Focal Point: Antisemitism

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Former Neo-Nazi Peter Sundin on the patience needed to combat antisemitic thinking

Language: Swedish

Former Neo-Nazi Peter Sundin knows firsthand how antisemitism can breed hate – and he’s got ideas to counter it.

Transcript: I had never met a Jew before. Never. And those who I thought were Jewish were not Jewish. [cut] I had the picture of the greedy businessman who tried to brainwash us through our schoolbooks. No one becomes a Nazi overnight and no one can leave the movement overnight. Unfortunately, there is no “quick fix” method that can make people change their views from one day to the next. On the contrary, it’s a long-term endeavor where dialogue needs to be sustained from the beginning when these views emerge to the end, when a person can end up in jail because of those same views.

  • Former Neo-Nazi Peter Sundin on the patience needed to combat antisemitic thinking

    Language: Swedish

    Former Neo-Nazi Peter Sundin knows firsthand how antisemitism can breed hate – and he’s got ideas to counter it.

    Transcript: I had never met a Jew before. Never. And those who I thought were Jewish were not Jewish. [cut] I had the picture of the greedy businessman who tried to brainwash us through our schoolbooks. No one becomes a Nazi overnight and no one can leave the movement overnight. Unfortunately, there is no “quick fix” method that can make people change their views from one day to the next. On the contrary, it’s a long-term endeavor where dialogue needs to be sustained from the beginning when these views emerge to the end, when a person can end up in jail because of those same views.

  • Testimony Speaks: Countering Antisemitism

    Language: English

    USC Shoah Foundation’s Countering Antisemitism Through Testimony Program integrates contemporary personal stories of witnesses to antisemitism into outreach, education and research programs to help counter antisemitism today.

    This video was screened at the UNESCO launch of policy guidelines to counter antisemitism through education, on June 4, 2018.

    Newly recorded testimonies from Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States are being used to engage audiences to develop their understanding of antisemitism as a dangerous form of hate and one of several facets of hatred that threaten all of humanity.

  • Intercollegiate Diversity Congress: "Why Testimony?"

    Language: English

    University student government leaders who participated in the Institute's inaugural Intercollegiate Diversity Congress reflect on the impact of testimony to counter antisemitism, racism and other forms of hate.

  • Video presentation produced for UNESCO

    Language: English

    This presentation of video testimonies on antisemitism appeared to a high-level panel organized by UNESCO at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on September 26, 2018

  • Chouna Lomponda on antisemitism

    Language: French

    Antisemitism is a problem that affects humanity as whole, says Chouna Lomponda, who works at a museum that was violently attacked.

    Transcript: When we talk about antisemitism, and of course I have friends who have suffered from antisemitic acts or insults. We cannot take the measure of it if we don’t live it from the inside. And I think the March attacks (on the Jewish Museum) proved it to us. It is not a question of religion, nor of race. It is really a collapse of our democracy, which is being shaken. It is our living together that is hurt, our cultures too. And this concerns us. It does not concern me because I work in a Jewish museum, it concerns me as a human being. It concerns us all.

     

     

  • Jan DeBoutte on the danger of leaving antisemitism unchecked

    Language: French

    Diplomat Jan Deboutte knows the danger of letting antisemitism go unchecked – and still, he says, there is hope.

    Transcript: It is not too late, but it is time that we realize that what begins with antisemitism does not end with antisemitism. It keeps living on, we have seen it: what happened in the second World War can repeat itself. There is still time for people to react, don’t wait too long because time is also limited. And it would be criminal to not realize that we need to act. Now.

  • Abdelghani Merah on Countering Antisemitism

    Language: French

    Hatred pushed his brother to pull the trigger on Jewish lives, but Abdelghani Merah believes in a better world.

    Transcript: Mohammed Merah is not a hero. A hero does not kill kids because they are Jewish. A hero does not fire a gun in the back of military men. I say: a hero who hurts children and military men does not do this kind of thing. A hero is someone who confronts life with dignity and who respects his next of kin. A hero fights for truth and and a hero fights for justice and Mohammed Merah is not a hero, he is a coward. And only cowards kill in the name of a doctrine.

  • Robert Badinter on the need to confront antisemitism

    Language: French

    French politician Robert Badinter is used to diplomatic speeches but antisemitism is too dangerous to dance around: it deserves no mercy.

    Transcript: One can see the demons re-appear, the masks of traditional antisemitism that is nourished by anti-Zionism. [cut] I was born Jewish. I grew up in a Jewish family and I saw the horrors of the Occupation. Then I saw the birth of Israel – saw it grow and develop to become a super military power and above all an important scientific one. But I realize that the division of the society in distinct communities creeps into Western societies, particularly in Europe and in France. Well, in forthcoming days… I consider that they will not be bright. So we need to mercilessly combat antisemitism and racism in all possible ways. But it will not be easy because... Well, I never thought I would have to say this only 20 years ago. But that’s the fact.

  • Fay Vidal on the complexities of antisemitism

    Language: French

    Twenty years after giving USC SF her original testimony, Holocaust survivor Fay Vidal wrestles with the complexities of antisemitism.

    Transcript: I so wish I were able to define… I wish I were able to draw with a beautiful black pen and say: “That’s what it is, this is a bit of this, a bit of that, and a bit of this also,” but there is no limit, it is endless, there is no firm definition. It is a nine-headed Hydra. It is a monster with billions of heads. [cut] At a soccer game a player is Jewish – someone is holding a poster and shouting, “Long live Palestine.” What is this, if not antisemitism?

  • Viviane Teitelbaum on the importance of speaking up

    Language: French

    Viviane Teitelbaum, a Belgian MP, speaks on the isolation around antisemitism and the importance of speaking up.

    Transcript: It is not what is said that kills me… it is this silence that annihilates me.’ [cut] This strength that we as interviewees have to speak out and give our testimonies, and to hope that the things we say might be heard… It does a lot of good. It gives a lot of renewed energy.

  • Didier Reynder on witnessing the attack at the Jewish Museum in Belgium

    Language: French

    Didier Reynder’s perspective changed after witnessing a horrifying attack at the Jewish Museum in Belgium.

    Transcript: I arrived at the museum and there were locals, people all over the place who were still frightened of what had just happened. I saw the first two victims in the entranceI did not enter the museum. I am used to reading reports, comments, notes on terrorist attacks and criminal acts. But obviously when you find yourself directly in the presence of bodies on the ground, it totally changes your way of seeing reality.

  • Samuel Sandler speaking on the loss of his son and grandchildren in the Toulouse attacks

    Language: French

    Samuel Sandler tragically lost his son and grandchildren in the Toulouse attacks– and it haunts him.

    Transcript: And until today, this has not sunk in: my son Jonathan and my two grandchildren were murdered. I was looking for my children, the rest did not matter. I was looking for my children. I wanted to see Jonathan and my grandchildren. This was the only thing that counted. I have always lived with the tale of my cousin’s deportation when he was 8. I have been marked by this event. In the same way, I have always wondered what Jonathan’s and the children’s last moments were like. But I kept wondering. I do not accept it. I cannot accept this.

  • Mette Bentow, whose daughter's bat mitzvah was targeted by an antisemitic attack

    Language: English

    Mette Bentow remembers the tragedy that struck her daughter’s bat mitzvah – and people’s reactions to this antisemitic attack.

    Transcript: In the weeks after, we received email and phone calls and letters from people all over the world: Jews, non-Jews, Muslims, writing especially to Hannah, saying that nothing should take away – no heinous act should take away from what was her great day. This great outpour of comfort and support and that was wonderful –unfortunately, I also received and read and saw comments about how we brought this upon ourselves. When I try to explain it to my children who ask why does such a bad thing happen… and obviously, for them they ask why do things like this happen to “us”, or Hannah would ask why does something like that happen to me and my party or why does something like that happen to Dan, I say it’s because of hatred. Hatred caused this.

  • Cecilie Banke on what tools are available to counter antisemitism

    Language: English

    What tools are available for countering antisemitism? Researcher Cecilie Banke shares her thoughts.

    Transcript: We cannot avoid this trans-national phenomenon of contemporary antisemitism and we have to face it. This is a problem that Europe has to address, face – it’s a challenge and (we) have to find a solution to it. And this not only goes for Denmark. When I talk about it and analyze and comment on the issue of antisemitism, I always try to be extremely careful not to widen the gap or to put more… how do you say that? “To stimulate the fire”? Instead, I try to do the opposite and also say that this is a problem we have to address and politicians have to address it – we have to find a way. We have to find a way to meet this challenge, and that is not only in Denmark. That is generally in Europe, period.

Antisemitism

Why this Focal Point

We are observing a troubling trend of antisemitism, which is geographically spread, culturally inconsistent, religiously diverse and politically polarized. The growth in the number, ferocity and intensity of public attacks on people, property and interests deemed to be Jewish is cause for serious concern, as is the apathy that often greets it. This Focal Point at USC Shoah Foundation addresses the contemporary crisis of antisemitism using the bedrock of its Visual History Archive to support dialogue, education, research and connection.  It is a community space where you too are encouraged to participate by submitting content, linking to resources or engaging your social networks through the Focal Point to highlight strategies for addressing antisemitism in real time.

Blog: Through Testimony

October 29, 2018

The history of antisemitism is strewn with the corpses of Jews who could not get out of the way when words turned to violence. The slaying of innocent Jewish lives by Pittsburgh gunman Robert Bowers, who this weekend turned his rhetoric about killing Jews into the actual killing of Jewish people, is the latest example. We need laws to allow intervention much earlier, or this will not be the last time we see Jewish people die in America because they are Jews.

By Stephen Smith

More posts on the topic

October 29, 2018; by Stephen Smith
September 17, 2018; by Lauren Deutsch
July 20, 2018; by Stephen Smith
May 8, 2018; by Stephen Smith

Relevant Testimony Clips from the Institute Archive

Rudolph Abraham

Language: English

Rudolph Abraham recalls his first encounters with antisemitism in the early 1930s in Hungary.

  • Rudolph Abraham

    Language: English

    Rudolph Abraham recalls his first encounters with antisemitism in the early 1930s in Hungary.

  • Edith Abrahams

    Language: English

    Edith Abrahams remembers the antisemitic attacks and demonstrations in Germany including the burning of Jewish books.

  • Jack Lerner

    Language: English

    Jack Lerner recalls the moments he experienced antisemitism in his childhood.

  • Maximilian Kaufmann

    Language: English

    Maximillian Kaufmann speaks about the antisemitic propaganda in Austria including newspapers, which drew shrewd caricatures of Jews. He also recalls witnessing the attacks of orthodox Jews on the city streets.

  • Samuel Marcus

    Language: English

    Samuel Marcus reflects on the antisemitism he experienced as a child in New York.

  • George Weiss

    Language: English

    George Weiss was seven years old when the Germans invaded his home country of Belgium. He reflects on the shame he felt when he was forced to wear the yellow star of David to school.

  • Renée Firestone on the Importance of Tolerance

    Language: English

    Renée Firestone reflects on the importance of tolerance and hopes that future generations will learn from her testimony, and stand up against prejudice.

  • Judy Lysy Remembers Jewish Restrictions

    Language: English

    Judy Lysy speaks how Jewish restrictions and antisemitism increased in her hometown in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Yehudi Lindeman

    Language: English

    Yehudi Lindeman, a child survivor from the Netherlands, speaks of the importance of all people learning from the Holocaust.

  • Erno Abelesz on the German occupation of Hungary

    Language: English

    Erno Abelesz remembers when German forces occupied his home country of Hungary on March 19, 1944.

  • Robert Fisch

    Language: English

    Robert Fisch speaks on the importance of standing up to intolerance and the dangers of being a bystander.

  • Agnes Adachi on the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

    Language: English

    Agnes Adachi remembers attending the Olympic Games in Berlin 1936; and describes what it was like to watch Jesse Owens compete and win the gold medal. She recalls that the anti-Jewish restrictions and propaganda had been eased at the time because of the international presence in Germany.

  • Norbert Friedman with a Message to the Future

    Language: English

    Norbert Friedman talks about the importance of learning lessons from the Holocaust, which include human compassion for others, tolerance of different religions and respect for human life.

  • Henry Laurant on experiencing antisemitism

    Language: English

    Henry Laurant remembers the first time he experienced antisemitism in Nazi Germany. He was targeted by other children who were influenced by Nazi rhetoric. His testimony is featured in the multimedia professional development program, Echoes and Reflections.

  • Leo Bach with a message to the future

    Language: English

    Leo Bach explains how humanity has a responsibility to stop atrocities like the Holocaust from happening again.