2020 Balkans Forum Against Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

 

The Center for Jewish Impact co-sponsored and was one of the main organizers of a historic gathering - the 2020 Balkans Forum Against Anti-Semitism, in partnership with the Parliament of Albania, the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM) and the Jewish Agency for Israel, with the aim of creating a united front in the Balkans against anti-Semitism.

The unprecedented event followed the adoption of the IHRA working definition on anti-Semitism by the Parliament of Albania, and among its participants were: the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, Speaker of the Parliament of Albania, Gramoz Ruci, the U.S Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, Speakers of Parliaments of Kosovo, North Macedonia and Montenegro, Speaker of the Knesset Yariv Levin, U.N High-Representative Miguel Angel Moratinos, Israel's Minister of Diaspora Omer Yankelevich and many more distinguished speakers. 

Watch: 2020 Balkans Forum Against Anti-Semitism

The historic event followed Albania’s parliament unanimously approval of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which describes hate speech and other acts that discriminate against the Jewish people or the state, their properties or religious objects.

Michael R. Pompeo, U.S Secretary of State, said: "We are here because anti-Semitism is sadly still with us. We share the responsibility of those before us to crush it. We can do it. First, we must define this threat and understand it clearly.” He called on other countries and companies to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which was adopted by the US Federal government following President Trump’s Executive Order last December. Pompeo added, “The task of combating anti-Semitism is pressing, especially as we have seen a disturbing uptick during the pandemic.”

David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, said: “The shameful and sad truth is: In 2020, 75 years after the end of World War II, many Jewish people all over Europe cannot live a life free of worry” adding “This shows that we must never rest, that we must never stop, that we must never allow ourselves to think that the story we believed was over 75 years ago cannot repeat itself.”

Edi Rama, Albania’s Prime Minister said: “We need to continue to fight every form of anti-Semitism, not only as a threat to Jews and Israel, but as a threat to our own civilization and values, on which our future is being built.” Prime Minister Rama also took aim at the dangers of online anti-Semitism, saying “Let us not forget that the very first pogroms originated from the ‘fake news’ and slanders of the day against the actions of Jews. This is where it all originated. The new form of spreading this in the digital world should worry us. There is a lot of hope in digital society for progress, but this must not turn into a nightmare spiraling out of control.”

Gramoz Ruçi, Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Albania, commented: “All nations that aspire towards democracy, pluralism, diversity and tolerance should join the front against ant-Semitism.”

Yariv Levin, Speaker of Parliament of the State of Israel, said: “Anti-Semitism happens not only in the darkest corners of the internet but also in the open. We must ask how we got here and how we can combat it. We need to use all the tools available, legislation, education to stop hate speech and anti-Semitism. We must urge adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. I hope that the message of Albania’s vote will inspire other parliaments in the Balkans and around the world.”

Our Chairman, Robert Singer: “This is an extraordinary event. It is the first time that a European parliament has led such an initiative alongside a global movement fighting anti-Semitism. Successful cooperation has brought about this unique and groundbreaking event, with the participation of senior officials from Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Montenegro, led by the US Secretary of State, European Parliament President, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin and others. The fact that Albania, as a country with a Muslim-majority population, is hosting the conference is amazing. I call on other countries to follow suit and fight anti-Semitism.”