Summit held in Athens on tackling antisemitism

Officials from 53 cities convene in Greece to seek ‘creative solutions’ to counter rise in anti-Jewish hate around the world, reports The Guardian.

Mayors from all over the world have flown to Athens to attend a summit on combatting antisemitism. Officials from 53 cities in 23 countries convene in the Greek capital last week from December 1, with the aim of finding “creative solutions” to counter the alarming rise in antisemitic incidents and hate crimes globally. The summit has been called the largest ever gathering of municipal leaders brought together to discuss antisemitism.

“Combatting extremism, hatred, racism and antisemitism is amongst the most important roles that I have as mayor of New York City,” said Eric Adams, who opened the summit jointly with the mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis. “Antisemitism is on the rise in America and around the world, but it must not be ignored; it must be called out and confronted. And that’s why we stand together, in Athens – the birthplace of democracy – to unite against this hate.”

The two-day conference comes against a backdrop of what Bakoyannis described as an insidious spread of antisemitism globally. Recently, Greece has experienced a surge in antisemitic sentiment fuelled by the now defunct neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. Incidents of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries have been widespread; so, too, has the desecration of Holocaust memorials.

“We have waged our battles against the dark forces of antisemitism and hatred,” Bakoyannis said, referring to the Golden Dawn’s antisemitic vandalism across Athens. “While we remain vigilant, we recognise that this is a grassroots battle that has to be waged at a street level, bottom up.”

The summit’s main goal was to safeguard the democratic values that participants from cities across Europe, the US and Canada shared, he said. “We want to raise awareness but also exchange ideas and learn best practices from each other to stop this insidious spread of antisemitism.”