Thought-Provoking Panel Examines Anti-Semitism

Renowned academics considered what is antisemitism, how is it related to racism, whether it is on the rise, and if so, what can be done about it? The goal was to gain a deeper understanding of the issues  through civil discourse and scholarship.

The event, titled “70 Years After Auschwitz: Antisemitism Today,” held in Lenfest auditorium, sought to illuminate the  complicated issues of antisemitism and racism. The conversation touches on associated issues such as the “boycott, divestment  and sanctions” (BDS) movement that puts economic pressure on Israel.

In welcoming guests at a pre-panel gathering, President Brock Blomberg said that “many members of our Ursinus community are all too aware of racial divides in our country and the turbulence, both in the world and within the landscape of higher education, surrounding difficult topics, including anti-semitism … Ursinus, a proud and effective proponent of liberal education, offers a safe space in which to address these issues head-on, through civil discourse and scholarship, in an effort to foster understanding about division, rooted in history, which affects us all.”

The panelists offered diverse viewpoints, while acknowledging a recent upsurge in anti-semitism, especially on college campuses. Jeffery Herf of the University of Maryland, Sharon Musher of Stockton University, N.J., and Elliot Ratzman of Temple University offered a post-Holocaust overview, and their views on reducing anti-semitism, such as teaching and promoting tolerance on campuses.

Student Matan Peleg ’17 introduced the panel, moderated by Ursinus Visiting Assistant Professor in Jewish Studies Alexandria Frisch.  

The event was organized by Ursinus faculty Jonathan Marks, Politics; Frisch, Philosophy and Religious Studies, and Michael Ramberg, campus rabbi and Hillel director. It was supported by the Ursinus College Arts and Lectures Series, Hillel, Jewish Studies, the Department of Politics and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.


Jeffrey Herf is Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Maryland. His many scholarly publications include Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World and The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust, which received the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for work on the Holocaust. His new book, At War with Israel: East Germany and the West German Radical Left, 1967-1988,  will be published in 2016. Herf has contributed to The New Republic, the National Interest, and the Washington Post.

Sharon Musher is Associate Professor of Historical Studies at Stockton University. The author of Democratic Art: the New Deal’s Influence on American Culture, her areas of research interest include women’s history, African-American history, and Jewish history. She is now at work on a new book, Americans Abroad: Hadassah Kaplan, Zionism, and the Making of American-Jewish Women. Musher has also contributed to the Times of Israel.

Elliot Ratzman is Assistant Professor of Religion at Temple University and a faculty fellow of the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. His research interests include Jews and anti-racism, Palestinians and African-American culture, and the intellectual influences on Martin Luther King. His courses at Temple include “Race and Judaism,” “From Spinoza to Seinfeld: A History of Jewish Secularism,” and “Jewtopias! The Jewish Romance with Communism, Zionism, and America.”

Panel Discussion