The Persistence of Hate: What the Unite the Right Rally Revealed about Antisemitism

  • Students will recognize the persistence of antisemitism and the ways that contemporary antisemitism is manifested in the United States today.
  • Students will examine connections between antisemitism and racism in the United States today and in the past.
  • Students will be able to discuss ways that they can play a role in creating inclusive, civil classrooms and communities.

This lesson is designed to help students better understand contemporary antisemitism in the United States through the case of the violence and turmoil in Charlottesville. Students will have the opportunity to investigate the historical roots of antisemitism and learn about how it has intertwined with white supremacy in United States history. Connecting history with the present day will help students understand the worldviews of various contemporary white nationalist groups who were present at the Unite the Right rally and remain active today.

After the terrorist attack and murder of eleven Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, the recent rise in the number of antisemitic incidents in the United States received increased attention. The Pittsburgh massacre underscored the significance of another pivotal moment in the rising tide of hatred and bigotry in the United States: the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

Facing History has created a series of lessons that explore the roles that racism and contested history played at the 2017 Unite the Right rally. This lesson adds to that discussion by exploring the August 2017 events in Charlottesville as a case study in contemporary antisemitism. On the first day of this lesson, students will learn about the events leading up to and during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville by examining a timeline and a short video clip. On the second day of the lesson, students will look at American antisemitism in historical context by exploring primary sources from throughout the twentieth century. Through imagery analysis, they will draw connections between these historical sources and images and rhetoric from the Charlottesville rally. On the third day, students will examine community responses to the events in Charlottesville and discuss how they can choose to participate in strengthening their communities when hatred or bigotry violates them.



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