GSS professor Carole Cox, Ph.D., recently published an article titled, “Addressing Anti-Semitism in Social Work Education” in the Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought.
From the article’s abstract:
Anti-semitism, one of the oldest forms of prejudice and oppression, is surging throughout the world. It ranges from verbal abuse to the destruction of property to murder. In the last two years, attacks against Jews in the United States were the overwhelming target of religion-based hate crimes. Stereotypes and myths continue to fuel prejudice and antisemitism in society. Factors such as anti-Israel sentiments, remarks by persons in power, the use of social media, white nationalism, and even the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to its escalation.
As a result of the increasing violence, the U.S. legislature held a hearing on confronting anti-semitic terrorism with one outcome being that social workers and community advocates were needed to join law enforcement in the effort to heal and work for justice. Social work, with its mandate to promote social justice and human rights and challenge oppression, cannot ignore anti-semitism and its impact on individuals and societies. However, the subject is basically ignored in the curriculum. This paper offers a brief history of anti-semitism and presents guidelines and models for integrating it into social work programs.
In the article’s conclusion, Cox offered a poem written by Martin Niemöller to stress the importance of teaching about anti-semitism in social work classes:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
The they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.