On February 26, we had the pleasure of giving a lunch talk on the topic of “Analysing and addressing antisemitism today. Israel-related antisemitism, conspiracy theories and antisemitic incidents and mindsets at schools.”
In the first part of the talk we presented the work of KIgA’s Education and Consulting Unit. Afterward, we looked at current figures of antisemitic incidents in Berlin and provided some insight into the experience of KIgAs pedagogical programs in Berlin schools.
“Jews, Jews, Jews – why is it always about Jews?”
Competitive victimhood is something we are often confronted with in our pedagogical work. Talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often leads to controversial discussions in which students tend to take strong positions and express solidarity with one side of the conflict. Especially among Muslim-socialized students, who usually experience discrimination in their everyday lives, a different narrative prevails, which sometimes comes to a head with antisemitic statements. KIgA’s pedagogical materials are structured to address these different perspectives as well as to promote ambiguity tolerance.
Ambuity tolerance as a pedagogical approach
Ambiguity tolerance was introduced by the Jewish psychologist Else Frenkle-Brunswik. The concept refers to the capacity to withstand uncertainty as well as to tolerate the discomfort of an ambiguous situation. Through a critical-self-reflective approach to personal perspectives and attitudes, participants can change their viewpoint and understand the broader context. Furthermore, it is important for education experts never to ignore discriminatory statements but rather inquire and openly deal with them.
Israel-related Antisemitism and conspiracy theories: frequently requested topics in Berlin schools
Covid19 confronted us with a lot of restrictions in our everyday lives and a great uncertainty regarding the development of the situation. Measures against the pandemic lead to the reduction of social relations and conversations with others. Online, however, the exchange of opinions has become even faster and can therefore be a catalyst for the spread of conspiracy theories. This development is also reflected in the number of requests for workshops at schools. Conspiracy theories, as well as Israel-related antisemitism are currently the most frequently asked for topics for workshops at Berlin schools.
Conspiracy theories have been around for a millennium and have always been closely associated with antisemitism. This synergy dates all the way back to antiquity, within the Christian anti-Judaism. Promoting participation, self-efficacy in the educational process, as well as ambiguity tolerance and media literacy, are approaches to combat conspiracy theories and, thereby, antisemitism.