Explain to students that they will now analyse antisemitic images (these are contained in the lesson PowerPoint Addressing Antisemitism Online).
First, however, inform them they will do a quick reflection on and discussion around the following prompt:
- A picture is worth a thousand words (i.e. a picture can convey more than one thousand words can). How far do you agree with this statement?
Before you ask students to engage with each of the memes using either the Gallery Walk or the Big Paper teaching strategy, share the antisemitic meme of ‘The Happy Merchant’ (slide 15 of the PowerPoint Addressing Antisemitism Online). This is partly to model the activity and partly to set the tone for when students connect with these memes independently.
Give students a few moments simply to observe the image. Then, lead them through the following prompts, calling on different students for each prompt to allow for an array of ideas to be contributed:
- Identify a part of the meme that first caught your eye.
- Identify a part of the meme that raises a question for you.
- Identify a part of the meme that is designed to make you feel rather than think.
- Which antisemitic trope(s) might this meme promote?
Then, explain to students that this antisemitic meme is known as ‘The Happy Merchant’ and portrays a Jewish man using negative stereotypes and tropes. The merchant has derogatory features stereotypically associated with Jews (a large hooked nose, a scheming smile and frizzy, unkempt hair) and is depicted rubbing his hands together – an action associated with greed. This meme often appears alongside content used to promote a range of antisemitic tropes, such as Jewish domination and control, Holocaust denial, and Jewish greed.
The meme is from an image created by a racist and antisemitic cartoonist who was active in the 1980s and 1990s.
Next, ask students to engage with the rest of the images in the PowerPoint Addressing Antisemitism Online using either the Gallery Walk or the Big Paper teaching strategy.
Students should circulate to the different images and silently respond to them, using the following questions to guide their thinking:
- What part of this image catches your eye?
- What part of this image is designed to make you feel rather than think?
- What questions does this image raise for you?
- Which antisemitic trope(s) might this image promote?
After students have analysed all of the memes, lead a class discussion using the following questions, revealing them one by one:
- Do you notice any themes or patterns in this group of antisemitic memes/images?
- How do these memes appeal to people’s emotions and fears?
- Which antisemitic tropes are promoted in each meme/image?
- How have the tropes been adapted to retain relevance in contemporary society?
- How do you think these memes/images impact those who view them? How might they shape their world view?
- Have you ever seen any of these antisemitic memes/images, or similar versions of them, online? If so, where?