Read the full article at The Forward

By Arno Rosenfeld
November 30, 2022

When the Combat Antisemitism Movement held its inaugural summit for mayors last year, it created a website listing boldname speakers — including the leaders of Toronto, Frankfurt and Pittsburgh — and livestreamed the event from a television studio.

But the lead-up to this year’s conference, which convenes in Greece Wednesday, was far quieter — even with heightened concerns about rising antisemitism. Organizers recruited mayors, but in contrast to last year, gave little notice to the public that it was taking place. There was virtually no mention of the conference online and the first press release about the event came Monday, two days before the meeting was set to begin in Athens, announcing that New York City Mayor Eric Adams would be speaking at the event.

The Anti-Defamation League, which announced a partnership to address “hate and extremism” with 150 mayors through the U.S. Conference of Mayors in September, said this week that it was unaware that the conference was taking place.

Why the difference between last year’s summit and this year’s? It could relate to rising tensions within the Jewish community over how to confront antisemitism. Establishment groups — including organizations like the American Jewish Committee and Jewish Federations of North America, which is co-sponsoring the Greek summit — have called for addressing antisemitism across the political spectrum and see activism aimed at Israel as a particular cause for concern.

They are enjoying wins with this approach at the municipal and local levels. But at the same time, opposition is mounting from progressive critics who argue that politicians should focus on antisemitic white supremacy, and draw a clear distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism, which they argue is legitimate political speech.


The organizers

The two-day conference is closely aligned with the establishment approach toward antisemitism, and the Combat Antisemitism Movement has close ties to both conservative political figures and the Israeli government. Organizers, keeping the conference’s profile low before it begins, may have succeeded in shielding it from unwanted criticism over its embrace of Israel, although at least one left-wing group managed a dig at the event’s sponsors.

“Greece is a beautiful place to travel to, who wouldn’t want to go?” Audrey Sasson, the director of New York-based Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, said in a statement. “But unlike Mayor Adams, most New Yorkers can’t just take all-expenses-paid trips funded by conservative lobbyists and the well-connected.”

Read the full article at The Forward