Evaluating Arguments Using Primary Sources

Have students read the Lesson 7 Introductory Essay, and be sure that students understand the following points, many of which are covered in the essay:

  • The McCarthy era was very difficult for individuals who were targeted by government policies. There were no right or wrong ways for people to behave when they had little control over their fates regardless of the actions they took.
  • Students should understand what the House Un-American Activities Committee did.
  • Jewish organizations (i.e. American Jewish Committee) worked in different ways to protect American Jews during the period.
  • The Soviet Union had been allied with the U.S. during World War II and then immediately after the War, the U.S. Government identified it as an enemy.
  • Individuals whom the government targeted as radicals identified with radical politics in different ways and for different reasons.

Distribute the document study to the students, and have them work in small groups to read the documents and answer the accompanying questions. Then, using the Lesson 7 Worksheet Jewish Radicalism: Why or Why not?, students should generate two lists in response to the questions:

  1. Why did some Jews join or ally themselves with the Communist Party? Why did Jews feel that affiliating with and/or protecting the Communist Party was important even when they were attacked by the U.S. Government?
  2. Why did some Jews speak out against the Communist Party and its supporters? What reasons might American Jews or Jewish immigrants have had to support the House Un-American Activities Committee’s actions against radicals and Communists?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Evaluating Arguments Using Primary Sources." (Viewed on May 7, 2021) <https://jwa.org/node/15193>.


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