Mayors from more than 50 municipalities across the United States have come together last week to pledge their commitment to a groundbreaking 10-point plan aimed at combating Antisemitism in their cities. This commitment was made at the 2023 North American Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism, organized by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 15-16.
The urgency of addressing rising antisemitism levels across the continent prompted these representatives to gather and establish best practices and action steps for their cities. The summit aimed to provide a platform for mayors and city leaders to take a proactive stance against the growing threat of Antisemitism in their communities.
Among the key points of the 10-step municipal action plan, mayors pledged to designate a coordinator responsible for liaising with the local Jewish community to ensure effective communication and collaboration. They have also adopted and are implementing the widely recognized IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism as a crucial tool for identifying and combating Antisemitism within their cities. This demonstrates their dedication to addressing this issue with a clear and accepted framework.
Zero-tolerance policy for antisemitism
In addition to these measures, mayors have declared a strict zero-tolerance policy for antisemitism within their cities, making it unequivocally clear that hatred and discrimination will not be tolerated. Furthermore, they have initiated the development of an education plan aimed at training municipal employees on how to recognize and respond to modern-day antisemitism effectively.
In parallel, they are collaborating with educational institutions to establish a safe environment for Jewish students and faculty members, ensuring their protection and well-being within their communities. These comprehensive measures reflect a commitment to eradicating Antisemitism at its core while fostering an atmosphere of inclusion and security for all residents.
Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President, and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, emphasized the importance of local leaders taking action. He stated, "Combating antisemitism is deeply personal work that requires proximity. Mayors know their communities and who they are, they have a convening authority that allows them to put certain structures in place such as local listening and educational sessions, and to use data to drive policy changes."
Families directly impacted by October 7 shared their stories
The summit also provided a platform for the families directly impacted by the October 7 Hamas attacks to share their harrowing stories. Among them was Maayan Sigal Koren, who spoke about her mother and four other family members being held by Hamas. She pleaded, "Please share my story, please help me bring my family home." These heart-wrenching accounts underscored the urgent need for action against Antisemitism.
The summit featured prominent speakers such as Van Jones, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and NBA all-star Alonzo Mourning, who reiterated their commitment to standing with the Jewish community and emphasized the importance of allyship.
Dean Trantalis, Mayor of Fort Lauderdale and chair of the summit summed up the significance of the event, stating, "In times like these, it is essential for leaders to come together, to stand united against prejudice, and to reaffirm our commitment to the principles of democracy, tolerance, and inclusion. It is within our cities, on the streets of our communities, that we can make a tangible difference in the fight against the world's oldest forms of hatred."
Notable participants at the summit included Justin Bibb, Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio; Edward A. Caban, New York Police Department Commissioner; Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor of Miami-Dade County; Frank Scott Jr., Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas; Brett Smiley, Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island; Levar Stoney, Mayor of Richmond, Virginia; and Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami, Florida.
Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, CEO of CAM, commended the mayors for their unique ability to confront antisemitism at the local level, where its impact is most acutely felt. He stated, "At a time when antisemitism is at an all-time high following the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, we are proud of these leaders for joining us to make the commitment that Antisemitism has no place in their cities."