Anti-Semitism: Its History and Politics
Dr. Shmuel Lederman
This course explores the history and politics of anti-Semitism. We begin with “traditional” Jew-hatred in the middle ages, particularly in the Christian world, and discuss its religious, political, and economic causes. We then examine the gradual transition in the character of the hostility towards the Jews against the background of modern developments such as the emergence of the modern state; the age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the shift to a capitalist economy and the rise of nationalism. In the second part of the course, we discuss the rise of modern anti-Semitism at the end of the 19th century, the particular character of German anti-Semitism as a “cultural code” in this period, and the re-emergence of anti-Semitism as an important political force in Germany after WWI. Finally, we examine the scholarly debates about the role of anti-Semitism in Hitler’s rise to power and in the participation of “ordinary” Germans in the Nazi extermination project.