The subject of antisemitism was discussed in an interdisciplinary context, within a historical framework ranging from the Hellenistic-Roman period and the emergence of Christianity to the present times. The major part of the proceedings focused on the Modern Era and contemporary aspects.
Antisemitism was not dealt with as a phenomenon per se, but within the conceptual framework of the "other" as a threat and the "demonization" of social groups. In making this choice we were guided by the need to examine what is common, different, and unique in various forms of hostility.
By the "other" as a threat we had in mind primarily the perception of the "other" as an existential threat to the very continuation of the physical, spiritual, cultural, religious or social existence. This is often presented paradoxically as a threat of a minority or underprivileged group to the dominant majority.
In dealing with "demonization", our intention was to examine the gap between genuine factors which lead to antagonism, such as social, economic or political conditions, religious differences or ethnic origin and the demonic perceptions of "danger" (e.g. the threat of domination or destruction). We also explored the origins and development of images and accusations leading to the demonization of specific groups.
The proceedings of the conference are being prepared for publication.
Papers delivered at a symposium held in Jerusalem on "Fifty Years after the Racial Laws in Italy." Contents: Wistrich, Robert Solomon : Fascism and the Jews of Italy (13-18); Sznajder, Mario : The Fascist Regime, Antisemitism and the Racial Laws in Italy (19-36); Della Seta, Simonetta : Italian Zionism Confronts Fascism and the Racial Laws (37-48); Michaelis, Meir : The Current Debate over Fascist Racial Policy (49-96). SSC