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Leaders of 60 European cities convene in Germany to learn about Jew-hatred

“Jewish life existed in Europe before the Holocaust,” said Sacha Roytman, who leads the Combat Antisemitism Movement. “Jewish life should be celebrated here again.”

Sacha Roytman (second from right), CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement, with fellow attendees the Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2023 2023 European Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism in Dortmund, Germany. On the far left is Lord John Mann, independent adviser to the British government on antisemitism and a CAM advisory board member. Credit: Benito Barajas/CAM.
Sacha Roytman (second from right), CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement, with fellow attendees the Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2023 2023 European Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism in Dortmund, Germany. On the far left is Lord John Mann, independent adviser to the British government on antisemitism and a CAM advisory board member. Credit: Benito Barajas/CAM.

Three generations of Paul Hirsch’s family traveled this week to Dortmund, Germany, to honor their grand-, great-grand and great-great grandfather, who was the city’s mayor from 1918 until 1933.

Dortmund, which hasn’t had another Jewish mayor, was the site of the Combat Antisemitism Movement’s European Mayors Summit Against Antisemitism, held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

A mural honoring Hirsch was unveiled at Dortmund’s city hall. “Paul Hirsch set an example of how to live an honest life and the importance of doing something for other people, not only yourself,” Leopoldo Kahn, Hirsch’s grandson, said at the event. “I’m very happy and proud that he’s being recognized.”

Dortmund’s mayor announced the establishment of an annual Paul Hirsch Award.

Attendees of the event included the mayors of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Gouda (Netherlands), as well as the deputy mayors of Tallinn (Estonia), Cologne (Germany), Malmö (Sweden), Odessa (Ukraine), Paris and Tirana (Albania). Israeli, Dutch, German and UK antisemitism envoys also attended, as did the chair of Dortmund’s Jewish community.

“Following the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, we want to ensure that global leaders are aware of the current state of antisemitism and how they can work on a local level in Europe to make a difference,” said Sacha Roytman, CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement.

“Jewish life existed in Europe before the Holocaust, and it is our hope that this conference sends a message to every city across Europe that Jewish life should be celebrated here again,” he added.

During the event, the Borussia Dortmund Football Club received CAM’s inaugural Award for Outstanding Contributions in Combating Antisemitism in Sports.

The soccer team has created Holocaust-education programs for fans, employees and sponsors; adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism; sent many representatives to Israel; donated more than $1 million to Yad Vashem; and invited Kibbutz Kfar Aza survivors to Dortmund to watch a game, CAM stated.

“What Borussia Dortmund has done in its antisemitism work is take that work out and into its fan base, spectators and supporters—not just preaching, not just giving good messaging, but creating ownership of the Borussia Dortmund fight against antisemitism, and all discrimination and hatred amongst the supporter base,” said Lord John Mann, independent adviser to the government of the United Kingdom on antisemitism and a CAM advisory board member.

Speaking at a dinner at the event on Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that “Germans perpetrated the worst crime against humanity ever committed, the Shoah.”

“Our country bears a special responsibility to defend and protect Jewish life. That responsibility never ends,” he said. “Germany stands with Israel and supports its right to defend itself against the terror unleashed by Hamas.”

CAM also organized summits this month for Latin American officials and North American mayors.

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