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This monthly report:
Israeli authorities have evidence that the abduction was carried out by members of the Islamist Hamas movement which has recently entered into agreement with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah Group.
In a statement in Helsinki on Monday evening, ECI director Tomas Sandell called upon the European Union to halt all financial support to the Palestinian Authority until Hamas is excluded from all government bodies.
Last week, ECI joined a solidarity rally in Brussels, together with the Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders and local community leaders, to condemn the kidnapping of the three students as well as similar kidnappings in Nigeria. The speakers rejected the use of violence in the name of religion and emphasised that terrorism seeks to undermine the universal values and the fundamental rights recognised by the international community.
Europe elects new leadership – and turns against Israel
Brussels – The government leaders of the 28 EU member states have appointed former Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker (picture) as the new President of the European Commission. The appointment is expected to be confirmed by the European Parliament which meets this week in Brussels.
The change of leadership will not change EU policies towards Israel – at least not for the better. Whereas outgoing President, JosÚ Manuel Barroso, has been known as a friend of Israel, the same cannot be said about Juncker, whose government has often been very critical of Israel.
But the trouble does not stop there. In the last few weeks several EU member states, such as Britain, France and Germany, have warned their citizens against engaging in business transactions with Israeli entities in the disputed territories. Last week they were joined by Italy and Spain.
As the radical Islamist group Isis has brought the whole Middle East into complete turmoil, the EU seems helpless and disoriented. Instead of strengthening the only democratic state in the region, they turn against Israel by demanding that Jews leave the disputed territories.
EU attitudes towards Israel are also visible in the EU’s late response to the kidnapping of the three Jewish students. Whereas most world leaders expressed their solidarity with Israel within 24 hours of the abduction, it took EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton five days to issue a statement. Quickly after that, however, the EU issued another statement, asking Israel for restraint in their efforts to find the kidnapped students.
Israeli Government officials express concern over rise of anti-Semitism in meetings with ECI
Jerusalem – A small delegation from ECI met with government officials in Jerusalem in an effort to prepare for the next five-year period in Brussels which began with the EU-elections in May. In meetings at the Foreign Ministry and in the Prime Minister┤s office, Israeli concerns were raised over the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe illustrated by the election success of new right-wing extremist parties in Europe, as well as by the killing of four Jews at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.
In meetings with government officials, the threats of international lawfare and BDS were discussed, as well as hard core anti-Semitism from right-wing extremists and European Islamists. The Government expressed its gratitude for the work of ECI which they often hear about from their colleagues in Europe and at the UN in New York. One of the first issues a visiting foreign minister wanted to raise with our government last week, was the request to have the UN recognise Yom Kippur’, said one senior official at the Foreign Ministry, thus recognising the involvement of ECI in initiating the project to make Yom Kippur a UN holiday.
ECI first suggested the idea of asking the UN for official recognition of Yom Kippur during a meeting with the Israeli Government in Jerusalem in August 2013.
During the visit, ECI also met with local leaders and colleagues. On the Friday, ECI met with the new leadership of the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem to learn about their priorities and activities. Both organisations agreed that the support from Christian communities in the Global South is a growing phenomenon, whereas more effort is needed to strengthen Christian support for Israel in Europe and the US. Furthermore, the involvement of the young generation is of crucial importance if Israel is to have a support base in Europe and North America in 30 years from now.
ECI trains young professionals to become better advocates for Israel
The Hague – One of the key priorities for ECI in the coming years is to train young professionals and student leaders to become well-informed and well-trained advocates for Israel who are relevant to their own generation.
As the traditional base of Israel supporters in the West is becoming older, we need to raise up and empower a new generation of Christians to stand beside Israel. In consultations with young leaders over the years, it has become clear that, instead of forming a separate organisation, young ECI leaders want to work with the existing leadership. For the last three years ECI has gathered young leaders to special training sessions in Brussels and to meet with MEPs and experts in the area of international law. The work has been spearheaded by ECI legal counsel Andrew Tucker and Perrine Dufoix.
In mid-June, some 25 young people from five nations met in the Hague in Netherlands to learn more about the legal battle which Israel faces at the International Court of Justice located in the Hague. During the three day conference, they met with national members of parliament, the Israeli Ambassador and academics to discuss how they can become more effective in their advocacy work. Please watch a short video report about the event as well as another video report with some of the participants.
Also board member Bedros Nassanian from Gateways Beyond in Geneva has been active in promoting the work of ECI at events for young leaders in Geneva. In the first week of June Tomas Sandell, Gregory Lafitte and Perrine Dufoix spoke at a special workshop in the School of Reformation and Restoration in Geneva on how to engage with governments ”through prayer and diplomacy.”
Please let us know if you want more information about this work or if you want to invest financially in the new generation by making an ear marked donation.
Harald Eckert tours Africa to encourage support for Israel
ECI Chairman Harald Eckert is currently touring African nations to share his vision for praying for our governments to stand on the side of Israel during a time when many forces are uniting against Jerusalem.
Eckert feels that he as a German and we as a European organisation have a special responsibility to share our unique experience with Christians in other parts of the world on the catastrophic consequences of not standing up against evil in time. Eckert often speaks about the failure of the German Church to confront Hitler while there was still time. Today he sees many similarities between the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany in the 1930┤s and today's rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism worldwide.
We connected with Eckert when he was in Uganda and had just spoken to a large group of pastors. He told us that the atmosphere in Africa is very open, as religious leaders are often naturally connected with the political arena. Many African nations are weary of the terrorist activities of Islamic radicals and seek closer relations with Israel. Many also remember the close cooperation between Israel and many African nations during the first decades after Israeli independence.
The Global Prayer Call aims to turn the attention of the church to our responsibilities towards Israel and the Jewish people as we close a chapter of 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of WW2.
It is important to remember that while the Jewish people were the main targets seventy years ago, today it is the Jewish State which is the prime target. The ultimate goal however remains the same – to eliminate Jewish life.
‘Anti-Semitism did not die in the Second World War, it only changed shape’, says Eckert. ‘This time we need to take a strong stand on a global level against anti-Semitism as well as anti-Zionism in its various forms and expressions.
‘Just as the part of the church was swept away in the 1930┤s anti-Semitism, we see the same happening today as many church leaders turn against Israel and join the BDS movement and other critical expressions of Israel. These are not evil people by and large but often misinformed and naive. It is our responsibility to engage in prayer and education for the Christian leaders as well as our government leaders in order to win this information war’, concludes Eckert.