Friday, December 5, 2008


Run by the Zionist Federation
Supported by Department for Zionist Activities and Hagshama Department
Also Supported by The Jewish Agency

This weekend saw an extremely successful Israel Connect European Young Leadership Conference take place in Amsterdam.  Over 50 participants, from fifteen different countries came together to network, learn and take different ideas back to their communities. 

We had three key note speakers – all excellent.  Hagai, a UK-based academic, consultant / analysis and commentator, specializing in the Middle East and related affairs, geo-strategic issues, terrorism and the modern Far-right, gave a detailed Israel Analysis focusing on what the important American Elections are going to mean for Israel.  In his second session he then focused on the Israeli Elections, and what each possibility would mean for Israel.  His third and final session was an extremely interesting skills session, advising how best to deal with the media, and how to in fact position yourself to get acknowledged, and thus influence, the media.  

Efraim Zuroff, an Israeli historian of American origin, who has played an important role in the efforts to bring Nazi war criminals to justice during the past 28 years, kept everyone on the edge of their seats with fascinating stories about important topics.  More importantly he emphasized the need for such actions which gave us all something to think about.

Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, Director of the American Jewish Committee's Transatlantic Institute in Brussels, a frequent commentator on Israeli domestic politics, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Europe’s Middle East policy, discussed the topic of Irans Nuclear File, along with sharing with us what it means for our countries, and what our counties can do to influence the situation.  

Yoav Magid, a professional debating trainer, led an exciting and worthwhile session on how to put your arguments across effectively – giving everyone a skill they can use in their every day lives, as well as for Israel Advocacy.

During Saturday we had an extremely interested interactive networking session. Here everyone went round and gave a brief introduction about themselves: Name, where they are from, their professional job, what they do in the community for Israel, what skills they have and that they can offer to people, and what they need help with from others. It was amazing to see how well matched peoples needs and skills were, and immediately people were discussing ideas for their communities. Additionally, it was interesting watching the heads of UJS in three different countries talking about how they all operate and what advice they can offer each other.

Saturday night showed a new initiative work very well. We invited local Jewish Young Professionals from Amsterdam to join the conference for one of Hagai’s sessions (about the Israeli elections), and then join us for dinner and going out. This created the opportunity for those that may not otherwise have the opportunity to hear such speakers interact within the session. This saw over 70 people at the lecture for Saturday night, after which we all had dinner and a few drinks where lots of email addresses and numbers where exchanged.

Feedback showed it was a very successful weekend, with everyone taking from each session.  Many phone numbers and email addresses were swapped at the weekend, with promises of further contact to be made to help each other with individual projects. 

We look forward to the next conferences:
27th February – 1st March 2009: Copenhagen
8th – 10th May: Budapest
3rd – 7th June: Israel
4th – 6th September: London