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Lapid, Guatemalan president launch Central American pro-Israel forum

CM 29/07/2021

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Central American leaders called to unite against antisemitism at the launch of the Central America Forum for Israel, featuring Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammettei.
Representatives of Israel, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua and the US participated virtually on Thursday in the launch of the new forum, which is sponsored by B’nai B’rith International, Israel Allies Foundation (IAF), World ORT and the Israel Export Institute.
Giammattei spoke of the strong friendship and bilateral ties between his country and Israel dating back to Israel’s establishment. He also thanked Israel for providing aid after hurricanes struck Guatemala last year, as well as for COVID-19 vaccines Israel contributed, which were used to inoculate medical staff.
“Guatemala adheres to, respects and supports the fight against antisemitism,” Giammattei said. “The enemies of Israel are our enemies, and the friends of Israel are our friends.”
Lapid thanked Giammattei for Guatemala’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and mentioned Honduras opening its embassy in Jerusalem as well.

Giammattei referred to his country’s ban on Hezbollah, saying he considers the Shi’ite terrorist group “an enemy of the State of Guatemala, and hope we never receive any investment that might come from groups or countries aligned with Hezbollah.”
Lapid said banning Hezbollah in its entirety is a “key step” in fighting terrorism.
“I am thankful for those who have taken the step and call on every country to follow suit,” he stated.
Lapid also expressed pride that Israel shares its innovations in agriculture, water, healthcare and education, and training thousands of people from South America through the Foreign Ministry’s MASHAV development program.
Dominican Congresswoman Dorina Rodríguez Salazar also addressed the forum, speaking about her nation’s role in saving Jews during the Holocaust. “We welcomed hundred Jews with warmth and love,” she said.
The Central American representatives signed a declaration of their countries’ support for the Jewish people and State of Israel, highlighting their commitment to educating about the Holocaust, which includes the recognition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.
“We stand against hatred in both the political and legal realms,” the statement reads. “We support the use of IHRA as many other countries and institutions have done to help law enforcement handle it appropriately and justly.” 
US representatives also took part in the forum and demonstrated bipartisan support for the fight against antisemitism.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he signed a law creating the Texas Holocaust Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission.
“This commission will help root out antisemitism in Texas and make our communities safer,” he stated. “With the disturbing rise in antisemitism, we all have a responsibility to combat hateful rhetoric and violence in our communities.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York) referred to “certain members of the US Congress and prominent activists who demonize Israel for defending itself against acts of terror. My Republican colleagues and I, as well as many Democrats, unapologetically stand behind Israel as the world’s only Jewish state and a beacon of freedom in the Middle East.”
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) said that antisemitism was a global problem, and “the Jewish community needs partners and allies who are committed to protecting them, and to speaking out against those who seek to delegitimize and call for the destruction of the only Jewish state in the world.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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