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ECI on solidarity mission to Israel
As members of the European Parliament returned to a new five year term in Brussels in the first week of September, the Board of the European Coalition for Israel travelled to Israel to show solidarity with the people of Israel.
The trip coincided with an open-ended ceasefire between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas after more than 50 days of military conflict during which over 4,564 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel from Gaza. In 2005, the Israeli Government evacuated its citizens from the Gaza Strip in order to secure peace on its south western border. Instead of peace, it has received over 11,000 rockets and mortars from Hamas and other Jihadist groups who have sworn to wipe out the Jewish state.
In a solidarity meeting with the Speaker of the Knesset, Yuli-Joel Edelstein, the Israeli leader reminded the group about the ramifications of the conflict for European citizens. ‘For each rocket fired into Israel, European citizens should consider the financial ramifications. How many homes could have been built with the funds that were spent on the thousands of missiles? How many schools and hospitals could have been built if the authorities in Gaza had used their resources for the benefit of the people of Gaza, instead of building terrorist tunnels? One tunnel is estimated to cost around 3 million Euros and the IDF have been able to locate and destroy 30 of them, amounting to a total cost of 90 million Euros. Europe is the single largest financial donor to the Palestinian people and therefore has a special responsibility to ensure that the funds are being used correctly by its leaders.’
The Speaker thanked ECI for its unwavering support of the Jewish state in times of crisis and for its many activities around the world on behalf of the Jewish people. He mentioned in particular the ECI initiative to have the UN recognize Yom Kippur as an official UN holiday. "Lack of respect for Jewish holidays prevents Jews from participating fully in the political process, not only at the UN, but also in European institutions", he said.
The bulk of the meeting however was focused on the troubling rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Mr Edelstein praised the ECI initiative in 2005 introducing Holocaust remembrance into the European Parliament in Brussels, as it reminds the people of Europe about the deadly consequences of not waking up and taking action against Jew hatred in time.
"The battle in the 1940s did not begin when the Jews were finally put on railway wagons to the concentration camps, but as early as the 1930s, when Jews were being demonized in the media and harassed on the streets of Germany’, he said. ‘For every attack on a Jewish person, people tried to find a legitimate excuse and refused to see it for what it was - ugly anti-Semitism, pure and simple. Now we cannot make the same mistake again", he said.
Harald Eckert and Tomas Sandell spoke on behalf of the ECI delegation, presenting the many initiatives with which ECI is involved in strengthening support for the Jewish state. They mentioned in particular the upcoming 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Second World War. "This window of time will be of crucial importance in raising awareness of our responsibility to learn from history. It does not stop at the borders of Europe. The tragic experience of the German people, as well as other Europeans, also needs to be shared with other continents. The Global Prayer Call in connection with the 100 days between January 27th (Liberation of Auschwitz) and May 8th (Victory Day) provides a unique opportunity to recommit to the safety and security of the Jewish people in Israel, as well as in Europe", they said.
ECI vision shared at the annual conference of Charmes
Few places in Europe are more synonymous with justice, righteousness and care for the Jewish people than this region of France. This Huguenot-Protestant region has always been a place where Jews were able to find refuge and comfort during the worst moments of their history - one of the most renowned places being the village of Le Chambon sur Lignon. This small town is one of the only two communities in the world which has been officially recognized by Yad Vashem as ”Righteous among the Nations” for its corporate role in hiding thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.
In August, Paris-based ECI Director, Perrine Dufoix, visited the annual conference of the Christian network, L’Union de Pričre de Charmes, located in this very region. The village of Charmes is one of those unique places where men and women from all over France, Belgium and Switzerland have been standing and praying faithfully for the Jewish people. The village of Charmes has been particularly impacted by the spiritual and intellectual authority of the theologian Louis Dalličre, founder of this movement in the early 1930s, whose convictions impacted far beyond this region. Perrine Dufoix explained ECI’s mission to engage with political leaders in Europe today in order to raise awareness of the rise of anti-Semitism.
"What makes 2014 different from 1944 is that there is today a Jewish state, Israel, which was established in order to provide a safe place for Jews to live in. If groups in different nations turn their backs on the Jewish people now, they have their own national home. This also explains why the existence of the Jewish state is so vital", she said "and why we need to engage and challenge our political leaders in regards to their stance on the Jewish state. Jews are currently leaving France in record numbers. Many prefer to leave and make a living in Israel."
After the meeting many thanked her for making it clear that Christians still have a role to play in standing up for the protection of the Jewish people. ECI’s mission is to make sure that more Europeans take the Jewish people to their hearts, just as they did there, 70 years ago.
Sharansky predicts ”the beginning of the end of Jewish life in Europe” as EU starts new five year term
The head of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, has warned of ”the beginning of the end of Jewish life in Europe” if the current trend of Jew hatred and demonization does not stop in time. The outspoken former Soviet refusenik has caused quite a stir in Europe where we pride ourselves on our tolerance and diversity.
Sharansky noted that Europe has opened its gates to the immigration of people who are not asked to share its values of freedom and tolerance. At the same time, many Europeans are rushing back to right wing parties who are hostile to minorities.
Sharansky sees the choice as being between assimilation or leaving Europe. Israeli Government Diaspora Minister, Naftali Bennet, warns that ”for every Jew that makes Aliyah as a result of anti-Semitism, there are many others who simply cut their ties with Judaism and the Jewish way of life.”
It still remains to be seen how the new EU leadership will react to these statements. Just last week the composition of the new EU Commission was announced, and now all key positions in the new EU leadership have been filled. Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, will become the new President of the European Council and Italian Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini, will replace Catherine Ashton as new EU Foreign Policy Chief. The Presidents of the European Parliament, (Martin Schultz) and the European Commission (Jean-Claude Juncker) were confirmed back in June.
Out of the four EU leaders, two are known to be friends of Israel. In his first public appearance as a new President of the European Parliament in 2012, at the ECI co-sponsored Holocaust memorial service, Martin Schulz stated that ”his first and foremost task will be to stand up for the Jews and for the State of Israel.” Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, is considered to be a close friend of Israel, whereas the other two EU- leaders have a more problematic relationship with the Jewish state.
ECI sets priorities for the coming years
The next five years will be challenging for ECI and other friends of Israel. Here are some of the key priorities for ECI in this new season.
Israel´s legal foundation: In July 2014 the European Commission banned poultry from the disputed territories in an effort to undermine Jewish claims to Judea and Samaria. The EU believes the responsible Israeli Ministry is not able to guarantee veterinary standards in the chicken farms in the territories. ECI has consistently been reaching out to parliaments and governments to present the legal foundation of the modern state of Israel, which dates back to the San Remo Resolution of 1920. The Mandate for Palestine gives the Jewish people the right to settle in Judea and Samaria regardless of any future peace agreements.
Lawfare: Since 2010 ECI has engaged actively to defend Israel against an international campaign of lawfare and sanctions, by working closely with international lawyers under the leadership of our Legal Counsel, Andrew Tucker. This will also be one of the key priorities for the coming years. ECI reiterates that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can only be solved through negotiations and not through trade boycotts and international lawfare.
Anti-Semitism: The rise of anti-Semitism was the trigger for the founding of ECI in 2003. If things were bad then, they have now become even worse - with the radicalisation of European politics leading to the rise of the neo-Fascist parties in Europe and radical Islam. Both groups pose a deadly threat to the Jews in Europe. They often join forces with the radical left. In addition to these radical groups, we will also continue to keep an eye on Christian groups who link up with the sworn enemies of Israel to dismiss the Jewish people from a theological standpoint and demonize the State of Israel.
Hate education: EU funding of hate education remains one of the major obstacles to peace by fuelling Palestinian incitement to hatred. Back in 2005, ECI presented a briefing on what the EU should do to reform the EU funding of the Palestinian Authorities. This report later led to a first-ever freeze of EU funding of the PA. We now need to further step up our efforts to make sure that the EU promotes peace in the Middle East and not hatred. This also includes an end to EU funding of anti-Israeli NGOs in Israel as well as in Europe.
Cultural diplomacy: One of the biggest ECI success stories in recent years has been its campaign of soft diplomacy at the UN in New York. Two years ago the UN Secretary-General responded to an ECI campaign for a ban on Holocaust denial by warning nation states against misusing its rights to address the General Assembly by denying the Holocaust. There has been no Holocaust denial in the chamber of the UN General Assembly since this statement.
During this last year, ECI has embarked on a new campaign of better inclusion of Israel in the UN by introducing the idea of UN recognition of Yom Kippur. This was formally introduced by the Israeli Government at our luncheon at the UN on May 12th, 2014. Many nations want to draw nearer to Israel to learn from the Jewish state but need a platform on which to do so. ECI is happy to provide such a platform through its new initiative - the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy.
All these efforts require unprecedented financial and human resources. Thank you for kindly considering a generous donation this month to help us make a good start during this new challenging season.
If you would like to support the work of The European Coalition for Israel, please use this link and you will find payment details, both for paying online and for bank transfers.
SAVE THE DATE
Annual Policy conference in the European Parliament in Brussels is scheduled for 20-21 November, 2014.
Global Prayer Call
Two conferences and a prayer campaign organised by Christians for Israel, Ebenezer and ECI:
- GPC-Conference in Krakow, Poland 25-29 January 2015
- GPC-Conference in Jerusalem, 10-12 May 2015 (As agreed in this year's Prayer Summit, next year's Prayer Summit will be in Jerusalem and will be part of the Global Prayer Call conference.)