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Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro was honored today for his work countering anti-Semitism over the past decade at a symposium in Washington, D.C., organized by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) and B’nai B’rith International.

More than 100 diplomats, organizational officials and community leaders gathered at the OAS headquarters.

Calling him an ally to the Jewish community, B’nai B’rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin gave remarks recognizing Almagro’s leadership in the fight against anti-Semitism and his role in the OAS adoption of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

“Secretary-General Luis Almagro’s determination to speak out quickly and without hesitation every time he witnessed anti-Semitism is something we deeply value,” Mariaschin said. “His tenure has certainly made this institution a more reputable and important one. And I want to thank him, both personally and in the name of my organization, for his moral leadership, and his friendship.”

“History teaches us that societies which allow anti-Semitism to flourish ultimately end up corroding their democracy and the health of their institutions,” Mariaschin added. “Therefore, the plague of anti-Semitism must be fought, not just by the Jewish people, but also by all those who want to live in a healthy, democratic and inclusive society.”

Presenting the CAM Global Leadership Award to Almagro, CAM Board of Governors Member Robert Singer said, “We the Jewish people need leaders of Almagro’s caliber. He is in a special category of our friends and deserves 100 percent credit for his clear and strong stance against anti-Semitism.”

“Anti-Semitism is the oldest, most coordinated form of racism,” Almagro said during his remarks. “Fighting anti-Semitism means fighting for democracy and human rights.”

Almagro highlighted the adoption by the OAS of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism and its designations of Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations as important steps it has taken to address Jew-hatred in the Western Hemisphere, and he also warned of the global threat posed by Iran.

CAM’s Global leadership Award was granted to Almagro in recognition of his “commitment to combating anti-Semitism, extremism and hatred across the Americas.”

At the opening of the program, U.S. Rep. Maria Salazar—who represents Florida’s 27th district and chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Western Hemisphere Subcommittee—hailed Almagro’s leadership in the fight against anti-Semitism.

“We will confront the scourge of hate against the Jewish people that we unfortunately are currently experiencing now in our hemisphere,” Salazar said. “After the horrific attacks on Israel on October 7, there has been an explosion of anti-Semitism in Latin America—specifically in three countries: Colombia, Honduras and Chile, who have recalled their ambassadors from Israel after Israel began defending itself.”

A musical interlude was offered by Uruguayan classical guitarist Magdalena Duhagon, before Betty Ehrenberg, executive director for World Jewish Congress-United States and North America and B’nai B’rith Director of Latin American Affairs Eduardo Kohn gave presentations on the 500-year Jewish history of Latin America, as well as the contemporary state of affairs for Jewish communities there.

Kohn also recognized OAS and Almagro’s support amidst rising anti-Semitism and demonization of Israel following Oct. 7. Speaking in Spanish, Kohn said, “We thank that the OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro reacted immediately on October 7 and condemned Hamas as a terrorist group and we praised his decision to host families of those who are still hostages in the hands of Hamas.”

The U.S. State Department was represented at the symposium by Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Aaron Keyak.

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which claimed the lives of 85 people, leaving hundreds injured,” Keyak noted. “Shockingly, the same hatred that fueled that tragedy three decades ago still leads to violence today, as evidenced by the surge in global anti-Semitism since October 7.”

The Washington Institute’s Matthew Levitt and Catalan journalist and former politician Pilar Rahola both offered deeper expertise on the influence of Iran and Hezbollah across Latin America in recent decades.

CAM Director of Hispanic Affairs Shay Salamon said, “Too many today ignore the real danger of the tentacles that Iran has extended across the Latin American region. Now more than ever, with the rise of anti-Semitism following October 7, we need to seek the truth.”

Speaking on behalf of the symposium’s OAS host countries, Canada, Uruguay, and Argentina, Permanent Representative of Canada to the OAS Stuart Savage said, “No one could have imagined the brutality of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, nor could we have foreseen the sharp rise of anti-Semitism that followed across the globe. Such extreme manifestations of hate and anti-Semitism are an assault on all of us, not just Jews.”