That antisemitism is on the rise is so obvious, it need not be stated. But understanding the phenomenon of antisemitism is less than obvious as it is surrounded by many seeming contradictions:
Antisemitism has existed with and without Christianity—
With and without the right wing,
With and without the left wing,
With and without democracy,
With and without economic problems,
With and without globalization,
With and without a Jewish homeland—
And, perhaps most tellingly, with and without Jews.
It’s not clear how all these facts help us understand this complex phenomenon, but it is clear that to call it the longest hatred is far from an exaggeration. In fact, its durability, its flexibility, its ability to be present and active in so many different cultural, political, economic and religious contexts for over two millenia, speaks to its utter distinctiveness.
This Museum presents the ultimate consequences of unchecked antisemitism. But studying the Holocaust alone is not enough to understand this phenomenon, which pre-dates and post-dates the murder of Europe’s Jews. It is a phenomena that has taken many forms, and has roots in many of our most basic social institutions – theology, science, politics, and culture. Tonight our distinguished guests will help us explore its relationship to the Holocaust and the implications for our lives today.