Representatives from more than 50 municipalities came together to participate in the Combat Antisemitism Movement’s 2023 North American Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Nov. 15-16 to address best practices and action steps for how cities can lead the fight against antisemitism.
During the summit, mayors and representatives heard firsthand from three Israeli families directly impacted by the October 7 Hamas attack:
- Natalia Cassarotti and her daughter Shemesh: Natalia’s son, Keshet (21), was killed on October 7th by Hamas.
- Diego Engelbert: his sister Karina, her husband, and their two children are currently being held by Hamas.
- Maayan Sigal-Koren: her mother and four other family members are being held by Hamas.
Each family stressed the importance of the representatives sharing their loved ones’ stories with their respective communities to make it clear that rising antisemitism requires action.
“Hamas tore apart my family,” said Maayan Sigal Koren. “I am afraid for my mother, that she will lose her faith in humanity. I have two young boys, and they ask me about their grandmother. ‘Mommy, if grandma is in Gaza, why can’t we go get her?’ I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story. Please share my story, please help me bring my family home.”
Participants also heard from speakers including media personality Van Jones, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and former NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning about their commitment to standing with the Jewish community and the importance of allyship.
Mayors and representatives also participated in panels on topics including implementing national strategies locally to combat antisemitism in North America and bridging the divide through sportsmanship, among others. Each panel emphasized the power of fighting antisemitism on the local level.
“Combating antisemitism is deeply personal work that requires proximity,” said Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. “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.”
Following the summit, participants were presented with a ten-step municipal action plan to help define and address antisemitism in their cities, including steps to:
- Appoint a coordinator responsible for liaising with the local Jewish community.
- Adopt and implement the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.
- Allocate municipal resources to foster tolerance.
- Enforce a zero-tolerance policy for antisemitism.
- Devise an education plan to train municipal employees on how to respond to modern-day antisemitism.
- Work with educational institutions to protect Jewish students and faculty.
- Coordinate security arrangements at Jewish institutions with municipal law enforcement.
- Use the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism as a framework for action.
- Join the yearly Shine a Light campaign to raise awareness of rising antisemitism.
- Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month each May.
“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,” said Dean Trantalis, Mayor of Fort Lauderdale and chair of the summit. “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.”
Other notable participants in 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; Francis X. Suarez, Mayor of Miami, Florida; and Israeli Consul General in Miami Maor Elbaz-Starinsky.
“Mayors have a unique ability to confront antisemitism at the local level, where it is most directly felt,” said Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement. “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.”
A full list of the summit’s sessions and speakers is available here.
Photos from the summit are available at this Dropbox link, courtesy of Bonomotion Video Agency.