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April 28, 2003

UCSC to present major conference May 3-5 on ‘Rethinking Anti-Semitism’

By Scott Rappaport

The UCSC Jewish Studies Program and the Holocaust Center of Northern California will present a three-day conference titled "Rethinking Anti-Semitism: The Holocaust and the Contemporary World," May 3-5, at Stevenson College.

commemorative stamp

This stamp, which includes the names of some World War II concentration camps, was issued in Czechoslovakia as a remembrance of the Holocaust.

This event will feature prominent scholars from the United States, Poland, England, Hungary, Israel, and South Africa, who will examine anti-Semitism from both a historical and contemporary perspective. Admission is free and open to the public.

Dr. Yehuda Bauer, one of the world's premier historians of the Holocaust, will be a featured guest speaker at the conference. He is the founding director of the Center for Contemporary Jewry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and director emeritus of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel. Bauer will join several of his colleagues in discussing current developments in the Middle East and Europe, including Islamic anti-Semitism.

Although the Holocaust became a major subject of scholarly investigation in the 1960s, recent developments suggest that the time has come for a reappraisal of the subject of anti-Semitism. For example, documented news reports gathered by the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations tell of a recent worldwide resurgence of anti-Semitism, particularly in the wake of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"There has never been this kind of conference connecting the Holocaust to contemporary anti-Semitism," notes Murray Baumgarten, professor of English and comparative literature at UCSC and co-coordinator of the event. "This conference is a timely and important event designed to challenge current assumptions and refocus perceptions about anti-Semitism."

Participants in the conference will examine the varieties of anti-Semitism during the Holocaust and in the current crisis, the relationship between populist and government-inspired anti-Semitism, and its various representations in literature, cinema, and popular culture.

The conference will begin at 7 p.m. on May 3 with a keynote address by UCSC history professor and conference co-coordinator Peter Kenez. Distinguished Hungarian director Peter Forgacs will then introduce his film Danube Exodus and participate in a panel discussion following the screening. Professor Bauer will deliver the plenary address on May 4 at 11:15 a.m. (He will also give a second address at Sonoma State University on May 6, and will speak in San Francisco at Temple Emanu-El on May 7).

Conference exhibits will include a multimedia installation describing the ongoing history of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fraudulent tract describing a supposed Jewish plot for world domination that is known to be an invention of the intelligence services of Czarist Russia. Reprinted copies of the book have recently been found across the globe from Baghdad to Hoboken, N.J.

An extensive exhibit from the Neufeld Family Archive will also be presented at the conference. Anne Frederika Neufeld Levin and her family escaped from Austria and immigrated to the United States in 1939. In 1996, she donated the Neufeld Family Archive to the UCSC Library’s Special Collections and established the Neufeld Levin Endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies at the campus. Professors Baumgarten and Kenez are co-holders of the Neufeld Levin Chair.

For more information, visit the conference web site.

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