Background: Antisemitism is a growing phenomenon across the United States and Europe and college campuses are particularly vulnerable. But, strangely, there aren’t a lot of resources to teach this complex form of oppression at an age-appropriate level for college students. This is an attempt to bridge that gap.
Goals: To understand the history of antisemitism and where various terminology originates. To be able to explain how antisemitism operates in the US and on college campuses. To know the difference between antisemitism and anti-Zionist sentiment. To be able to understand how to address antisemitism when they see it.
For: College students, students aged 18-24, faculty and staff who work with college-aged populations. Both Jewish and non-Jewish participants.
Time: 1.5 hours
Materials: One copy of the informational packet per person. Not every participant needs a supplementary packet, but have copies available for participants should they want them.
Room set up: have participants sit in groups. Try to mix the makeup of the group. I found the conversation to be the most productive when there was a really great mix of staff, students, and faculty who were both Jewish and non-Jewish.
Compelling questions: What is antisemitism and how is it a form of oppression? What can we do about it?
Part 1: Building the Community Culture
Have participants read/skim the listed values. These are the standards for how we will be participating in the dialogue. Ask participants if they have any questions or if they have anything they want to add.
*feel free to substitute your own guidelines into this as well*
Part 2: Warm Up
Read the questions out loud and let participants sit with the questions for a few seconds. Repeat the questions. Have participants to jot down their answers. Don’t take answers from the group or have them discuss, this is just their own thoughts and perceptions about what they themselves know.
Part 3: Definitions
Have participants take 5 or so minutes to read over the list of terms. Notice which terms have multiple definitions and notice where each different definition comes from. Prompt participants to take notes in the margins, underline, circle things that stick out to them.
After a few minutes of silent reading, prompt participants to share with their groups about what they noticed. Then, have them share with the big group. Some sample questions to ask are:
- What stuck out to them?
- What did they learn?
- What have they heard about this?
- What do they disagree with?
Part 4: Statistics
Have participants skim over the statistics. Show them that the statistics are about this area, where they live and work. This is an issue within this community and context. Ask,
- What is surprising about these statistics?
- What do you notice about the changes in the data?
- Why is the data changing?
Part 5a: Mythbusting
Bring the room back to the front. This piece is a crucial step for uncovering what stereotypes participants have and examining where they come from. Make sure to read or have participants read the definitions at the beginning. Have participants read each statement out loud and take a second to reflect. They might want to jot some thoughts down or they may have a question they want to ask. Have them turn to their table and discuss the questions. Follow-ups and explanations for where each myth comes from are in a separate packet, as I really wanted to emphasize the unpacking of their own assumptions before giving students the answers.
For this part, feel free to substitute other myths and stereotypes in this part to tailor the content to your campus.
Part 5b: Scenarios
In a continuation of the myth-busting above, these scenarios are examples of how those myths might play out in person. Again, feel free to tailor this sections to your campus, especially if there have been documented events on your campus.
Have each group read each scenario out loud and answer the following questions:
What is the problem/dilemma?
What myth is this situation based on?
What facts can you give to disprove the myth?
What else can you do or say in response to this situation, if this happened at AU?
Part 6: Jews and Intersectionality
In this section, have participants take turns reading each source and then answering the questions at the end. Feel free to pause at any time and reread parts that are confusing or dense. Make note of parts that resonate with participants. Remember, they are reading for understanding, so posing questions that arise to your group mates, even if they don’t know the answers, can help point them in the right direction! After each source, take a moment to process and perhaps flip back to parts in the text that are sticking with participants.
After each source, answer the questions provided.
Part 7: Allyship
This is the final section of the Dialogue. This section can be done as a group, as individuals, at tables, or on their own. The thing to take away from this section is recap and reflection. Each participant will take away something else from this program and will have learned something different. So this will be a very individualized response.