A Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) and Center for Jewish Impact (CJI) delegation visited Tirana, Albania, last week for a series of meetings with Albanian government members, international representatives, and local community leaders. Muslim-majority Albania is known today as a diverse haven of religious co-existence, and is home to a small Jewish community. During the Holocaust, Albania was one of the few places in Europe where Jews largely found safety, and 75 Albanians were named by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations” for bravely helping shelter or save Jews from the Nazi occupiers.
In October 2020, the Parliament of the Republic of Albania — in partnership with CJI & CAM and the Jewish Agency for Israel — hosted the first-ever Balkans Forum Against Antisemitism, which brought leaders from the region and across the world together to fight the age-old societal scourge of Jew-hatred and build better, more tolerant societies for future generations. In a move coinciding with this event, the Albanian Parliament adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.
The CJI and CAM delegation visit to Tirana last week was led by Robert Singer, CJI Chairman, and CAM Senior Advisor.
Highlighting the agenda were discussions on fostering interfaith relations, including Muslim-Jewish solidarity; building Holocaust, antisemitism, and Judaism education initiatives; developing Holocaust remembrance activities; promoting the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism; deepening and nurturing Albania-Israel ties; and creating connections between Albanian and Jewish diaspora communities worldwide.
Officials the delegation met with included Bora Muzhaqi, Albanian Minister of State for Youth and Children; Ermonela Feraj, Deputy Speaker of the Albanian Parliament; Anuela Ristani, Deputy Mayor of Tirana; Evis Kushi, Albanian Minister of Education, Sports, and Youth; Valentina Leskaj, CAM Advisory Board member and former Albanian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs; Amos Dojaka, President of the Jewish Community of Albania; Taulant Balla, Member of the Albanian Parliament and General Secretary of the Albanian Socialist Party; Sokol Dedja, CEO of Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs; Yuri Kim, U.S. Ambassador to Albania; Klodian Bulku, Chairman of Albania’s State Committee on Cults; and Artan Hoxha, Rector of the University of Tirana.
Singer was presented with a Certificate of Gratefulness from Speaker of the Albanian Parliament Lindita Nikolla, handed to him by Deputy Speaker Feraj.
Singer was also interviewed by the News24 television station.
CJI and CAM are looking into hosting another Balkans forum in 2023, with a theme focused on developing Jewish Studies programs at universities in the region and nurturing bonds between Albanian and Israeli students.