Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Mayors unite against anti-Semitism


Washington, D.C.—A two-page American Jewish Committee ad in June 6’s Wall Street Journal lists the 508 U.S. and European mayors and municipal leaders who have signed on to its Mayors United Against Anti-Semitism initiative, pledging to combat the rise of anti-Semitism.

There were 35 mayors in Florida who signed, including two from Central Florida: Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

“Bravo to those urban leaders from cities, big and small, across the U.S. and Europe, for their courage, conviction, and commitment,” said AJC CEO David Harris of the 189 European mayors from 31 countries, including 26 of the 28 EU member states, and the 319 mayors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia who have so far joined what could be the most far-reaching transatlantic campaign of its kind ever against anti-Semitism.

“Only a few European mayors refused to sign, disappointing as their stance obviously was,” Harris added.

The AJC initiative, calling on mayors to publicly address and take concrete actions against anti-Semitism, was launched last July, following AJC’s groundbreaking strategy conference, “A Defining Moment for Europe,” held in Brussels in May 2015.

“Anti-Semitism is not compatible with fundamental democratic values,” the Mayors United statement asserts. “As mayors and municipal leaders, we have a special responsibility to speak out against the growing menace of anti-Semitism.”

Three of the mayors who signed will discuss the initiative at the AJC Global Forum 2016 in Washington, D.C. They are Mayor Setti Warren of Newton, MA, who helped conceive the idea; Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who also serves as President of the United States Conference of Mayors; and Mayor Yiannis Boutaris of Thessaloniki, Greece, who wore a yellow star at his inauguration in memory of the more than 96 percent of Thessaloniki Jews deported to Nazi death camps.

The Mayors United statement emphasizes that “in a world of global communications where anti-Semitic ideas can and do spread quickly, the impact of the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe does not stop at Europe’s borders.”

It affirms a core set of principles, including the condemnation of anti-Jewish hatred in all forms; rejection of the notion that anti-Semitic acts may ever be justified by one’s view on the actions or existence of the State of Israel; a declaration that anti-Semitism and any other prejudices due to religious differences are inconsistent with core American and European values; and the belief that the promotion of mutual understanding and respect among all citizens is essential to good governance and democratic life.

The signatories pledge to work within and across U.S. and European communities to advance coexistence, and affirm that anti-Semitism is incompatible with fundamental democratic values.


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