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B’nai B’rith International co-sponsored and participated in the Second Annual Central America Israel Forum, held from Sept. 6-Sept. 8 in Panama City, Panama, and organized by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), the Center for Jewish Impact and the Panama-Israel Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group.

Held for the first time in July 2021 virtually, this year’s in-person forum brought together Latin American Jewish leaders, dignitaries and Evangelical representatives.

The main focus of this year’s forum was strengthening ties and shared values between Christians and Jews. Eduardo Kohn, B’nai B’rith director of Latin American Affairs, took part in a panel on this topic on day two of the forum.

B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin delivered a virtual message to the forum, thanking organizers and participants for their efforts in fighting anti-Semitism and strengthening ties between Israel and Central American countries.

Mariaschin also thanked Evangelical and non-Jewish leaders present at the forum. “It is very important that you know how much we value your friendship and support. It is comforting to know that we are not alone in the fight against anti-Semitism, and in the sometimes-uphill battle against those who seek to delegitimize and demonize the State of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East,” he said.

David Djemal, B’nai B’rith senior vice president for Latin America, closed the opening session emphasizing the shared fight against anti-Semitism for Jews and Christians alike. He also noted the importance of B’nai B’rith’s alliance with CAM and underlined B’nai B’rith’s historic role in defending the Jewish people and the State of Israel and combating anti-Semitism for 179 years.

In total 14 countries in the region took part in the forum. Distinguished guests included Natan Sharansky, former Soviet prisoner of conscience and chair of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy; Mario Bucaro, foreign minister of Guatemala; Maruja Gorday, Panamanian minister of education; Gerardo Amarilla, vice minister of environment in Uruguay; and Fernando Lottenberg, Organization of American States commissioner to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.

In addition to the forum, a special meeting was held between the Jewish Community of Panama and participants attending from outside of the country.

A joint statement from the organizers and sponsors of the forum, including B’nai B’rith, marked the importance of the ongoing support of the forum attended by Christian and Jewish leaders to the State of Israel, support of direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis to find real peace, support of the Abraham Accords and encouraging other Arab states to join these peace agreements, encouraging all countries to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism in order to have a strong tool to combat anti-Jewish hatred, and full support of Israel in its decision to reject the Iran nuclear deal and to do everything in the forum’s power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.