2020 Balkans Forum Against Anti-Semitism

Albania held an online forum against anti-Semitism Wednesday, the first time such a meeting has been staged in the Balkans, with Prime Minister Edi Rama calling anti-Semitism “a threat to our own civilization.”

The Balkans Forum Against Anti-Semitism was organized by Albania’s Parliament in partnership with the New York-based Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM) and the Jewish Agency for Israel. It was held online due to the virus pandemic.

Wednesday’s forum aimed at creating “a united front among the Balkans to act collectively against anti-Semitism, including the removal of hatred and bigotry from our discourse, creating a more tolerant Europe,” organizers said in their invitation.

Regional top leaders, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and other officials from the Balkans, Europe and the U.S. took part.

Albania boasts that during world War II it was the only country where no Jews were killed or handed over to the Nazis and their numbers increased from 600 before the war to more than 2,000 by its end. Albanians protected Jewish residents, and helped other Jews who fled from Germany, Austria and other countries by either smuggling them abroad or hiding them.

Nazi German forces occupied Albania from September 1943 until November 1944, when they were pushed out by local communist partisans.