Holocaust warnings: Starting a conversation on antisemitism and extremism
Researchers have indicated that antisemitism and extremism is on the rise across the United States - and last week, people of the Luzerne County region and beyond gathered to hear from a panel of experts about how to identify and address it.
“I think this is incredibly timely. I hate what’s happening in the United States right now, and I wanted to hear what a panel had to say about what we can do,” said one audience member who did not provide their last name.
The Friedman Jewish Community Center in Kingston filled up on Thursday with people hoping to ask questions and hear from experts during Holocaust Warnings: American Antisemitism and Extremism.
The luncheon panel discussion, hosted by WVIA in partnership with Misericordia University, was a follow-up to a television program filmed at the WVIA Public Media Studios on Wednesday, June 20.
The panel discussed the origins of antisemitism, the history of the Holocaust, and the importance of remembering that history as antisemitic sentiment is on the rise.
Panelist Dr. David Myers, Chair of Jewish History at UCLA, said that rise is not surprising in the current political and social climate.
“Hate takes rising conditions of political, economic and social instability. That’s when the dormant or latent becomes manifest,” he said. “We happen to be living precisely in such a period of social, political and economic instability.”
Also on the panel were Dr. Alex Alvarez, professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northern Arizona University, Dr. Kelly McFall, a history professor at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas, and Dr. Carol Rittmer of the Sisters of Mercy and former professor of Holocaust studies at Stockton University in New Jersey.
Sister Rittmer was quick to agree with a point presented by Myers - that everyone, not just Jewish people, should speak out against antisemitism.
“I think it’s important that we have a panel that includes Jews and Christians and perhaps persons who do not religiously affiliate,” she said. “We’re talking about issues that cut across communities.”
The filmed discussion will air on WVIA-TV in the fall.