Central American leaders gather for solidarity and support for Israel, combat antisemitism

Last week's event in Panama was the first-ever in-person Central America-Israel Forum to reject antisemitism and support Israel following last year's virtual meeting.

 Central-America Israel Forum participants  (photo credit: COMBAT ANTISEMITISM MOVEMENT)
Central-America Israel Forum participants
(photo credit: COMBAT ANTISEMITISM MOVEMENT)

Amid high rates of global antisemitism, more than 300 participants and officials from 14 Central American nations gathered last week at the first-ever in-person Central America-Israel Forum to reject antisemitism and support Israel. 

Attendees included senior ministers, members of parliament, mayors, religious leaders and heads of influential NGOs who met at Parlatino – The Latin American Parliament in Panama City, Panama.

Humanitarian aid provided by the Israeli embassy in Panama (credit: ISRAELI EMBASSY IN PANAMA)Humanitarian aid provided by the Israeli embassy in Panama (credit: ISRAELI EMBASSY IN PANAMA)

The event was hosted by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), the Center for Jewish Impact, and the Panama-Israel Friendship League.

“We raise a voice of hope, and a commitment as a state to make a common and supportive front against the hatred and intolerance that still exists against Jewish people and the State of Israel,” said Panama’s Minister of Education Gorday de Villalobos.

“Relations between the State of Israel and Central American nations have been some of the most consistently strong of any region in the world, and there is a recent push to strengthen them even further, from both sides."

Sacha Roytman Dratwa

CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Sacha Roytman Dratwa, who opened the event, said: “Relations between the State of Israel and Central American nations have been some of the most consistently strong of any region in the world, and there is a recent push to strengthen them even further, from both sides." 

Israel’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Oded Forer and Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai also attended. 

Minister Forer spoke of the historic ties, dating back to the support of many Central American nations for the 1947 UN Partition Plan which recognized the creation of a Jewish State. He called relations “deep and enduring” during his address.

Central America's support for Israel

The Central American representatives signed a declaration of their countries’ support for the Jewish people and State of Israel, highlighting their commitment to educating about the Holocaust, which includes the recognition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.

We AFFIRM that antisemitism is an increasing ill in societies across the globe and support the use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, agreed upon by the European Commission and the United States, among many other leading international entities," the statement reads. "This definition allows for anti-Jewish prejudice to be clearly defined in its modern-day forms, helping law enforcement to handle it appropriately and justly."

Last year marked the launch of the Central America Forum for Israel, featuring Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammettei.

Representatives of Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua and the US participated virtually in the 2021 launch.