The workings of anti-Semitism Standing up and speaking out against anti-Semitic prejudice and ostracism

Introduction

Background information and didactical perspective

Anti-Semitic stereotypes and negatively charged images of Jewish people occur in a range of societal arenas. Young people often associate this issue exclusively with the history of the National Socialist period in Germany and of the Holocaust. They are exposed to little discussion, and therefore show low awareness, of present-day anti-Semitism. This module represents an accessible opportunity for pupils to explore the extent of anti-Semitism in our present-day life and consider ways of combating it. The module begins by encouraging pupils to think about how prejudice begins and why it is a problem. Pupils then apply the insights gained here to the issue of anti-Semitism by examining prejudices against Jewish people. Building on this work, the module goes on to explore the definition of anti-Semitism and identify a number of its characteristics. The module's final part raises awareness of anti-Semitism in the pupils' surroundings and facilitates them in discussing what they can do to combat it.

Learning outcomes

Competencies
How discrimination works and its impact on people; stepping into someone else’s shoes and empathising with their point of view (multiperspectivity); developing a view on political and social issues and reflecting upon that view; non-violent solutions to conflicts of differing interests; describing strategies for action against discrimination; open and non-violent conflict resolution and approaching others and their views with respect (values orientation); demonstrating comprehension of media content, engaging with it and evaluating it critically (media skills)
Topics / National curriculum
Engaging with difference and conflict arising from differences; inspiration for personal, societal and cultural development; acceptance of and respect for those different from ourselves; discrimination, racism, violence and ostracism
  • Play
  • Suitable age
    13-16
  • Time frame
    3 x 45 min.
  • Required materials
    smartphones/computer with internet access for students; computer with internet access and attached projector;
  • Description
    This module will help pupils explore the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, its impact, and prejudice more generally, as well as their own role in perpetuating prejudices
  • Subjects / Topics
    Social Studies/Civic Education

Lesson plan

Abbreviations:

  • A = Activity
  • D = Discussion
  • GW = Group work
  • HW = Homework
  • PW = Partnerwork
  • PTS = Previous Teacher’s Study
  • PO = Pupils opinions
  • PP = Pupil’s presentations
  • TP = Teacher’s presentation

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Phase Content Type of activity Media, Material

Introduction
(10 min.)

Objective
  • Pupils will engage with stereotypical ascriptions of characteristics to people and with their consequences and reflect on the stereotypes they themselves subscribe to.
  • They will consider what they know about Judaism and whether they have any prejudices towards Judaism or Jewish people.
  • They will think about their ideas and views.
Preparation
  • The teacher, in preparation, has engaged with how prejudices and stereotypes come into being and how they are perpetuated: text What ist prejudice?.
  • Before the lesson starts, the teacher should have made sufficient copies of worksheet A box labelled "Jewish" and perhaps transcripts of the video Don't put people in boxes and ensured the equipment for projecting the video Don't put people in boxes is ready and working.
Execution
  • Step 1 The teacher accesses the video Don't put people in boxes online and shows it (NB: It will need to be stopped at 45 seconds!)
  • Step 2 The teacher may choose to additionally hand out the video's transcript Don't put people in boxes.
  • Step 3 In a brief discussion, guided by the teacher, pupils consider what the video is about and what ‘boxes’ mean in this particular case.
Note on ‘prejudices’:
  • Prejudices can be defined as established or entrenched negative attitudes towards specific groups or individuals belonging to the group in question. It is frequently the case that prejudices are not based on a person’s own experience, but instead are received from others in the person’s environment and accepted uncritically. It is generally people with weak characters that adhere to prejudices. See What ist prejudice?.
  • A
  • D
M2
Video “Don’t put people in boxes”

Initial phase of work
(5 min.)

  • Step 1 Working on their own, the pupils should now think of and note down other types of ‘boxes’ which people might be categorised in by others.
  • Step 2 After this, they should discuss their ideas with a partner.
  • Step 3 In that discussion, pupils can be given the following questions as prompts:
    • Why do we like to ‘put people in boxes’? What makes us do this?
    • What has this got to do with me?
  • A
  • PW

Presentation and knowledge checking
(10 min.)

  • Step 1 A few groups now present the results of their discussion to the class. Pupils comment on the results and ask questions.
  • Step 2 There follows a whole-class discussion on the following question:
    • If everyone puts people in ‘boxes’ and everyone has been put in a ‘box’ at some point, what’s the problem?
  • Step 3 The teacher should facilitate the discussion.
The objective here is for pupils to gain an awareness of why negative, exclusionary stereotypes and prejudices are a problem.
  • PP
  • D

Second phase of work
(20 min.)

  • Step 1 The teacher now hands out the worksheet A box labelled "Jewish" and asks one or several pupils to read out the piece of text cited there, written by a young author. (Where the language of instruction is German, the teacher may choose to show the relevant film extract instead).
  • Step 2 The pupils should be given time to ask questions and comment on the text.
  • Step 3 The pupils now read the passage for themselves and do the tasks from the sheet with a partner.
  • Step 4 After this, some pupils present their work to the class, while others add any information or ideas they consider relevant, comment on the presentations and ask questions.
  • PO
  • PW
  • PP
M4
Worksheet “A box labelled ‘Jewish’”
Phase Content Type of activity Media, Material

Introduction
(5 min.)

Objective
  • Pupils gain background knowledge on anti-Semitism.
  • Pupils consider where they encounter anti-Semitism in their day-to-day environment.
Preparation
  • The teacher should have made sufficient copies of cards Anti-Semitism is... (pupils will be working in pairs, pairs will be given one card).
  • There should be a pinboard with pins or a board with adhesive tape available in the room.
  • The teacher will need to provide copies of the list of situations What has this got to do with anti-Semitism?.
Execution
  • Step 1 The teacher asks the pupils whether they have ever heard the term ‘anti-Semitism’ and asks for their associations with it.
  • Step 2 Pupils contribute their associations to a whole-class discussion.
It may be helpful to write up some contributions to the discussion on the board.
  • PO
Additional material
  • white board

Main section
(15 min.)

  • Step 1 The teacher writes ‘Anti-Semitism is…’ on the board and explains that the next phase of the lesson will be about finding out what anti-Semitism is.
  • Step 2 Pupils work in pairs. Each pair is given a card Anti-Semitism is.... Some pairs may need to be given more than one card in order to ensure that all cards are studied and explained.
  • Step 3 Pupils read their card and ask any questions on terms or other content they find difficult to understand.
  • Step 4 Pupils now discuss with their partners what they have understood from the card and whether and how it can help them to understand what anti-Semitism is.
  • A
  • PW
M5
Cards “Anti-Semitism is ...”
Additional material
  • white board

Presentation and knowledge checking
(15 min.)

  • Step 1 Each pair reads their card to the whole class and explains how they have understood it. Ideally, they will have thought of some examples and additional explanations.
  • Step 2 The other pairs add their own thoughts and ideas to the explanations, ask questions and make any comments.
  • Step 3 The teacher should arrange all the cards on the board or pinboard so they form a mind map around ‘Anti-Semitism is...’.
  • Step 4 When the mind map is complete, the teacher can lead a discussion to which the pupils contribute further ideas or in which they talk about their thoughts on the workings of anti-Semitism.
The teacher should be aware that there is broad public support in society for an anti-Semitism dressed up as ‘criticism of Israel’. It is important for them to differentiate between the two and raise the issues around equating (genuine) criticism of Israel with antagonism towards Jews. There is a low level of consciousness in society of historical anti-Semitism before the National Socialist period. The teacher should therefore be aware of the historical background to the emergence of anti-Semitism.
  • PP
  • A
  • D
M5
Cards “Anti-Semitism is ...”
Additional material
  • board or pinboard
  • pins or adhesive tape

A closer look; more knowledge checking
(10 min.)

  • Step 1 The teacher explains that he/she is about to read out a list of statements and that the pupils will have the task of working out what each statement has to do with anti-Semitism.
  • Step 2 The teacher reads out selected statements/situations from the list in What has this got to do with anti-Semitism?, and then asks selected students what they think these situations have to do with anti-Semitism, encouraging them to give reasons related to the definition in the mind map. This manner of proceeding will help ensure that pupils do not simply go by their ‘gut feeling’ or their own prejudices.
  • Step 3 In a teacher-facilitated discussion, pupils share their views with one another.
  • Step 4 Prompts:
    • Which attitudes or content we can see here are anti-Semitic?
    • Are they easy or difficult to recognise?

The protection of anyone in the class who has been affected by anti-Semitism is paramount, and teachers need to be just as mindful of this when analysing anti-Semitic stereotypes and images as during other work. It is vital for any pupils who have been victim to anti-Semitism to feel that their needs are being considered and not to gain the impression that their suffering is being talked about and called into question. Even if there is nobody in the class who has been on the receiving end of anti-Semitism, or the teacher is not aware of anyone to whom this applies, the lessons should always proceed with consideration for victims and their experiences.

Asking what is anti-Semitic about a particular statement opens up a space for discussion of anti-Semitic arguments and claims and allows the teacher to raise the question of where anti-Semitism begins, how it works and is structured, and what its central components are.

The question of whether anti-Semitic attitudes are easy or difficult to recognise enables teachers to speak openly of the fact that anti-Semitism is not easy to recogniseand prevents situations in which pupils ‘shut down’ because they are worried that their statements and assumptions might be too speedily condemned as anti-Semitic. Using this question will make it easier for the class to assess what anti-Semitism is and how it can be recognised as such.

  • TP
  • A
  • D
M6
Activity “What has this got to do with anti-Semitism?”
Phase Content Type of activity Media, Material

Introduction
(2 min.)

Objective
  • Pupils explore present-day instances of anti-Semitism and ways of speaking out against it.
  • They will have the opportunity to improve their debating skills.
Preparation
  • The teacher may wish to prepare by finding out about cases of anti-Semitic acts that have taken place in his or her country in the recent past. This will enable him or her to help the pupils with their online research.
  • The teacher should have made sufficient copies of the task Anti-Semitism in our country for the group work and of the transcript I am a Jew.
  • Showing the video I am a Jew will require a projector, a computer with an internet connection and loudspeakers.
  • Between four and six groups of pupils will each need internet access for the research phase.
Execution
  • Step 1 The pupils, facilitated by the teacher, talk about whether anti-Semitism is a current issue in their country.
  • Step 2 Discussion starters:
    • Is anti-Semitism a problem in our country?
    • If not, why not? If there aren’t many Jewish people among our population, does that necessarily mean that there isn’t any anti-Semitism problem in our country?
    • Can you think of any cases of anti-Semitic acts that have taken place in our country?
  • D

Initial phase of work
(10 min.)

  • Step 1 The teacher explains the task Anti-Semitism in our country.
  • Step 2 In small groups of no more than four pupils each, the class do the task.
  • GW

Main section
(15 min.)

  • Using task Anti-Semitism in our country as a guide, the groups prepare information on the case of anti-Semitic hate crime they are going to present.
  • GW
M7
Activity “Anti-Semitism in our country”

Presentation and knowledge checking
(10 min.)

  • Step 1 The groups present their work in turn to the rest of the class.
  • Step 2 The pupils try to find a summarising term or terms for the ways of tackling anti-Semitism that have been raised so far and compile a list of any other action people could take.
  • Step 3 The teacher makes notes on the board.
  • Step 4 Once all groups have presented their work, the teacher adds any other ways of combating anti-Semitism that pupils have not mentioned.

Some important answers:

One of the ways in which governments can tackle anti-Semitism is via their country’s education system. This could take the form of a proactive approach via curricular content and/or of a reactive response via schools and other educational institutions:

Preventive measures might include curricular emphasis on human rights, global citizenship education, promoting critical thinking, stressing values centering on respect, and the creation of a safe and supportive learning atmosphere in which pupils can raise issues and work together on their resolution. Teaching about the Holocaust and its effects can also raise awareness of the issue.

Those who witness anti-Semitic hate crimes can also take action against them. It is important to assess the situation appropriately so the most suitable action can be taken. Intervening will always involve being brave enough to stand up for what is right. If someone is being subjected to a verbal attack, intervening can defuse the situation and help the victim. This might involve naming the issue, facing the perpetrator alongside the victim and offering the victim support. In more volatile or threatening situations, the police should be called and others should be alerted to what is going on. It’s always crucial to avoid minimising or glossing over anti-Semitism or denying that it exists.

Further reading: https://www.osce.org

  • PP
  • A
  • D

A closer look
(10 min.)

  • Step 1 The teacher shows the vide I am a Jew and may wish to hand out the transcript I am a Jew.
  • Step 2 Pupils then discuss the video’s content and its relationship to the topic at hand.
  • Step 3 Discussion starters:
    • What do the people in the video have in common? How are they different from one another?
    • What is the video’s message? What is it trying to communicate to the viewer?
    • Does the video attempt to tackle prejudice?
    • What does this have to do with anti-Semitism?
  • TP
  • D
M8
Video “I am a Jew”
M9
Transcript of video “I am a Jew”