Central American Leaders Express Support for Israel and Vow to Combat Antisemitism at Historic Event in Panama
(Tuesday, September 13, 2022) — Last week, senior ministers, members of parliament, mayors, religious leaders, and heads of influential NGOs from across Central America expressed their solidarity and support for the State of Israel and called to combat antisemitism, at the first-ever in-person Central America-Israel Forum, which celebrates Israel’s deep and longstanding ties with Central America.
More than 300 participants and officials from 14 nations met at Parlatino, the Latin American Parliament in Panama City, Panama, including Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Panama Erika Mouynes, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guatemala Mario Búcaro, Minister of Education of the Republic of Panama Maruja Gorday de Villalobos, Minister of Social Development of Panama María Inés Castillo de Sanmartín, Vice Minister of Culture of Panama Gabriel González, and the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Environment of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay Gerardo Amarilla.
Israel’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Oded Forer and Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai also participated.
Minister Forer acknowledged the historic nature of the ties, going back to the support of many Central American nations for the 1947 UN Partition Plan which recognized the creation of a Jewish state and called relations “deep and enduring” during his address.
The event was hosted by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), the Center for Jewish Impact, and the Panama-Israel Friendship League.
“We raise a voice of hope, and a commitment as a state to make a common and supportive front against the hatred and intolerance that still exists against Jewish people and the State of Israel,” said Panama’s Minister of Education Gorday de Villalobos.
At the end of the Forum, the dignitaries signed a declaration (see below) calling for “the strengthening of ties between Central American nations and the State of Israel in all areas and arenas.”
There was also an award ceremony honoring the work of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guatemala Búcaro for his strong and enduring relations with the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Minister Búcaro traveled immediately from the Forum to Israel for an official visit where he met with, amongst others, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
“Relations between the State of Israel and Central American nations have been some of the most consistently strong of any region in the world, and there is a recent push to strengthen them even further, from both sides,” said CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Sacha Roytman Dratwa, who opened the event. “Israel and the Jewish people face many challenges in the years ahead, and it is clear from the hundreds of participants at this forum that the leaders of this region are not ‘fair weather friends’ but have a genuine affection and support for the Jewish state.”
We, participants in the Central America-Israel Forum, agree to the following declaration:
We SUPPORT the strengthening of ties between Central American nations and the State of Israel in all areas and arenas.
We RECOGNIZE the State of Israel as the national, ancestral, and homeland of the Jewish People and call to combat those who seek to delegitimize it, especially those who seek its end through the discriminatory Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, whose leaders are antisemitic and anti-peace.
We ENDORSE a mutually agreed-upon solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that meets the national aspirations and security needs of both parties. We do not support the internationalization of the conflict and using international institutions to attack the Jewish State or seek unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations.
We ENCOURAGE more Arab and Muslim nations to join the circle of peace and the Abraham Accords, ensuring a more peaceful region where cooperation and collaboration between Israel and its neighbors increases.
We CALL on Palestinian leaders to seize this opportunity, choosing the path and language of peace and fraternity.
We STAND with the State of Israel in its objection to the Islamic Republic of Iran achieving nuclear weapons capabilities and call on the international community to stand firm in its position to ensure that a return to the JCPOA means that the path to nuclear weapons capability is permanently prevented.
We AFFIRM that antisemitism is an increasing ill in societies across the globe and support the use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, agreed upon by the European Commission and the United States, among many other leading international entities. This definition allows for anti-Jewish prejudice to be clearly defined in its modern-day forms, helping law enforcement to handle it appropriately and justly.