"The Dreyfus Affair: Antisemitism and Jewish Identity at the Turn of the 20th Century"
Antisemitism has been on the rise in the United States for about the past two decades – and 2021 was the highest year on record for documented reports of violence, harassment, and vandalism directed toward Jews. That’s according to data from the nonprofit Anti-Defamation League, which has been actively monitoring and documenting incidents of antisemitism and publishing this information since 1979.
And there has been a spike of incidents of antisemitism in recent weeks since the Hamas attack on Israel earlier this month.
In a statement released on October 17 the Anti-Defamation League said in the United Kingdom, there had been a 500% increase in documented antisemitic incidents. In the United States, there had been 107 antisemitic incidents since October 7th. In France, the Minister of Interior reported 189 antisemitic incidents, which led to 65 arrests. In Berlin, Stars of David were painted on the homes of Jews. The report cited numerous other examples.
We are going back into history to add some context to the world we find ourselves in, to an incident that unfolded in France in the late 1800s and early 1900s: what’s known as The Dreyfus Affair.
It centered on a Jewish officer in the French Army named Alfred Dreyfus who was accused — on what turned out to be less than flimsy evidence — of committing treason by passing along military information to Germany. His arrest, and then conviction - all unfolding during the dawn of mass media through newspapers - became a force that both stoked antisemitism and France and around Europe, and helped to shape Jewish identity and in some ways even began laying the groundwork for the eventual creation of the State of Israel a half century later in 1948.
GUEST: Dr. Maurice Samuels, Director of the Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism, and Betty Jane Anlyan Professor of French at Yale University.
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