ECI marks 10th Anniversary

Brussels – This month will mark the 10th Anniversary of the European Coalition for Israel. On Purim 2003, (which fell on March 18th), a group of Christian leaders and Members of the European Parliament felt that the time had come to make a stand for Israel and the Jewish people in the corridors of power in Europe. ECI was born, “for such a time as this.”

This had been a process which had begun as long ago as September 2001, but which came to completion in March 2003. A year later, also in March, the first official conference was organised in the European Parliament, hence cementing the importance of the period around Purim for ECI.

One could say that ECI as an initiative had been long overdue. Many were asking at the time what the world would have looked like if there had been an ECI in 1933. The answer is not to look back and speculate, but to take responsibility for today.

If you would like to congratulate ECI on its 10th Anniversary, you might like to consider a financial gift. The challenges ahead of us have never been greater and we need your support more than ever. Thank you for prayerfully considering our request for help.

UN battle between “the sons of Greece and the sons of Zion” continues

New York – The UN vote on November 29th on PA non-member state status in that world organisation, was a marker on the prophetic calendar. This became clear when the leadership of ECI met for a strategic consultation in Switzerland in early February. November 29th, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar was Kislev 15th in this year’s Hebrew calendar. That date in 167BC, marked one of the darkest hours in Jewish history, when the Greek emperor, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, defiled the temple in Jerusalem by setting up an idol of Zeus on the brazen altar and ordered the daily sacrifice of a pig to be made on it.

It was probably no coincidence that such a date was chosen for a vote on a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, with the Old City of Jerusalem as its capital. Once again, Israel was humiliated by the nations, as their claim to their ancestral capital was ignored.
The battle, then as well as now, is about Jerusalem and between “the sons of Greece and the sons of Zion.” (Zech. 9:13). The abomination of desolation in the temple was historically an attempt by the Greek occupiers to completely humiliate the Jewish people. Less than 250 years later, in 70AD and in 135AD, we saw the culmination of this animosity, as the successors of the Greeks - the Romans - destroyed the temple and murdered over one million Jews in an attempt to put an end to Jewish history in the Holy land.

Modern Europe is said to be built on three hills - Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. Today there is a growing battle between Athens and Rome on the one hand, and Jerusalem on the other, as the nations once again come against Jerusalem. Ultimately we know that only one of these three hills will prevail.

Isaiah 2 states: “In the last days, the mountain of the Lord´s temple will be established as chief among the mountains, it will be raised above the hills and all nations will stream to it.…. The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”

The same chapter, Isaiah 2, is prominently displayed outside the UN headquarters in New York, as a reminder of the only true hope for world peace.

European Parliament starts working group on anti-Semitism Slow EU response to Erdogan slur against Israel

Brussels – The sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents in Europe has led to the forming of the first ever (!) European Parliament working group on anti-Semitism. ECI took part in the inaugural meeting on February 26th, as representatives of all major political groups met to discuss the challenges posed by new populist parties around Europe and other forms of anti-Semitism.

Many members expressed their concern, not only over the rise of anti-Semitism in the member states, but about the very fact that there are today members in the European Parliament who openly deny the Holocaust and express Nazi sympathies. Some were concerned that these same members may try to stop the work against anti-Semitism by joining the group and undermining the work from within. However, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has expressed his personal support for the working group.

However there are also other internal problems. Some of the members who had been approached made it clear that they would only consider joining the group if the words “Israel” and “Zionism” were never mentioned.

Only two days after the inaugural meeting, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,took a similar stand when he stated in a UN meeting in Vienna that “Zionism (along with Islamophobia, Nazism and anti-Semitism) is a crime against humanity.” A week later, twenty members of the European Parliament signed a letter condemning the remark, stating: “As a fellow democracy, we in the European Union must support Israel against those who challenge the country´s very existence.”

In a press conference following the EU Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, 11th March, EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, condemned the remarks, but only after having been asked a direct question by a journalist. "Those remarks said by anybody would be unacceptable to the EU, now and forever," she said, but explained that she had not heard the comment herself so could not know exactly what he had said.

EU Foreign Policy Chief wants to label settlement goods

Brussels – The EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, has taken a controversial stand, by calling upon member states to label Israeli goods produced beyond the pre-1967 lines, including in East Jerusalem.

The letter echoes the statement from an earlier memorandum by EU Consuls General in Jerusalem where they stated that “Israeli settlements remain the main obstacles to peace.” The report recommended that the EU curb trade with Israelis located beyond the Green Line, and cease giving them financial support. It even suggested that “radical” settlement activists be banned from entering the EU.

In a press conference in Brussels on March 7th, Israeli President, Shimon Peres, corrected the EU leaders by noting that “terror is the main obstacle to peace, not settlements.”

The European Commission has been working on labelling Israeli goods for some time, but need permission from the 27 EU member state governments to put this into action. It seems unlikely at the moment that the EU foreign ministers will reach unanimity on these issues, as many governments are against the anti-Israeli policies in Brussels.

The Arab League began its boycott of Zionist goods back in 1945 and later created a Central Boycott Office to ensure minimal Arab contact with Israel.

Please read Tomas Sandell’s op-ed in the Times of Israel about “Undiplomatic EU-diplomats” and share with your friends. http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/undiplomatic-eu-diplomats/

ECI to strengthen relations with church and youth

Helsinki – ECI is only as strong as its constituency, and this mostly consists of Christians in Europe who want to stand with Israel in prayer, education and advocacy. Entering this new season, we will need the support and partnership of local churches more than ever.

In the last few weeks, ECI has made efforts to strengthen its presence amongst young believers. On the first weekend in February, ECI and its team in Finland, presented the case for Israel to a youth conference in Espoo. Ina Litma, one of the emerging ECI leaders, led the workshop by explaining that we have the legal facts on our side. By going through the legal arguments for Israel, the young audience received much useful material.

Furthermore, in neighbouring Sweden, ECI has become more active. On March 5th, ECI Sweden was formalised, as a small steering committee was put in place. ECI has the backing of many of the major Bible-believing leaders in the country. Their hope is that our organisation can become a platform to unite Christian support for Israel and present it in a relevant fashion, for both decision makers and opinion shapers.

If you are a pastor or a lay leader in a church, please consider how your church could partner with ECI in this next season.