March 28, 2020

UNC Offers New Course on Anti-Semitism

Photo from Good Free Photos.

The University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill is offering a new class on combating anti-Semitism for students to take during the current semester.

The student-run Daily Tar Heel reported that student Sam Zahn came up with the idea for the class “Topics in Jewish Studies: Confronting Anti-Semitism” during the previous semester when he noticed that UNC didn’t have any classes that centered on anti-Semitism. He and instructor Max Lazar then developed the course over the next few weeks.

According to UNC’s Carolina Center for Jewish Studies website, the class, which lasts for an hour each week, features guest speakers each week as well as students studying media outlets that promulgate anti-Semitic rhetoric. Students will learn about the history of anti-Semitism, how it relates to current forms of racism and other forms of bigotry and how to combat anti-Semitism on campus and in the community at large.

“We are really looking at how anti-Jewish sentiments come up at different times throughout history, and the common themes we can see in different areas around the world,” Lazar told the Daily Tar Heel.

There are currently 50 students enrolled in the class, which was more than what Zahn and Lazar were expecting.

“The students really responded to this opportunity and are eager to look at this topic from a scholarly point of view,” Lazar told the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies’ website.

He hopes that students will emerge from the class as “allies against hate speech, showing leadership both on campus and long after their time at Carolina,” according to the website.

Zahn told the Daily Tar Heel that he is among the 50 students currently taking the class and appreciates that it takes aspects from myriad departments in the school since anti-Semitism has varying manifestations.

In March, UNC hosted a conference about the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar performed a song that featured the lyrics, “I’m in love with a Jew.” UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in an April statement that he was “heartbroken and deeply offended that this performance happened.” The Department of Education investigated a complaint into the conference; in November, the department and UNC reached a resolution agreement involving UNC investigating allegations of anti-Semitic harassment at the conference and have staff training on anti-Semitic harassment.

Additionally, flyers stating there’s a “silent covert Jewish attempt to enslave and kill good Americans” were found in UNC’s library in April.