USC Shoah Foundation Launches Lecture Series on Understanding and Responding to Antisemitism

Tue, 08/29/2023 - 3:45pm

With anti-Jewish violence and rhetoric on the rise around the world, the USC Shoah Foundation this fall launches a new Antisemitism Lecture Series where leading scholars will guide audiences through the latest research on this persistent and shapeshifting bigotry.

The series will offer insight into past and current manifestations of antisemitism, and explore a diversity of approaches to understanding and combating the current surge in violence and rhetoric against Jews. Lecture topics include online antisemitism, Holocaust distortion in Wikipedia, the persistence of the blood libel myth, and Soviet antisemitism and its lingering effects.

The seven-part Antisemitism Lecture Series begins Thursday, September 7 with “Why We Argue About Antisemitism Today,” a lecture by Dr. Dov Waxman, Professor of Political Science and Director of UCLA’s Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Dr. Waxman will examine why criticism of Israel, agreeing on definitions of antisemitism, and identifying acts as antisemitic have become such contentious issues.

In October, Dr. Robert J. Williams, the USC Shoah Foundation’s Finci-Viterbi Executive Director Chair; Mark Weitzman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization; and Dr. James Wald, Associate Professor of History at Hampshire College, will discuss their work editing the newly released volume, The Routledge History of Antisemitism. The new book studies the history and manifestations of antisemitism, ranging from its origins to the internet. Dr. Williams, Weitzman, and Dr. Wald will explore the reasons for the wide gap between scholarly and popular understanding of antisemitism and how, as concern over antisemitism has grown, so too have the debates over how to understand and combat it. 

Later in the year, audiences will hear from Christina Wirth, a Ph.D. student at the Leibniz Institute for European History in Mainz, Germany, and the USC Shoah Foundation’s first Robert J. Katz Research Fellow in Antisemitism Studies. Wirth will discuss her work using the Visual History Archive (VHA) to study the persistence of European antisemitism in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

Other speakers include Dr. Shira Klein, Associate Professor, Chair, at the Department of History at Chapman University; Dr. Matthias J. Becker, project lead of “Decoding Antisemitism” at the Centre for Research on Antisemitism at the Technische Universität Berlin; Dr. Magda Teter, Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and Professor of History at Fordham University; and Izabella Tabarovsky, senior advisor at the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Badema Pitic, Acting Head of Research Services at the USC Shoah Foundation, said the diverse selection of topics and speakers will bring much-needed insights to critical questions at a time of rising antisemitism, including high-profile physical and verbal attacks on Jews, an uptick in Holocaust denial and distortion, antisemitic tropes on social media, and expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment from both the ideological right and left.

“Antisemitism comes from many sources and many segments of society, and it shows itself in many forms. We have gathered top scholars who are all approaching this topic from different angles and will provide diverse insights, which we hope will help foster a more informed and active public response,” she said.

The Antisemitism Lecture Series emerges from the USC Shoah Foundation's Scholar Lab on Antisemitism, whose recent lecture series demonstrated the growing public demand for access to new research insights about antisemitism. 

The full list of events in the Antisemitism Lecture Series Program can be found here

Philip Wood
Pip Wood has worked as a journalist for outlets including ABC and CNN and in communications for the United Nations, multinational development banks, and non-governmental organizations.