UNESCO and OSCE – Addressing antisemitism through education – guidelines for policymakers
Openly antisemitic attitudes are no longer limited to extremist circles and are increasingly voiced in the mainstream, the United Nations’ cultural agency has warned.
Unesco said that Jews in Europe were feeling under “renewed danger” and that while teaching people about the Holocaust is important, it is not an adequate substitute for education that aims to prevent antisemitism.
“If antisemitism is exclusively addressed through Holocaust education, students might conclude that antisemitism is not an issue today or misconceive its contemporary forms,” the agency said in a report, which was published on Monday.
“It is appropriate and necessary to incorporate lessons about antisemitism into teaching about the Holocaust because it is fundamental to understanding the context in which discrimination, exclusion and, ultimately, the destruction of Jews in Europe took place.”
The study – jointly produced with the OSCE, a security and democracy watchdog – calls on European governments to uses education to make young people more resilient to antisemitic ideas and ideologies.
“It is alarming that, as survivors of the Holocaust pass on, Jewish communities in Europe feel in renewed danger from the threat of antisemitic attacks,” Unesco’s director-general Audrey Azoulay said.
“Antisemitism is not the problem of Jewish communities alone, nor does it require the presence of a Jewish community to proliferate. It exists in religious, social and political forms and guises, on all sides of the political spectrum.”
She added: “This is both an immediate security imperative and a long-term educational obligation.”
The document contains a list of tropes that students should be taught to identify as antisemitic.
They include blood libel claims, the perception that Jewish people are more loyal to Israel than to their home countries, and conspiracies that Jews are plotting to take over the world for their own gain.
“It is appropriate and necessary to incorporate lessons about antisemitism into teaching about the Holocaust because it is fundamental to understanding the context in which discrimination, exclusion and, ultimately, the destruction of Jews in Europe took place,” the report says.
“Similarly, the study of antisemitism should include some attention to the Holocaust, as a nadir of antisemitism in history, through the state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and their collaborators.”