Mayors from some of the world’s major cities met in a virtual forum to discuss ways to stop the spread of antisemitism and eradicate prejudice from their municipalities. The first-ever “Mayors Summit Against Anti-Semitism,” sponsored by the Frankfurt am Main Municipality, in partnership with the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM), brought together 44 leaders from 32 cities around the world who conducted a frank and open discussion about the importance of fighting antisemitism in cities worldwide. While advocacy and policy geared toward combating antisemitism often occurs solely at a national or international level, antisemitic acts occur principally in local communities.
The summit presented practical methods for countering antisemitism, including sessions on education and the IHRA working definition of antisemitism; legislation, security, and law enforcement; overcoming trauma; and interfaith and cross-communal relations. The conference was the first step in establishing a global network of mayors who will work together to fight antisemitism.
Speaking at the conference and reflecting upon the upsurge of antisemitic behavior in Europe, Michael O’Flaherty, director of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, commented, “antisemitism is a serious problem in our societies, and it is getting worse. This is not just a problem for the Jewish community – it is a problem for all of us; it is a challenge to the values on which we base our societies and our communities. Here in Europe, if we fail our Jewish community, then we have failed as the modern European project.”
Uwe Becker, mayor of Frankfurt and Main, who hosted the virtual conference, added: “When Jews, our citizens, ask themselves if they will have a safe and secure future in our cities; when boys don’t like to wear kippot [skullcaps] and decide to wear a baseball cap instead; when girls hide the Star of David on their necklaces… then it is not five to 12 but 10 past 12, and we have to push back… It’s up to us to act.”
Among the key speakers at the conference who joined Becker were Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj, Bologna Mayor Virginio Merola, Newark Mayor Jerry Clifton, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, and Mayor of Bal Harbour Gabriel Groisman.