Why do people succumb to evil?
Prejudice against or hatred of Jews—known as antisemitism—has plagued the world for more than 2,000 years.
Early Christian thought held Jews collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. This religious teaching became embedded in both Catholic and Protestant theology during the first millennium, with terrible consequences for Jews. Following many centuries of persecution and exclusion, the Jewish minority in Europe achieved some rights after the Enlightenment. As Europe became more secular and Jews integrated into mainstream society, political forms of antisemitism emerged. Jews were targeted for their ideas and their role in society. In the late nineteenth century, pseudo-scientific theories that legitimized a racial form of antisemitism became popular with some intellectuals and political leaders. All of these centuries of hatred were exploited by the Nazis and their allies during World War II culminating in the Holocaust, the systematic murder of Europe’s Jews.
“History has shown that wherever anti-Semitism has gone unchecked, the persecution of others has been present or not far behind. Defeating anti-Semitism must be a cause of great importance not only for Jews, but for all people who value humanity and justice….”
—U.S. Department of State, 2008
In recent years, there has been an increase in antisemitism, in the form of hate speech, violence, and denial of the Holocaust. These incidents are occurring everywhere, but especially in the Islamic world and in lands where the Holocaust occurred. In many Middle Eastern countries, antisemitism is promoted in state-controlled media and educational systems, and militant groups with political power, such as Hamas, use genocidal language regarding Jews and the State of Israel. The president of Iran repeatedly has declared the Holocaust a “myth” and that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” In Europe, antisemitism is increasingly evident among both far-right and far-left political parties. And in the United States, some Jewish students on some college campuses are confronted by antisemitic hostility. Violence targeting Jews and Jewish institutions continues around the world. Denial and minimization of the Holocaust, along with other forms of hatred against Jews, is now widespread on the Internet in multiple languages.
In the aftermath of the moral and societal failures that made the Holocaust possible, confronting antisemitism and all forms of hatred is critical.
Antisemitism: Protocols of the Elders of Zion »
Antisemitism: How Deep Are the Roots? »
Scholarly Panel on Antisemitism »
Christian Persecution of Jews over the Centuries »
“Past Revisited? Historical Reflections on Contemporary Antisemitism” occasional paper from the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies »
Holocaust Denial »
Nazi Propaganda »
Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany »
Additional Resources on Antisemitism »
Holocaust Denial Timeline »
An audio series and podcast service that features a broad range of perspectives about antisemitism and hatred today. Guests include Elie Wiesel, Cornel West, Robert Satloff, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Faiza Abdul-Wahab, and Daniel Craig. Join us every month to hear a new program.
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Teaching about Antisemitism »
A Dangerous Lie: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
This special exhibition explores the continuing impact of the most widely distributed antisemitic publication of modern times.
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View animated timeline from 1864 to the present »
Watch a video about the exhibit »
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State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda
This groundbreaking exhibition reveals how the Nazi Party used modern techniques as well as new technologies and carefully crafted messages to sway millions with its vision for a new Germany.
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Online Exhibition Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race
In the early 20th century, as science and technology were becoming more prevalent, the “science” of eugenics began to provide a basis for defining Jews as biologically inferior.
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