reached the United States, con­sid­ered to be one of the most tol­er­ant democ­ra­cies in the world.” In fact, re­cent sur­veys in the United States and Europe have doc­u­mented that long­stand­ing an­ti­semitic tropes are alive and well.

Yad Vashem has long un­der­stood the need to ed­u­cate about the Holo­caust and the his­tory of an­tisemitism. To­day, as the de­fin­i­tive source for Holo­caust re­mem­brance, doc­u­men­ta­tion, re­search and ed­u­ca­tion, Yad Vashem is work­ing tire­lessly not only to en­sure that the mem­ory and mean­ings of the Holo­caust con­tinue to be rel­e­vant, but also to use its com­pre­hen­sive knowl­edge and care­fully de­vel­oped ed­u­ca­tional tools to fight con­tem­po­rary forms of an­tisemitism.

“As the In­ter­net, fol­lowed by so­cial me­dia, be­came more and more pop­u­lar, they be­came ve­hi­cles for spread­ing an­ti­semitic sen­ti­ment to the masses,” said Rozett. “Peo­ple can spread hate speech rapidly and to a vast au­di­ence via these ve­hi­cles, and so far, there is lit­tle to no over­sight reg­u­lat­ing the spread of this ma­te­rial.”

It be­came clear to Yad Vashem – and to many of its col­leagues around the world – Rozett ar­gued, that the strug­gle against an­tisemitism re­quires a “tool­box” ap­proach, tack­ling an­tisemitism from mul­ti­ple an­gles: le­gal re­course, more rig­or­ous polic­ing of the

We see ed­u­ca­tion as the long-term and per­haps most pro­found tool in our bat­tle against mod­ern-day an­tisemitism

In­ter­net and so­cial me­dia, build­ing bridges be­tween re­li­gious groups and, of course, ed­u­ca­tion.

“We see ed­u­ca­tion as the long-term and per­haps most pro­found tool in our bat­tle against mod­ern-day an­tisemitism,” he noted, “and we be­lieve it is in this area that we can be most ef­fec­tive.”

As such, Yad Vashem has de­vel­oped new cour­ses, work­shops and on­line con­tent that can as­sist teach­ers, opinion-mak­ers, the me­dia, re­searchers, re­li­gious groups and even politi­cians and diplo­mats in how to han­dle the rise in an­tisemitism in their own so­ci­eties.

One of the tools de­vel­oped by Yad Vashem in re­cent years is a MOOC (Mas­sive On­line Open Course) tack­ling his­toric and con­tem­po­rary an­tisemitism. The six-part course, en­ti­tled “An­tisemitism: From its Ori­gins to the Present,” show­cases 50 schol­ars from all over the world who ex­plain the his­tory, de­vel­op­ment and new forms of this old­est ha­tred, em­pha­siz­ing the com­mon themes that may be eas­ily iden­ti­fied in an­ti­semitic ex­pres­sions to­day. So far, some 15,000 peo­ple have en­rolled in the course, which is of­fered on both the UK Fu­tureLearn and US Cours­era ed­u­ca­tional on­line plat­forms.

Of course, ev­ery coun­try has its own par­tic­u­lar his­to­ries, and con­se­quently its own par­tic­u­lar sen­si­tiv­i­ties and needs. To­gether with lo­cal ed­u­ca­tors and com­mu­nity lead­ers, Yad Vashem So­ci­eties world­wide have played a cru­cial role in iden­ti­fy­ing these needs and com­mu­ni­cat­ing them back to Jerusalem, where ex­perts at Yad Vashem’s In­ter­na­tional School for Holo­caust Stud­ies have been work­ing hard to de­velop cour­ses and pro­grams aimed at clearly iden­ti­fy­ing and ex­pos­ing an­ti­semitic ex­pres­sions around the world.

To this end, Yad Vashem re­cently de­vel­oped a work­shop for ed­u­ca­tors about con­tem­po­rary an­tisemitism as part of their tailor-made sem­i­nars for teach­ers world­wide, which al­lows ed­u­ca­tors to eas­ily iden­tify dan­ger­ous stereo­types and the “lan­guage of hate” as trig­gers for dis­cus­sion.

Dr. Noa Mkay­ton, Deputy Di­rec­tor of the Euro­pean De­part­ment at Yad Vashem’s In­ter­na­tional School for Holo­caust Stud­ies, helped de­vel­oped this work­shop. She ex­plained that while Yad Vashem is care­ful to avoid en­ter­ing into po­lit­i­cal de­bates, “due to the com­plex­ity and con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the topic, we re­al­ize that we must tackle con­tem­po­rary an­tisemitism in or­der to help teach­ers iden­tify and con­front it in their class­rooms.” Mkay­ton noted that in or­der to make this topic more rel­e­vant, she uses ex­am­ples par­tic­u­lar to the ge­o­graphic lo­ca­tion of the spe­cific ed­u­ca­tors.

“When teach­ers are con­fronted with what they fear is an­tisemitism, they feel lost and help­less,” she con­tin­ued. “But it doesn’t have to be this way. Yad Vashem of­fers spe­cial tools and tech­niques to help teach­ers de­fine and ad­dress an­tisemitism. Through this ‘tool­box’ ap­proach, we have now clear cri­te­ria for what is con­sid­ered an­tisemitism. We are now sen­si­tive to the type of lan­guage that draws on tra­di­tional an­ti­semitic tropes de­vel­oped and used for thou­sands of years – and can de­clare that these state­ments are indeed an­ti­semitic”.

Ed­u­ca­tion to­day is not re­stricted to the class­room, but oc­curs more and more on­line. Yad Vashem’s web­sites in eight lan­guages and its ac­tive so­cial me­dia pres­ence are all in­valu­able as­sets to teach­ers in Is­rael and abroad. This is a way for grad­u­ates of its sem­i­nars to re­main up-to-date on new re­search in the field.

Aside from the dozens of in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tional sem­i­nars Yad Vashem holds each year, Yad Vashem con­tin­ues to ad­vise pol­icy-mak­ers on the de­vel­op­ment of cur­ric­ula for their in­di­vid­ual coun­try’s Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Un­der­stand­ing that Holo­caust aware­ness is es­sen­tial for our war on an­tisemitism, Yad Vashem has ac­quired the knowl­edge and rep­u­ta­tion as be­ing ex­perts on the sub­ject. As such we are sought af­ter to teach the teach­ers and pro­vide tools to en­sure ac­cu­rate and mean­ing­ful Holo­caust stud­ies are be­ing taught around the world,” said Richelle Budd Ca­plan, In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Di­rec­tor at the In­ter­na­tional School for Holo­caust Stud­ies.

Yad Vashem’s ed­u­ca­tional in­flu­ence is not re­stricted to ac­tiv­i­ties in the In­ter­na­tional School for Holo­caust Stud­ies. In 2005, Yad Vashem ex­panded its role in the North American ed­u­ca­tional sphere with the cre­ation of the “Echoes & Re­flec­tions” mul­ti­me­dia pro­gram, to­gether with part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tions, the ADL and the USC Shoah Foun­da­tion. This flag­ship pro­gram geared es­pe­cially for US ed­u­ca­tors, aims at em­pow­er­ing US mid­dle- and high-school ed­u­ca­tors with dy­namic ma­te­ri­als and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment to con­fi­dently teach about the Holo­caust. In ad­di­tion to nine other com­pre­hen­sive units, “Echoes & Re­flec­tions” con­tains in­sight­ful con­tent on both his­toric and con­tem­po­rary an­tisemitism.

Sh­eryl Ochayon, “Echoes & Re­flec­tions” Pro­gram Di­rec­tor, ex­plained that “it is very im­por­tant to­day for teach­ers in the United States to have a game plan: How should you re­act when you find a swastika daubed on a school or com­mu­nity cen­ter wall? What hap­pens when graves are knocked down in your com­mu­nity? ‘Echoes & Re­flec­tions’ helps teach­ers iden­tify an­ti­semitic acts and con­sider practical steps in the event of such an in­ci­dent.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, the pro­gram pro­vides teach­ers with ma­te­ri­als that en­cour­age youth not to be by­standers in the face of an­tisemitism.

“Our ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams place a great em­pha­sis on re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Ochayon said. “We want to in­spire and sup­port stu­dents to take ac­tion in the face of racism and xeno­pho­bia. We teach and en­cour­age pupils to make the choice to step up and speak out against an­tisemitism.”

Fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ences ex­ist be­tween the state-spon­sored and en­dorsed an­tisemitism of preHolo­caust years to the an­tisemitism and vi­o­lent at­tacks be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced to­day.

Yet, smaller acts of vi­o­lence can, if left unchecked lead to large acts. Hate­ful words lead to in­cite­ment, which can cause larger vi­o­lent ac­tions. The mes­sage from Yad Vashem is that the world must stand up and take no­tice be­fore that is al­lowed to hap­pen.

We teach and en­cour­age pupils to make the choice to step up and speak out against an­tisemitism

(Cour­tesy of Yad Vashem)

TEACH­ERS PAR­TIC­I­PAT­ING in an an­tisemitism work­shop as part of an ed­u­ca­tional sem­i­nar at Yad Vashem’s In­ter­na­tional School for Holo­caust Stud­ies

(Cour­tesy of Yad Vashem)

Chair­man Avner Shalev speak­ing at a sym­po­sium on an­tisemitism jointly or­ga­nized by Yad Vashem and the Cen­ter Or­ga­ni­za­tions of Holo­caust Sur­vivors in Is­rael

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.