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< What is Antisemitism?

Why the Jews: History of Antisemitism

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A group of Jewish girls wearing the yellow star.

A group of Jewish girls wearing the yellow star. —United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Oesterreichische Nationalbibliothek.

This 13-minute film introduces the history of antisemitism from its origins in the days of the early Christian church until the era of the Holocaust in the mid-20th century. It raises questions about why Jews have been targeted throughout history and how antisemitism offered fertile ground to the Nazis.

The history of the Holocaust shows that targeting an entire group has far-reaching consequences. It can lead to an increase in xenophobia, racism, and extremism throughout society, with potentially devastating consequences for individuals, communities, and nations.

Discussion Questions

  • How have Jews been affected by antisemitism? What impact does antisemitism have on others?
  • What is the meaning of “scapegoat”? What do people gain from scapegoating?
  • What is the effect of hateful images and speech? Do images and words reflect existing attitudes or create them? 
  • How has antisemitism changed throughout history? What are some differences among religious, political, and racial antisemitism?
  • Why would political or religious leaders espouse antisemitic ideas?
  • How is antisemitism similar to or different from other forms of group hatred?