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Mayors from 23 countries convene for summit on combating anti-Semitism

German Jews
A man wearing a kippah waits for the start of a demonstration against anti-Semitism at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, September 14, 2014. |

A global grassroots movement to combat anti-Semitism will co-host a conference this week in Greece alongside dozens of mayors from 23 countries, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, amid reports of rising anti-Semitism worldwide.  

The 2022 Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism (MSAA) will take place Wednesday and Thursday in Athens, with participants from 53 cities and 23 countries. The event marks the first time the MSAA has invited mayors from across the globe to share their municipalities' challenges with anti-Semitism and propose solutions. 

The advocacy group Combat Anti-Semitism is one of the event's organizers. The event will be hosted by Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis and Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou will be in attendance. 

The event's location is symbolic as Athens is considered the "birthplace of democracy," and Greece is home to the oldest European Jewish community. 

"Athens is the birthplace of democracy, and the significant rise of hate and anti-Semitism we are witnessing around the world is a threat to our cherished democratic values," Mayor Bakoyannis said in a statement. 

"That is why this event is so important and timely. We see an insidious spread of anti-Semitism, so there is a need to fight this scourge at the local level as well as to see how these trends are global, and learn best practices from each other towards combating them."

Other co-hosts of the gathering include the Center for Jewish Impact (CJI), the Jewish Federations of North America, the Canadian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Jewish Community of Athens, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.

In a Tuesday statement to The Christian Post, an event spokesperson confirmed that New York City Mayor Adams will participate in the gathering. 

Other notable mayors from the U.S. include Albuquerque, New Mexico Mayor Tim Keller; Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Mayor Dean Trantalis; Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Levar Stoney;  Englewood, New Jersey, Mayor Michael Wildes; and Jackson, Mississippi, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumamba. 

Sacha Roytman Dratwa, CEO of Combat Antisemitism Movement, said Tuesday that the summit's goal is to "help cities protect Jewish communities around the world." 

"We want to help local leaders understand their responsibility to forge interfaith relations among various communities," Dratwa said. "Mayors and other municipal leaders will be gathered to exchange ideas and learn from each other about what is already working to create healthy, pluralistic environments where people of all backgrounds can live together peacefully." 

"It's up to each of us to be a good neighbor and defend our neighbor from bigotry and harm," Dratwa said. "We've all seen the headlines. The time to act is now."

Last year, the first MSAA event was hosted online by the City of Frankfurt, Germany. The gathering comprised leaders from 32 cities across 21 countries, amassing over 60,000 viewers and representatives from over 400 municipalities globally.

The latest summit comes as multiple reports from the Anti-Defamation League have raised concerns about rising anti-Semitic incidents throughout the United States. 

In its latest annual report, the Jewish advocacy group recorded 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism against Jews in 2021, the highest number on record since the ADL began tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979.

New York and New Jersey had the highest number of reported anti-Semitic incidents, with the ADL recording 416 and 370, respectively. 

As The Christian Post reported, the ADL's annual college campus report released earlier this month recorded 350 anti-Israel incidents on college campuses during the 2021-2022 school year. 

According to the report, there were 143 anti-Israel events, 165 protests and actions and 20 Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions and referenda. The ADL also reported 11 instances of vandalism, 19 instances of targeted verbal and written harassment, and one case involving a physical assault.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: samantha.kamman@christianpost.com.

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