This year’s Summit in Athens aspires to highlight the important problem of growing anti-Semitism, to present strategies and solutions.
“Intolerance is a direct threat to our democratic way of life. It has no place in our societies and therefore we must work together to isolate and eradicate it. [..] Today and tomorrow, we have a unique and valuable opportunity to share experiences and practices in dealing with this important issue. Let this Anti-Semitism Summit be the trigger to move forward with transformational actions and initiatives and build our societies with greater tolerance and resilience”.
With these words, the mayor of Athens, Costas Bakoyiannis, welcomed in Athens tonight more than 25 mayors from all over the world, who arrived in the Greek capital to participate in the World Summit of Mayors against Anti-Semitism – the most important meeting of local government representatives, in context of global actions against anti-Semitism. The Synod co-organized by the Municipality of Athens, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) and the Center for Jewish Impact, in collaboration with the Jewish Federations of North America, began tonight with the scheduled official dinner at the Hyatt Hotel, in which -among others – speeches were made by the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Deputy Prime Minister, Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the Mayor of Athens, Costas Bakoyannis and the Mayor of New York, Eric ‘Adams.
In her greeting, Mrs. Sakellaropoulou, among others, said: “At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it is our moral duty to turn, every day, memory into action. To cultivate historical knowledge. To reflect on the causes that gave birth to Nazism, racism, anti-Semitism and all kinds of racial, religious and social prejudices. To work thoughtfully to awaken consciences and shield against hate speech. To strengthen social friendship and solidarity. Only in this way will the repetition of similar crimes that tarnish our culture be prevented. Only in this way will we not “hear whispers from hell again”, as the great thinker George Steiner characteristically wrote.
The mayor of Athens, in his speech, also underlined that the role of the local authorities is a catalyst in the fight against intolerance, as the local government is called upon to integrate the feelings of the citizens and their struggles in the decision-making process. Mr. Bakoyiannis made special mention of the deep and essential relationship between the city of Athens and the Jewish community, saying: “I am very proud to serve the great city of Athens, a city established in liberal principles and values. Here, Democracy was born and here since ancient times we have in our hearts and minds the correct dialogue, the dialogue without exclusions. At the same time, Athens is the city, which cultivated for thousands of years, deep and meaningful relations with the Israeli community. Until today. I am proud, because Athens has always been and remains an ally of tolerance, personal freedom and security for all”.
In the context of the Synod, Mr. Bakoyiannis awarded an honorary plaque – on behalf of its organizers – to Enes Kanter Freedom, activist and international basketball player for his active action in the defense of Human Rights and Freedom.
The mayor of New York, Eric ‘Adams, who is an official guest of Costas Bakoyannis in Athens, was awarded tonight by CAM for his dedication to the fight against anti-Semitism and intolerance.
The work of the Synod will continue tomorrow at 08.30 in the morning at the Grand Hyatt hotel, with the official positions of the President of the Republic, the mayors of Athens and New York, as well as the other participants, mayors and local government officials, who are expected to share their proposals to combat hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism in their cities, safeguarding a shared democratic future.
The Summit will conclude tomorrow night at the King George Hotel, where the Mayors’ Joint Declaration on Action to Combat Anti-Semitism will be signed. The official dinner is presented to the participants of the Synod by its host, Costas Bakoyannis.
This year, the second Conference of Mayors against Anti-Semitism is taking place in Athens. The first was hosted in March 2021 online by the city of Frankfurt am Main. The network of Mayors is constantly expanding, with declarations of unity and commitment to the effort to fight intolerance and anti-Semitism.
This year’s Summit in Athens aspires to highlight the significant problem of growing anti-Semitism, present strategies and solutions, as well as provide the framework for exchange of ideas and cooperation between cities.
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