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The Czech and Jewish peoples – a deep bond

Andrew Tucker - 11 January 2019

Earlier this week I was in Prague for a conference with Members of the Czech Parliament, journalists, lawyers and others interested in Czech/Israel relations. It was an amazing event.

Despite being the most secular country in Europe (and perhaps the world). the Czech people have been one of the most supportive nations of the Jewish people through the ages.

In recent times, Czechoslovakia was one of 33 countries to vote in favour of the 1947 Partition Plan recommending the establishment of a Jewish state, and was among the first countries to recognise the State of Israel in 1948. Diplomatic relations between the countries were established on July 3, 1948, four months after the communists seized power. Czechoslovakia supported the newly created state of Israel for several months with military aircraft and weapons. Things went downhill thereafter under the communist regime. But in 1993, following the Velvet Revolution (1991), diplomatic relations were re-established.

In 2012, the Czech Republic was the only European country to vote against the UN General Assembly resolution granting “Palestine” UN Non-member Observer State status.

Recently, the President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman announced that Czech Republic would like to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is the first European Union member state to make such an announcement, which conflicts with official EU policy declaring Israel’s reunification of the city in 1967 and its declaration as the undivided capital of Israel as illegal.

Why this unique relationship between the Czechs and Jews? It’s hard to tell. It’s certainly not because of religious beliefs. Perhaps it’s because they too are a relatively small people that has deep roots in the land, and has been continually threatened with occupation from all sides.

It was inspiring to meet so many people who are committed to promoting Czech-Israel relations.

During our visit this week, an alliance was formed of all the existing Czech organizations (Christian, Jewish and secular) promoting Czech-Israel cooperation. This was an initiative of Mojmir Kallus – the tireless International Vice-President of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) and co-founder of the William Wilberforce Foundation in Prague.

The people we met this week emphasized that they are committed to supporting the right of the Jewish people to live in their historic homeland within secure and defensible borders. They said this approach is widely supported both politically and in Czech civil society.

The participants at this conference questioned whether the “two state solution” so fanatically advocated by Brussels has any chance of success. Amongst other things, Israel’s right to sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem should be respected, and the borders between Israel and a Palestinian entity must be defensible; the so-called “1967 lines” are far from being secure. In any event, the Palestinians should be required to put an end to terror and hatred before being granted autonomy.

A lot of work needs to be done to explore alternative options. The EU should promote bilateral negotiations, and stop imposing “solutions” – it is not up to Europe to tell the people of the Middle East how to solve their problems.

But they also emphasized that this does not mean they are anti-Palestinian. The Czech participants reminded us that the Czech republic would like to play a constructive role in helping all parties to take responsibility for finding a durable solution that respects both the rights of Israel and the Jewish people, and the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs to self-determination.

 

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Andrew Tucker is International Editor of our bi-monthly newspaper Israel & Christians Today. The goal of Israel & Christians Today is to help Christians to take God’s Word seriously, and study current events in the world in the context of the Bible. Click here to subscribe.

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