Two forums tonight will look at anti-Semitism through different lenses -- with one held in response to the other.
The Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies is holding a symposium on "Antisemitism and Islamophobia: Historical Perspectives and Civic Engagement Against Hate in 2017."
Panelists include Aleisa Fishman, an historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.; and Susannah Heschel, the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College and author of books "Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus" and "Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany."
The panel is at 7 p.m. in Herter 301.
UMass Students for Justice in Palestine have organized a panel on the topic "Exploiting Anti-Semitism: How the Charge of Anti-Semitism Silences Criticism of Israeli Policy."
The panel is also at 7 p.m. at Integrative Learning Center.
UMass professors Joseph Levine and Sut Jhally, and Vijay Prashad of Trinity College, will discuss the "intentional ways in which anti-Semitism is extracted from its actual definition and dishonestly utilized to shut down criticism of Israeli policy, both on an institutional level and in their own lives," according to a Facebook post advertising the event.
The panel on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia was organized to counter that, said Jonathan Skolnik, who teaches German/Jewish culture and history at UMass.
"I felt something had to be done to shift a negative discussion to a positive one," he said.
He said that instead of organizing a protest or engaging in a debate, "I felt it was best to take a cue from Michelle Obama ("When they go low, we go high") and do what university departments can do best: organize a thoughtful, intellectual panel with expert scholars and accomplished activists with diverse perspectives, to discuss anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim prejudice in a comparative context, with historical perspectives on a real problem today, for the education of students and the community."
A Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook post, meanwhile, said: "More and more often, UMass SJP and other organizers against Israeli practices and policy are seeing a pattern of being falsely and ambiguously labeled anti-Semitic, as collective organizers and advocates, and also as individuals."
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League reported 1,299 anti-Semitic incidents across the United States, including physical assaults, vandalism, and attacks on Jewish institutions from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 a 67 percent increase over the same period in 2016. The number exceeds the 1,266 incidents reported all of last year.
The FBI reported a 19 percent hike in hate crimes against Muslims in 2016 over 2015 in its annual hate crime report.