Focal Point: Antisemitism

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.

  • 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.

  • 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 anti-Semitic acts or insults. We cannot take the measure of it as long as we don’t live it from the inside. [cut] It is not a question of religion, nor of race. It is really the collapse of 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.

  • 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] 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 be in jail for those same views.

  • 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 realized 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 limited too and it would be criminal not to 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 justice. And Mohammed Merah is not a hero, he is a coward. And only cowards kill human beings 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. [cut] So we need to mercilessly combat antisemitism and racism in all possible ways, but it will not be easy because... Well, I did not think I would have to say this only 20 years ago. But that’s a 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 much 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.” There is no limit, it is endless, there is no firm definition. It is a hydra with nine heads, it is a monster with billions of heads. [cut] 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: I look around me and nobody amongst my friends [cut] Nobody takes the mike to say: ‘this has to stop’. [cut] And then I understood the meaning of the word ‘indifference’. And I told myself: ‘It is not what is said that kills me, it is the silence that annihilates me.’ [cut] At the same time, this strength that we the interviewees have to speak out and give our testimonies, to be given the chance to say things that we know can be transmitted and hear, it does really good. It gives a lot of 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 around the place who were still frightened of what just happened. I saw the first two victims in the entrance, but I did not enter the museum. I am used to reading reports, comments, notes of terrorist attacks and criminal acts. It is obvious that when you find yourself 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: I think, to this day, this has not sunk in, that my son Jonathan and my two grandchildren were murdered. I was looking for my children and nothing else mattered. I was looking for my children. I was looking for Jonathan and my children. This was the only thing that counted. [cut] I have always lived with the tale of my cousin’s deportation when he was eight. I have been marked by this event. Likewise, I have always wondered what Jonathan’s and the children’s last moments were like.

  • 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, no heinous act should take away what was her great day. [cut] This great outpour of comfort and support and that was wonderful. Unfortunately, I also received and saw and read comments about how we brought this upon ourselves. [cut] When I try to explain this to my children who ask why does such a bad thing happen, 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… 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. It 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

May 3, 2018

As a non-Jew living in Paris, the scourge of antisemitism had, until recently, faded from my mind as a major concern. But my eyes were opened in 2016 when I was approached by the USC Shoah Foundation to executive produce for them a new collection of testimonies on contemporary antisemitism.

By Marianne Lère

More posts on the topic

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.