What is Antisemitism?
Antisemitism is a term used to describe prejudice, hatred, or discrimination against Jewish people.
Historically, antisemitism has taken many different forms. During the Middle Ages, Jewish people were often blamed for societal problems, such as the spread of disease, and leading to persecution. This discrimination persisted through the centuries and reached its darkest point during the Holocaust in the 20th century where approximately six million Jewish people were systematically murdered due to their ethnic origins.
Although the horrors of the Holocaust brought antisemitism to the forefront of public consciousness, the discrimination still persists today. Jewish communities are targeted by terrorist attacks, and incidents of antisemitism are on the rise in many countries. The anonymity of the internet, especially social media, has also become a breeding ground for antisemitic content and harassment.
There are several different forms of antisemitism that we need to be aware of. First, there are the stereotypes associated with Jewish people. These stereotypes depict Jewish people as greedy and untrustworthy, and build conspiracy theories that Jewish people control the world. This myth has led to discriminatory practices in employment and education, where Jewish people are often excluded from positions or opportunities based solely on their ethnicity. Additionally, Jewish people are often blamed for political and societal problems, which can lead to physical attacks and other violence.
With antisemitism being so deeply ingrained in many cultures, defeating it will take a concerted effort from individuals, communities, and governments. But even with it being such a monumental challenge, it is one which any one of us can start making progress with. Big changes are collections of individuals making changes, and anyone can start making positive change to combat antisemitism in our community.
Become Educated About Antisemitism
One of the most effective ways to combat antisemitism is through education. Learning more about Jewish history, culture, and religion can help challenge stereotypes and promote understanding and tolerance. Taking on learning more about the Jewish people for yourself is a great way to better understand the history and effects of antisemitism, the underlying causes, and to better understand why people have antisemitic views, or discriminate against Jewish people. Our partner organisations have produced a range of educational material, covering may of the core topics around antisemitism which are available in our Resource Library here. These resources have been tailored to different audience groups based on age, to help people connect with content which is framed and produced in an accessible way for the audience.
Opening conversations with our neighbours and other members of our community, across different faiths, races and backgrounds is key to breaking through the stereotypes which develop out of fear, distrust and doubt. By creating spaces for people to learn about each other’s beliefs and values, we can promote mutual respect and cooperation.
Showing Your Support
Supporting Jewish communities is another important way to combat antisemitism. Attending Jewish events such as Chanukkah or Rosh Hashanah celebrations, volunteering at Jewish organizations, or donating to Jewish charities can all make a difference. When we show support for Jewish communities, we send a powerful message that discrimination and hatred will not be tolerated.
Stand Up and Speak Out
Confronting antisemitism when we see it is also crucial. Speaking out against antisemitic comments or actions, reporting incidents to authorities, or supporting victims of antisemitism can all make a difference. Governments have a responsibility to combat antisemitism through legislation and enforcement. Passing laws that protect against hate crimes and discrimination, providing resources to Jewish communities, and working with other countries to combat global antisemitism are all important steps governments can take to combat this form of racism.