Jerry Gotel finds the Chinese hungry for his holocaust lessons

finds the Chinese hungry for his holocaust lessons


London-based businessman Jerry Gotel is making sure that Jews all over the world are educated about the Holocaust - particularly those in China.

Mr Gotel, a restaurateur by profession, is director of the overseas division of the London Jewish Cultural Centre's Holocaust and Anti-Racism Education Department. He recently returned from Kunming in the south-western province of Yunnan, where he ran the latest in a number of seminars and workshops on the Holocaust.

He says Chinese academics and students alike cannot get enough of the subject. In 1999, following the Stockholm Declaration, the International Task Force for Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research (ITF) was established in 10 inaugural countries. There are now 24. Mr Gotel, with a yeshivah and Oxford University background, represents the LJCC on the Task Force and is also on the education committee which adjudicates on country projects.

US-born Mr Gotel - who, when asked his age, describes himself as part of the post-war baby-boom generation - tells People: "My brief was to develop Holocaust education in Eastern Europe. But at the same time as this was getting off the ground, in 2001, I was asked to lead a Holocaust education conference in Hong Kong. It turned into a tremendous success, and the following year I was invited by the academic Xu Xin, whom I had met in Hong Kong, to a conference he was running about the Jews of China - the history of Harbin, Shanghai and Kaifeng." Mr Gotel went.

He says: "I fell in love with China. I came back and started to read Chinese history, to study Mandarin at SOAS. Then one day, the penny dropped. We were teaching the Holocaust in places where there was still endemic antisemitism. But there had never been antisemitism in China. The Chinese don't think that way.
"In China, I discovered a hunger for knowledge of matters Jewish, and for European history."

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