(Teaching) Anti-Semitism (I Don’t Want To)

Pure poison, I do not want to have to teach a course on Anti-Semitism in order for Jewish Studies to be relevant in the current climate enveloping American universities. And why us? With all due and genuine respect to colleagues who teach the stuff, I can’t imagine getting through an entire semester of it. But maybe we have to because otherwise it will go obscured. It’s a bad position to have to be in.  For years it was possible to ignore the problem in Jewish Studies. And then Trump and spiking, surging ethno-nationalism here and in Israel. The problem is that the only good reason to teach courses on anti-Semitism has nothing to do with the problem itself, with directly combatting anti-Semites like one would other more legible forms of modern and contemporary racism; the reason is that part of the problem concerns the need to remind gentile colleagues and students that Jews and anti-Semitism matter still. It’s actually that perverse. 

[[As for the animal caricatures, it is some refined anti-semtica relating to the Dreyfus Affair in “Le Musée Des Horreurs” series by V. Lenepveu (circa 1900). Marilyn Braiterman Books and Erich Chayim Kline bought and sold the entire series of 50 prints some years ago, itself a testament to the aesthetic habits of Jewish antiquarian bookdealers. I’m posting these 2 here in homage to them]]

[[You can find digital copies of the whole collection here. Cf. N.L. Kleeblatt, The Dreyfus Affair: Art Truth & Justice (1987) pp. 242-52 (illustrated) and Bertrand Tillier, Les Artistes et l’Affaire Dreyfus (2009)]]

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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5 Responses to (Teaching) Anti-Semitism (I Don’t Want To)

  1. Dr. Rebecca M. Lesses says:

    I decided I had to teach a course on antisemitism this year for several reasons: I was frustrated at how ignorant my students were about antisemitic ideas (for example, when they uncritically accepted the idea that all Jews are rich and were baffled when I explained that this was an antisemitic stereotype); because over the years I had heard stories from Jewish students about antisemitic experiences they had had; and finally, because of the rise in antisemitism in the last five years. It didn’t have anything to do with the current climate at American universities – what do you mean by that?

  2. I really don’t get this! Especially in this day. To love someone who is different than you is a real blessing. Cultural differences are to be embraced and appreciated. That is how we learn more about who we are in our diversity. How we all live so differently and can teach one another different ways of doing things. Hating someone for that is only ignorant and these people only desire to have things very small.

  3. dmf says:

    seems better to refer the topic to a political science dept or the like.
    more firmly in the realm of the religion dept are we still celebrating the post-secular:

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