Foils and Scapegoats
Anti-Jewish action and antisemitism was common in the Western world since the Classical era. As time passed, superstitions and suspicions about Jewish populations reinforced hatred and persecution that continues to affect Jewish populations today. The medieval period in particular saw violence toward, and persecution of, Jewish people – especially in Christian empires.
- 1How can a rumor follow you for thousands of years?
- 2Should we be more critical of the gossip that we hear about others?
Ask students if they know what antisemitism is, and why it’s relevant today.
Read the sections of the article by the ADL on antisemitism throughout history titled “Islamic World” and “Medieval Christendom” as a class (a unit on antisemitism more broadly could use more of the article).
Lead a class discussion on the material. Ask students:
- What surprises you about what we’ve learned?
- Why do you think Jews were a target of hatred and violence?
- Why do you think people were willing to believe such hateful things?
- Why do you think antisemitism is still an issue today?
Wisconsin Academic Standards
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.