European Coalition marks 10th Anniversary in support of Israel

Brussels, 15th November, 2013 – In the aftermath of the 75th Anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass, a more recent anniversary was marked in the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, when the European Coalition for Israel celebrated its 10th Anniversary in the EU capital. The conference “EU-Israel - Which way forward” reviewed EU-Israeli relations since the Yom Kippur War of 1973, in the light of the proposed EU guidelines for the disputed territories. The new guidelines forbid EU grants, prizes and loans from going not just to Israeli entities located beyond the Green Line, but also to Israeli entities that have any activities beyond the post-1967 lines.

‘Europe is losing the streets in Israel,’ warned Israeli diplomat David Saranga, who spoke at the conference. ‘There is no vacuum, so if Europe continues to make life difficult for Israel, chances are that Israel will start looking in other directions for cooperation,’ he said.

ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker pointed to the Yom Kippur War in 1973 as a watershed moment for EU-Israeli relations. It was then, that for the first time, the European Community formulated a common position on the Arab-Israeli conflict. They declared the disputed territories to be illegal under international law, and recognised the rights of the Palestinians to their own state within the 1949 Armistice Lines. Tucker suggested that it was the oil embargo which followed the Yom Kippur War and the threats of terrorism which were the main explanations for the sudden European change of heart and political direction.

Historian Bat Ye’or pointed to the Venice Declaration of 1980 and the Euro-Arab dialogue as a consolidation of the new European policy. This was when, for commercial reasons, the European Community aligned itself with the narrative of the Arab League. The EU guidelines are a direct consequence of these earlier policy decisions, argued Tucker and Bat Ye’or.

MEP Sari Essayah criticised the European External Action Service (EEAS) for singling out Israel and overstepping its boundaries by issuing the controversial guidelines at a time when the European Parliament was about to leave on holiday and the political institutions of Europe were closing for the summer.

‘This goes against every principle of good governance and democracy,’ she said. ‘Why did the EEAS not have any consultations with the only democratically elected institution in the EU - the European Parliament - and why is Israel singled out again, whereas other states with disputed territories, such as Morocco, are never questioned?’ she continued. Essayah also criticised the timing of the guidelines, which were issued the very same week as the US Foreign Secretary John Kerry had managed to re-start the peace talks.

The timeline of the EU guidelines has been highly criticised by another senior MEP, Elmar Brok, the Chairman of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post in July, he called the timing of the issuing of the guidelines “catastrophic” and accused the EU bureaucracy of being divorced from the rest of the world. According to Brok, the guidelines can be counterproductive for Europe, since Israel is a leading nation in research and innovation. Elmar Brok spoke at the conference, where he emphasised that the new challenge for Israel is to win the media war. In other words, Israel needs to win back the streets of Europe.

The EEAS Deputy Head of Mission, Jerome Cassiers, attended the conference in order to compile a report for the High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, who is ultimately responsible for the guidelines. In his speech, he defended the guidelines by saying that they were not an act of legislation but had been issued on the explicit orders of the European Council (The EU Foreign Ministers) in accordance with the conclusions of their December 2012 summit. The guidelines were issued in preparation for the renewal of the next round of EU programmes, especially the 80 billion Euro flagship programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020. Israel is the only non-EU member to be part of the programme. He defended the guidelines as being in compliance with EU policy and international law. He hoped that negotiations with the Israeli Government would lead to pragmatic solutions which will not harm EU-Israeli trade relations. But he also reiterated that the settlements are obstacles to peace.

ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell closed the conference by stating that settlements are not obstacles to peace, but in full compliance with international law, as stated in Article 15 of the Mandate for Palestine. This states that “No discrimination shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the sole grounds of race, religion or language.”
He reiterated the concerns expressed by Andrew Tucker, that Jews could be expelled from the territories promised to them in the San Remo Resolution of 1920 and the Mandate for Palestine of 1922.

‘Palestinian leader, Mahmud Abbas, has stated that there can be no Jews in a future Palestinian state, and we have not heard any protests from the High Representative,’ he noted. He went on to say that incitement to hatred is the real obstacle to peace and has to be stopped in order to achieve peace. The EU urgently needs to address this issue.

In his speech, he presented the contours of a new EU policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict, which better reflects European values. ‘There is still only one state in the whole region of the Middle East, which shares and abides by these values, and that is Israel. It is now high time that the EU also recognises this fact, and states it publicly.’

The conference ended with Andrew Tucker and Tomas Sandell handing an Open letter to Mr. Cassiers and Mr. Brok, respectively representing the High Representative and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. The letter urges the EU to rescind the proposed guidelines, and urgently review the EU’s policy with regard to Palestinian statehood and the disputed territories.

The open letter which is signed by over 20 prominent European political leaders, among them government ministers, will continue to circulate throughout the month of November.

The conference was hosted by MEP Hannu Takkula and also included speeches by historian Kelvin Crombie, former Deputy Director General of the European Commission,Karel Kovanda, as well as journalist Simon Barrett.



ECI celebrates 10 years and prepares for the future

Brussels - In just a little more than a week, on November 13th, ECI will host its 10th Anniversary Policy Conference in Brussels.  Ten years marks a certain level of maturity but the journey does not stop here. As the challenges facing Israel continue to grow, we at ECI will have to step up our efforts, adapt and rethink our strategies.

The last few years have been truly dynamic in that we have gained new ground and trust with our partners. We are today interacting on a professional level, not only with the European Union, but also with national governments and international organisations such as the United Nations. This would have been unthinkable ten years ago.

We are truly grateful for these first ten years. They would not have been possible without your help and prayer. As the work grows and expands, we will look for additional ways to connect with you and build community. We do realise that only a fraction of those who receive this newsletter can attend the 10th Anniversary, given that it falls on a weekday and that the European Parliament has only limited space.

We hope to be able to share some of the conference highlights in the form of a video. The next Prayer Conference, which will take place during the weekend of March 21st-23rd, 2014, will allow for more people to attend. Please mark the date, as that conference will help launch us into the next ten years.

Open Letter against EU directives gains momentum

Brussels - In less than two months, on January 1st, 2014, the EU guidelines for the disputed territories will come into effect unless they are stopped in time or revised. The guidelines would stop any EU grants, prizes and financial instruments for Israeli entities in the disputed territories, including East Jerusalem. You can read the EU guidelines HERE. During the whole month of November, ECI will collect names of political leaders who object to the proposed guidelines.

In an eight-page Open Letter, we are asking the EU “to rescind the guidelines and urgently review its policy with regard to Palestinian statehood and the disputed territories.” In the first week since its launch, the letter has already been endorsed by several members of the European Parliament, national parliaments, a former foreign minister of an EU member state and a vice-chair of a national parliament. We hope to have between twenty and thirty prominent members of parliament or government supporting our letter. Please let us know as soon as possible if you have suggestions of people in this category who could sign the letter.

At a recent conference in the European Parliament on the special relationship between Romania and Israel during the Cold War (Romania never broke off diplomatic relations with Israel even though all the other communist countries did), one of the members from a former communist country who is today an MEP asserted: “If Romania was able to disregard the dictate from the Kremlin at the time of the Communist regime and its feared Red Army, we should today be able to ignore the guidelines from the European Commission.”

The EU guidelines contradict the very values of the EU, namely transparency and good governance, since they were developed in great secrecy and launched at a time when all parliaments were to go on recess. Now it is high time for the EU member states and their governments, parliaments and citizens to take back power from non-elected bureaucrats in Brussels. The Middle East is too sensitive to be left in the hands of anonymous and unaccountable EU civil servants.

The letter will first be presented at the ECI Conference next week, but we will continue to collect names throughout the month of November. In December, the letter will be presented to the governments of the EU member states.

Unbelievable but true:
75th anniversary of Kristallnacht marked by new boycotts against Jewish businesses! 

Brussels - In just a few days, on November 9th, the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, will be marked by events throughout Europe.

The current times in Europe are not all that different from the 1930´s when the calls to boycott Jewish businesses led to the Night of Broken Glass.

As we have pointed out in a previous article, we are still hearing calls today to boycott Jewish businesses and people are questioning the right of the Jews to live where they choose. I am referring to EU guidelines as well as other EU initiatives to start marking Israeli goods produced in the disputed territories.

As Christians, we need to be diligent in not repeating the mistakes of our forefathers. Today the threats are not limited to just one country as in the past, but are led by a global campaign of divestment and boycott, with many historical churches also playing a major role. Churches and Christians now have to decide what side of history they want to be on.

European church leaders representing millions of Christians endorse ECI

As the diplomatic war against Israel is stepping up and many Christian leaders are joining the campaign, we are happy to announce the endorsements of several Christian leaders who have decided to stand on the side of truth and justice. Among the Christian leaders who publicly support ECI, is the new Chairman of Pentecostal European Fellowship, Arto Hämäläinen. PEF represents several millions of European Christians. In their recent board meeting, the decision was taken to recognise ECI as one of its partners in supporting the Jewish people. Other influential Christian leaders who openly support ECI are Ulf Ekman

If you are a church leader, please consider partnering in prayer and financial giving with ECI in your biblical ministry to support the Jewish people. If you are not from the continent of Europe, you are just as welcome. The enemies of Israel are engaged in a global battle against the land. Friends of Israel need to work together in a new way
We are happy to announce that the 10th Anniversary will be followed by a Pastor’s Conference. In the coming years, ECI will strengthen its links with local and national churches.

With anti-Semitism on the rise: 
Time to prepare for Holocaust Remembrance Sunday

Brussels - At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise and openly neo-Nazi parties and Holocaust deniers win seats in national parliaments in Europe, it is important to keep reminding ourselves of what happened in our continent just one generation ago. This is particularly important for the younger generations, who have no emotional connection with the horrors of the past. As one young leader explained it  -  The Holocaust is just as relevant to us as the French Revolution.

For the last 8 years, ECI has marked Holocaust Day with an event in the European Parliament and has encouraged churches worldwide to mark the day in their Sunday church services.

ECI will organise its own event in Brussels and will partner with two major events in London and Berlin. Please let us know if you wish to organise your own event. We encourage each church to mark Sunday 26th January as Holocaust Remembrance Sunday. More info will follow in next month’s report.

ECI Media work expands and reach new audiences

Brussels - Ten years ago, when ECI got started, nobody had ever heard of YouTube, Facebook or Twitter.  It was expensive and complicated to produce audiovisual material and its dissemination was even more difficult. Ten years later we live in a completely different media world where a whole generation follows news and watches videos on their smartphones.

In ECI, we are adapting to this new media landscape in a number of ways.

- We are communicating daily with an online community on Facebook.  Our ECI Group has more than 10,200 members and we share articles and discuss current issues. Please join the conversation HERE or like us on Facebook HERE. We are also active on Twitter where we have two ECI accounts, one dealing with the UN and another one with the EU. You can join our Twitter accounts HERE and HERE.

- For the last year, with British journalist Simon Barrett, we have produced a monthly talk show called European Report. In this programme, which is produced in the studio of the European Parliament in Brussels, we discuss current issues facing Israel with members of European Parliament, experts and diplomats. You can watch the monthly talk show on Revelation TV and later, with subtitles, on TV7 in Finland and Alpha and Omega in Romania. We are currently negotiating with additional TV channels in several new countries. You can also watch a 30-minute version of the programme on TV7 HERE.

In the coming years, we will focus even more on improving our communication and interaction with you by providing more content and ways to connect with us. Despite all the changes, we will keep and improve our Monthly Reports. In addition to these communication tools, we look forward to many more opportunities to also meet you in person!