The annual symposium on countering anti-Semitism took place last week in New York under the shadow of the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue less than two weeks ago. The event was a joint effort between the World Zionist Organization and the American Zionist movement.
Israel's General Consul to New York Dani Dayan, Vice-Chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel, President of the American Zionist Movement Richard Heideman, and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik of the NY Board of Rabbis, with 300 American Jewish leaders in attendance at the symposium.
"Today we know that what starts with little attacks and does not stop... could eventually turn into a catastrophe, so we need to demand from our leaders and say ‘if you say never again - act now’,” Israel's Consul General in New York Dani Dayan said.
Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel said during the symposium: "In every generation we are faced by those who wish to destroy us. Hatred of the Jews has come to the land of the free, but it did not start last week. We are witnessing more and more anti-Semitic attacks in the last decade, every year more than the previous one.”
"We shouldn’t forget that four years ago…an anti-Semite shot people at a local JCC, and killed three whose only sin, their only crime, was that they were suspected to be Jewish. We are one people, there is no difference between one Jew to another, between a Democrat and Republican and Reform, Conservative or Orthodox, between men, women and children, and between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. We are all one people, a special one and all of us are in this war together."
He added: "The United States has been and continues to be the natural and strategic partner of the people of Israel and the State of Israel. Even though anti-Semitism exists deep within the sick minds of our haters forever. In, Europe police officers guard Jewish children as they go to their schools. In most places in Europe, the rabbis call to remove the kippahs over their heads. In Belgium and France the Jews remove the mezuzahs from the houses because of anti-Semitism.”
"I do not think there will be a second Holocaust, because we have a free Jewish state that’s been around for 70 years. However, I do fear that this evil anti-Semitism harms our spirit, harms our Jewish identity. If you are afraid to have a mezuzah on the doorpost of your home, at the end of the day you or your child will not be living Judaism. The safety of Jews in their countries of residence is under the responsibility of the governments of those countries. The governments must focus on education and, there is much more to do here in the United States in terms of legislation and enforcement matters. We must not evade our responsibility to preserve ourselves as one united people and to protect our children, grandchildren and grandchildren as Jews, strengthen Jewish identity and strengthen Jewish pride. This is lacking for all of us, and it is also missing for those living in Zion. We have something to fix. We, the Jewish organizations and the Zionist Federation of the United States, need to strengthen this matter at this time.”
American Zionist Movement President Richard Heideman said: "We must promote a policy of zero tolerance, we must be united with Israel in our hearts, put politics aside. This is a time for Jewish unity to be more important than ever, and this Judaism enables us to build a safer future for the Jewish people around the world. We will not be able to do this without this policy ... We will talk directly and take steps and break out and do so in a way that will respect everyone but also the right we have as Jews to live in peace."