Free online course charts the history of antisemitism

‘Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present’ has been launched in collaboration between Yad Vashem and FutureLearn

What is antisemitism? What are its root causes? How did it change throughout history, and eventually enable the Holocaust? How does antisemitism manifest itself today?

These questions and more are the topic of a new online course entitled “Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present,” created by the e-Learning Department at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, in conjunction with FutureLearn, the social learning platform. The six-week free online course is open for enrolment now and will officially start on 19 March 2018. It navigates through more than 2,000 years of history, attempting to answer many of the major questions surrounding the evolution and nature of antisemitism, including its nature after the Holocaust, and how Israel and Zionism fit into the story of antisemitism today.

Using short video presentations by fifty leading experts – researchers, historians, sociologists, linguists, philosophers, political scientists, policy makers, public and religious leaders from Yad Vashem and around the world – the course discusses the history of antisemitism from its earliest roots to its contemporary forms. The course presents tools to understand this age-old phenomenon and the knowledge necessary to identify it.

Notable lecturers and contributors featured on the course include: Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Prof. Irwin Cotler, Prof. Sergio Della Pergola, Prof. Anthony Julius, Prof. Dov Otto Kulka, Prof. Meir Litvak, John Mann MP, Prof. Pierre Nora, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Prof. Dina Porat, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Prof. Anita Shapira, Prof. Bassam Tibi, Katharina von Schnurbein, Prof. Michael Walzer, Dr. Esther Webman, Michael Whine MBE, Prof. Ruth Wodak and Prof. David Nirenberg.

“Holocaust education and the study of contemporary antisemitism have become – in many contexts and for many purposes – interlinked,” states Dr. Naama Shik, Director of the International School’s e-Learning Department. “Effective educational activity about the one involves and requires knowledge and tools regarding the other. It is for this reason that we have developed this groundbreaking and essential course.”

The first three weeks of the course will deal with the evolution of antisemitism until the Holocaust, beginning with the Greco-Roman world, and continuing through the Middle Ages and the Modern Age. The second half explores antisemitism in the world today, focusing mainly on antisemitism in the far-right, far-left, and Arab Islamic world, illustrating the perseverance of old antisemitic tropes and the emergence of new ones, namely Holocaust denial and anti-Zionism.  

Mark Lester, Director of Partnerships Development at FutureLearn, commented, “Yad Vashem is a hugely important organization with an unparalleled reputation in Holocaust education, and therefore we’re delighted to support this new course on antisemitism on our platform. The subject matter of this course should be a priority for all people who seek to understand and want to address the worrying rise of antisemitic attitudes around the world. Only by understanding where antisemitism has stemmed from and how to identify it in modern culture can we begin combating its proliferation.”

Learners who complete the course can expect to be able to explain the historical and ideological roots of antisemitism, identify antisemitic language and actions, discuss the characteristics of antisemitism today, and distinguish between antisemitism and legitimate criticism of the State of Israel.

To register for this course, please click here.