Ahmed Shaheed - Credit - UN Photo & Amanda Voisard

International Group Holds Online Commemoration of Poway Shooting

Commemorating Poway Synagogue Shooting, US & UN Officials Pledge Determined Fight Against Anti-Semitism

Ceremony organized by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement to commemorate the first anniversary of the deadly shooting

Survivors of the attack were joined by US Special Envoy Elan Carr, UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Ahmed Shaheed and Israel Ambassador to UN Danny Danon

26 April 2020 (New York) – The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM) held an online ceremony today, marking the first anniversary of the tragic shooting one year ago at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue, which killed Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injured three others.

Survivor Jonathan Morales spoke at the event, recalling his experiences and the subsequent impact on himself and the community. He was joined by Elan Carr (US Special Envoy for Combatting Anti-Semitism), Danny Danon (Israel Ambassador to UN) and Dr. Ahmed Shaheed (UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom or Religion and Belief), who last October authored a landmark UN report on anti-Semitism, acknowledging the increase in anti-Semitic incidents and urging governments to take action, including adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.  

Jonathan Morales, a community member and patrol officer who was on the scene at the time of the attack and returned fire against the attacker, recalled how the gunfire was aimed indscrimately against men, women and children. He said, “What I have learned from this anti-Semitic attack, is that we can’t change people’s beliefs in these anti-Semitic ideas, but we can promote awareness and education on these issues. We need to be prepared to protect ourselves and thank God I could immediately step into action to protect our community. But we also need to continue to fight anti-Semitism with light and love.”

Elan Carr, the US Special Envoy for Combatting Anti-Semitism said, “As an Administration, we are at war with these hatemongers, who feed off venomous hate. We are at war with them on the far-right, as we are at war with the anti-Semites of the far-left and of militant Islam. We won’t rest until we defeat this evil.” He continued, “This awful rise in anti-Semtism is not a German problem, an American problem or a French problem, but a global problem, which requires a global response.”

Danny Danon, Israel Ambassador to the UN said, “As the world fights against coronavirus, another virus has taken root in societies around the world. It is not new, rather one of the most ancient viruses, which takes many different forms. There are many treatments, but no cure. It is anti-Semitism. Especially during times of crisis, anti-Semitism raises its ugly head. We are witnessing this again today. The Palestinian Authority is blaming Israeli soldiers for spreading the virus, even as they try to help save the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

Dr. Ahmed Shaheed (UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom or Religion and Belief) said, “Only last week, I issued a global warning about the rise in anti-Semitism in light of the coronavirus outbreak. I call on governments to adopt the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism in full, while ensuring freedom of expression, and to take legislative measures against anti-Semitism to be enforced both online and in the physical space.” Dr. Shaheed concluded by saying, “People should never be complacent about the dangers of anti-Semitism. My message is that none of us are safe when any of us are unsafe.”

At the event, the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement announced the launch of a project to plant olive trees in honor of those killed and other victims of anti-Semitic attacks. The first 25 trees will be planted in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, in Kfar Silver, Israel. They will grow as a symbol of life and hope in the face of hatred. The project was spearheaded by Michael Ross, one of the winners of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement’s recent Venture Creative Contest

Following Sunday’s event, Sacha Roytman-Dratwa, The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement Director said, “First and foremost, it is so important to honor the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye and to remember those who were injured in the appaling attack one year ago at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue. Despite the current restrictions on everyday life, we were determined not to let this anniversary pass quietly. Only through raising awareness, by educating about the horrific consequences that anti-Semitism can have, can we begin to ensure that such a tragedy never occurs again.” 

The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM) is a non-partisan, global grassroots movement of individuals and organizations, across all religions and faiths, united around the goal of ending anti-Semitism in all its forms. Since its launching in February 2019, 220 organizations and 200,000 individuals have joined the movement by signing the campaign’s pledge. The CAM Pledge draws upon the IHRA international definition of anti- Semitism and its list of specific behaviors used to discriminate against the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel.  

CAM recently announced the launch of two new initiatives, its latest Venture Contest with a total prize fund of $50,000 for new initiatives to fight anti-Semitism, plus the opening of its Ambassador program. Contact info@combatantisemitism.org for more information.

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