In August, CNN aired an hour- long program on antisemitism narrated by Dana Bash. The program’s subject interested me and so I looked forward to its showing. Unfortunately, it was quite weak in its content and dealt exclusively with video presentations of Jews being beaten or killed, swastikas painted on Jewish buildings, and verbal abuse hurled at Jewish individuals. The hour was filled with well- known images on the subject with little mention of the root causes of antisemitism or what could be done about it. The show did mention that antisemitism was on the rise in America as well as around the world, however, it did little else to help the viewer understand the basic causes of the problem.
I believe that antisemitism can be divided into two categories. The first is the usual canard that Jews killed Christ, Jews want to take over the world, and Jews control banking, media, and other important aspects of society. This form of antisemitism has been around historically for an exceedingly long time and except for attempts at education is difficult to erase from many people’s opinions of Jews.
The second form of antisemitism revolves around the more recent Palestinian Israeli conflict which has invaded college campuses and main- stream media. While much of this aspect of antisemitism is camouflaged by anti-Zionism, it has become a predominant form of hatred against Jews since the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948.
It is in this second aspect of antisemitism that I believe we can make a significant impact by educating our young Jewish adults on the history of this conflict before they go off to college. Our young adults need to be taught about the history of the absolute rejection of peace since 1948, despite numerous attempts by Israel to make peace, due to the persistent Palestinian goal of destroying all of Israel as well as its Jewish population. They need to be taught that if Arabs would lay down their weapons, there would be peace, but if Israel laid down its weapons, there would be no Israel.
We as a Jewish society have done a poor job of educating our children to give them the facts they need to counter the arguments they will encounter when they arrive on college campuses. I highly recommend that our Jewish young adults are taught the history of the Palestinian Israeli conflict while in Sunday School and thereafter and the sooner we add this issue to their curriculum the better.