The Harris Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted “Antisemitism Then and Now”on Monday, April 1, to address the recent rise in anti-Semitic violence and incidents in the United States.
Gerald Steinacher, a UNL professor of history and Judaic Studies, and Ari Kohen, a professor of political science, invited national scholars to attend the Sommerhauser Symposium and discuss their findings on anti-Semitism. Steinacher said the symposium went beyond academics as a resource for anyone interested in the rising issue.
He said the symposium focused on the history of anti-Semitism in the United States and Europe and current events like violence and racist slurs, threats and graffiti on university campuses in the United States, Europe and around the world.
Steinacher said nativism, nationalism and anti-Semitism first spiked dramatically after World War I, but the ramifications of each provide valuable lessons that are still relevant.
“In a certain way, we are looking back into a distant mirror, and we are trying to understand what happened back then, why did it happen and what are the similarities and differences that we face today,” he said.
At the symposium, scholars discussed Nazi ideology and how it impacted anti-Semitism in Europe and in the United States. They then looked at anti-Semitism today and what people can do to oppose it.
Kohen said he believes Holocaust education is absolutely vital, seeing it as a way to teach the next generation about human and civil rights.
“The most important thing is to talk about these issues and what is going on right now because many people feel isolated and sensitive on the topic,” Steinacher said. “And they don’t necessarily want to talk about it.”