This activity is designed to help students think more deeply about what it means to be an outsider. Using quotations from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Voices on Antisemitism series, students portray their thoughts and feelings about a quotation through photographs selected from the Museum’s Photo Archive database. Some preselected quotations are provided below, but students may choose their own from the episodes on this theme.
After selecting photos, students will write an essay explaining their selections. The essay can examine some of the following questions:
How does what this person discusses in the present relate back to the Holocaust?
- What about the photos you chose demonstrates this?
Do the photos that you chose represent abstract feelings, concrete events, or a combination of the two?
- If you are matching images with emotions evoked from some of the quotations, whose emotions are you using? Your own? The victims or perpetrators? What emotions do you think the interviewee feels?
Have you interpreted something in a way that another person may interpret differently?
- Is such interpretation subjective or objective? Explain your response.
- Is it difficult to put images to words, especially someone else’s words?
Students then create a PowerPoint presentation of the quotations and photos together. See an example of such a PowerPoint using Michael Chabon’s Voices on Antisemitism episode
“I get to know Jewish people in terms of friendship. When I come to the United States, I came with my dad who had the condition of kidney failure, and I was supposed to be his donor. And his kidney doctor was a Jewish doctor. Him and my father become very close. And the surgeon doctor was an Egyptian doctor. And therefore [my father] saw there before his eyes the interfaith connection.”
“…I realized that the role of the imam in America, it takes more than just leading prayer. Personally, I fell that now the imam has become like multi-task individuals, from talking to government officials, to interfaith work, reaching out to your fellow colleagues. It’s very interesting, your colleagues in America, they are not fellow imams who are around you—like, the next mosque about 30 minutes. The closest place to me now is the synagogue and the church. And therefore, my colleagues become the rabbi and the Lutheran pastor, those are my colleagues.”
“…I really get upset when somebody appoint themselves as the preacher or teacher in Internet, for example, and he or she teach hate, you know, bigotry or antisemitism. Because when you are clergy, you really become responsible for people’s souls. And misleading them, misguiding them, and teaching them a teaching that contradicts the principles of any religion—which is respect, understanding, mercy, compassion—it’s really bearing false witness to your own religion.”
“Every time you take a stand, some people have websites against you, some people call you ‘a sell-out,’ somebody call you ‘you’re not real Muslims.' We are hidden Jews or something like that. But you have to be firm in your position, because history is not kind to people who were silent when they see wrong things have taken place.”
“… the twenty-first century is going to be about a battle between pluralism and totalitarianism. A battle between the idea that there is only one legitimate way of being, believing, and belonging on earth, and every other way needs to be destroyed—which is the idea of totalitarianism—and the idea of pluralism, which is that people belonging to different communities and believing in different creeds need to somehow learn to live with one another in mutual peace and loyalty.”
“There’s a question about: Are there religious forces that divide, versus religious forces that unite, and which is stronger? Those forces are people. People divide or people unite. And we have very powerful dividers out there.”
“The question that we have to ask today is not whether this abstract amorphous thing called “religion” naturally divides or naturally unites. Religion does nothing. Religious people do things with religion. And I believe that there are prodigious resources in religious traditions for people to unite.”
“… there is a segment of the Muslim community today that has been infected with a form of antisemitism. It is ugly and I hate it, but it’s true... And we’re saying, “That is un-Islamic. That is the most un-Islamic thing that you can do—to hate another people or to think badly of another peoples’ religion, based on a political conflict, because our prophet—May the peace and blessings of God be upon him—never did that.””
“But, the propensity of certain figures to take that group of antisemitic Muslims and to paint the entire Muslim world with that brush, and go even further than that and write contemporary antisemitism into the history and sources of Islam, I find deeply offensive. … it is hugely counterproductive… who does it benefit to say that 1.4 billion people on earth are inherently hateful?... Once you have labeled 1.4 billion people hateful, what are you going to do? Put them all into camps? Vanquish them all? Convert them all…Who is going to win in this?”
“It seems to me that one of the messages conveyed by Jesus was the issue of basic human rights. And John Paul II said that if you truly believe in Christ you must stand up for basic human dignity and basic human rights.”
“On one level it is absolutely true to say that Nazism was an altogether pagan phenomenon, and in a sense was fundamentally anti-religious across the board. However, I think Hitler very very much depended on the use of this classical Christian antisemitism as a great asset in rallying the popular masses towards support of his ideology.”
“There is an unwillingness to acknowledge that the Church as an institution played a significant role in the promotion of antisemitism. There’s the claim by some in Christianity that, “Yes there were a few bad apples who did collaborate with the Nazis or who promoted antisemitism over the centuries, but they were kind of led astray.” Well, but who led them astray?”
“And I think any religious tradition that continues to harbor within itself seeds of violence and seeds of discrimination against other people simply mutes any credible moral influence that it may have.”
“There cannot be peace in the world without peace among the world’s religions, so the protection of the human rights and human dignity of another is also in many ways the protection and guarantee of our own human rights and our own human dignity.”
“We have to reach out, we have to get to know each other, we have to relate to each other and learn from each other. And anything I can do to open people’s eyes to the possibilities of what could happen when we are in dialog with each other and when we can sing together and celebrate together and struggle together, I will do.”
“I remember this one boy—this will always stay with me. He’s big and brawny. And he was a poet—I knew him well, because he was in my creative writing class—a real gentle, poetic soul. And the kids were talking about appearance, and how people judge sometimes by appearance and don’t take the time to get to know you. And he—it was so poignant what he said—he said, ‘You know, when I walk down the street, people cross the street to get away from me.’ And he said that has such a profound effect on his identity and feeling so isolated and alone in the world.”
“I arranged a trip for them…to the Holocaust Museum….But the way that I focused on it with them is identity, and what parts of your identity can you never lose, and which parts of your identity someone can take away from you. And what do you do with what’s left, after loss? Because these kids have tons of loss...lots of shooting deaths, people who become drug addicts. They lose a lot of people in their lives, and they lose a lot of identity pieces in their lives. So we talked about this, you know, what is your core identity? What can people not take away from you?”
“…Every organization has a process of socializing individuals into its organization—whether it’s IBM or the military. What for me is important is understanding that those processes can be a very positive thing for creating identity and for creating shared purpose. However, the study of the Holocaust also demonstrates that those very same processes can be perverted and used to change an organization and drive it in a different direction as well.”
“To be a Catholic who’s looking at the Holocaust I think is also important, because this is an issue that is bigger than one faith. It certainly impacts the members of the Jewish faith in a very real and personal way. But I think the Holocaust, what it shows us is also that it’s bigger than a single faith, because we all stood on those ramps at Auschwitz in one way or another.”