The World Zionist Organization is holding a seminar in France to combat anti-Semitism. It is planned to be the first in a series of seminars around the world that will unite those who face bigotry. Such recent incidents as this week's Judeo-phobic posters in France decrying a "Jewish mafia", the murder of Ilan Halimi in 2006 and other incidents have caused many people worldwide to realize the matter is a burning one.
Participants will engage in workshops and discussion groups, and will be presented with special kits for dealing with issues of discrimination and prejudice. The program will also feature lectures from Israeli diplomats. Among the speakers will be Father Patrick Dubois, a French Christian historian who has been working with the Holocaust Museum in Paris to help uncover mass graves from World War II.
The seminar will be held December 10th-12th in Paris and is offering subsidies for young Jewish leaders.
Israel National News spoke with the organizer of the event, Yaakov Hagoel, the Head of the Department for Activities in Israel and Countering anti-Semitism of the World Zionist Organization. Born and raised in Israel, Mr. Hagoel in the past has been the head of the Betar Zionist Youth Movement. He has also previously served as the Chairman of the World Zionist Youth Movement Council, and a member of the presidium of the Zionist General Council.
Question: How is anti-Semitism different from anti-Zionism? When people spoke about anti-Semitism 100 years ago, they didn't talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Answer: First of all, I would say we are talking about hardcore anti-Semitism, which is a disease. It didn't start today. For hundreds of years there have been bad people who hate Jews. We are coming to confront that problem. I do understand that there has been an attempt for the last 60 years to combine anti-Semitism with the State of Israel. But I am saying this clearly, whoever did not like Jews before the creation of the State of Israel still does not like Jews after the creation of the State of Israel. I see this only as an excuse. So don't give us this disguise. Don't try to wrap it differently. Anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism is anti-Semitism.
Question: What exactly will you teach at the seminars?
Answer: We need to raise people's awareness of the issues. People need to talk it out and discuss anti-Semitic incidents that are happening in Europe. In addition, the goal is to bring information and give the tools in order to strengthen the national pride of each person. We need to bring the awareness that we can struggle with [anti-Semitism], not just leave it as a problem. The WZO is a large organization and we can help people and tell them that that we are here to help fight. We are going to reach out to every Jew who is affected by anti-Semitism whether personally or through new media, on the internet, talkbacks, etc.
Question: We have a lot of readers in America. What do you think about anti-Semitism in the United States versus in France or other European countries?
Answer: Like I said, anti-Semitism is like a bad disease all over the world. There are a few places in the world that have the Muslim effect, especially in Europe where they are basing [anti-Semitism] on Islam. There is rising anti-Semitism in the rest of the world as well. With G-d's help, next year we will hold seminars all over the world, in North and South American, Australia, South Africa, Russian speaking countries and other places. We hope that with the help of these informational tools that we give, we will create a movement of people that will join together and fight anti-Semitism globally.
Question: What about you personally? Why is this a passion for you?
Answer: I see this as my personal thing. I think that every Jew and every human being, whoever he is, has to look at the battle against anti-Semitism as an extremely important one for the entire world. I am a grandson of Holocaust survivors. Over 65 years ago, when there was anti-Semitism around the world, people did not take it seriously and it ended up with the murder of over 6 million Jews. Unfortunately, among them were 1 million children. I have to say unfortunately that if we're not going to confront it, then it will be worse than what happened in the 1930's and 1940's. This is why I see it as a personal goal as a grandson of survivors that together we will be able to decrease the uprising of anti-Semitism in the world.
For more information on the WZO anti-Semitism conference in Paris, contact Hadar Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/WZOisrael?v=app_4949752878.