From the Powerful and Evil Jew to the Zionist as Racist, Oppressor and Imperialist: Continuity and Change in Antisemitic Falsehoods from Ancient Times to the Present.
Professor Jeffrey Herf, Distinguished University Professor, Department of History, University of Maryland, College Park
October 6, 2020
4pm - 5.30pm
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Antisemitism is a variety of hatreds that has nothing to do with the central aspect of racism as Americans understand it. Because it does not have its roots in the color of skin or the cultural issues associated with color by racists, it cannot be understood through the conventional lenses that we use to understand the central injustice of American history, that aimed at African-Americans. Rather, antisemitism is rightly called “the longest hatred” because it has its origins in the Christian accusation of deicide in the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. In modern times, antisemites gave this originally religiously rooted hatred a secular form of conspiracy theories of a powerful and evil “international Jewry.” Since the middle of the twentieth century, Jew-hatred has been expressed by the extreme right, the far left, and by radical Islamists. This lecture examines the broad contours of the history of a hatred that became a form of racism not based on skin color but whose genocidal consequences flowed directly from very old beliefs, deeply embedded in Western culture of the alleged power and evil of “the Jew.” The fight against this longest hatred is central to all efforts to combat all forms of racism and intolerance.
Jeffrey Herf is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park where he specializes in the history of Modern Europe and Germany. He has published extensively on the topic of antisemitism. He received his doctorate from Brandeis University in 1981 and taught at Harvard and at Ohio University before coming to College Park in 2000. His recent publications include Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Radical Left, 1967-1989 (Cambridge University Press, 2016); Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (Yale University Press, 2009), Sybil Milton Prize of the German Studies Association, 2011; The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust (Harvard University Press, 2006), National Jewish Book Award, 2007; and Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (Harvard University Press, 1997), George Louis Beer Award, American Historical Association, 1997.). He has published essays on contemporary history and politics, most recently in The American Interest, The Washington Post, and The National Interest. He is currently working on a book with the working title: “Israel's Moment: Support and Opposition in the United States and Europe, 1944-1949."
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