ECI Holocaust Memorial appeals to Putin to open archives

Brussels, January28th, 2014 - In an Ecumenical Holocaust Memorial Service in Brussels on Monday ECI director Tomas Sandell appealed to Russian PresidentVladimir Putin to open the remaining archives in Russia to enable researchers to determine the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews at the end of WW2. Wallenberg was later captured by the Soviet forces never to be seen again. However, nobody has been able to finally determine his fate.

This year will mark the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Hungarian Jews and the Holocaust memorial was organized only one day prior to the arrival of President Putin in Brussels for bilateral meetings with the EU-leaders in Brussels today Tuesday.

- Whilst we remember the victims of the Holocaust we should also remember and honour those who laid down their lives to save Jews, such as Raoul Wallenberg, Sandell said at the event. But honouring someone does not give us the right to abandon them. As long as the fate of Raoul Wallenberg remains unsolved we have a moral duty to find the answers, he said.

Louise von Dardel, the niece of Raoul Wallenberg, was a guest of honour at the event. After the memorial Sandell, von Dardel and ECI UN director Gregory Lafitte met with a high ranking diplomatic advisor to the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy to ask the EU leader to bring up the issue of Raoul Wallenberg with the Russian leader in their talks on Tuesday. A request to meet directly with President Putin was finally turned down on Friday due to the rescheduling of the EU summit which was originally planned to last for two days but which, because of EU pressure, was squeezed in to a half-day meeting. On Monday Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov indirectly accused blamed the EU-leaders for the difficulties to schedule a meeting. But in a parallel development in Moscow the Russian Ombudsman for Human Rights Vladimir Lukin said that "the remaining archives should be opened to ensure that nothing is hidden which could shed light on the fate of Raoul Wallenberg.”

The Ecumenical Holocaust Memorial under the patronage of the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Lรกszlo Surjan, was one of three Holocaust Remembrance Day events in Brussels on Monday.

In the official EU Holocaust Remembrance Day event in the European Parliament, where ECI was one of the co-organizers, EU-leaders, including EP President Martin Schulz and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras warned about the resurgence of anti-Semitism and racism in Europe.  They vowed to do everything in their power to combat these forces of hatred and were applauded by leaders of the Jewish Community, including the President of the World Jewish Congress, Ambassador Ronald Lauder and the President of the European Jewish Congress, Moshe Kantor

27th January is the official Holocaust Remembrance day. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg who was honoured with an auditorium called named after him in the European Parliament.



With this first report of the year, we would like to express our gratitude to all our friends and supporters. ECI could not exist without you. In 2014 we are hoping to further strengthen our links with our constituency by clarifying our vision and mission.

This is who we are and what we do

European Coalition for Israel was founded in 2003 to enhance good relations between Europe and Israel, based on our common Judeo-Christian heritage.

Over the past ten years, ECI has established a credible Christian voice in European and international institutions, such as the EU and the UN, and in many government circles.

It is absolutely essential that we engage with the decision makers of this world so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past by withdrawing from the public sphere at the same time that anti-Semitism is resurging.

It is important that Christians learn about Israel in special church conferences and events, but we also need to be where the decisions are made and opinions are formed. Although it would have been easier for us to stay in our Christian circles, we have consciously decided to go where the battle is fought - in government circles and international institutions.

At ECI, we will do what we can – with your help – to fight anti-Semitism through the ”spiritual lawfare” of prayer, education and advocacy.

With your help, we have already made a difference (see video by clicking HERE) but in the days to come, Israel and the Jewish people will need even more from us, as anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism grow stronger in Europe and around the world. Now is the time to step up our efforts – together. Let us learn from history and take a stand while there is still time.

This is also a good time to consider becoming a regular supporter of ECI or giving a one-time gift for the work of 2014.  Our suggested annual membership fee is 100 Euros for an individual and 500 Euros for a church, but you are of course free to choose your own level.

These are some of our priorities for 2014:

- Holocaust remembrance and raise awareness of new forms of anti-Semitism
- Defend the legal rights of the Jewish people by opposing EU sanctions against the disputed territories
- Pray and Vote: campaign to pray and mobilise Christians to vote in the European elections
- Campaign to mobilise more support for Israel at the UN and in Europe by stressing the positive contribution made by the Jewish people to the international community
- Media work through the televised European Report from the European Parliament and other means
- Training and mentoring of young leaders

UN ready to work with ECI

New York - The UN Secretariat is willing to work with ECI to help get recognition of the Jewish high holidays.

While in New York just before Christmas, ECI was received by the right-hand man of the Chairman of the UN General Assembly, Director Ion Botnaru. Mr Botnaru had been delegated to meet with us by the Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson, who we met last year. In a friendly and constructive meeting, a number of practical solutions were suggested as to how the Jewish high holidays could be recognised by the UN. The UN Secretariat is happy to assist, although the initiative will have to come from the 193 member states.

In separate one-to-one meetings with Permanent Representatives from a record number of UN missions representing the member states, we received support for the idea. One government currently represented in the UN Security Council, openly announced that they had recently changed their policies to reflect the line of the new government, which is also the line of ECI. The same government has expressed its desire to work with ECI and our legal experts, to get balanced background briefings.

Many nations face the same dilemma as, historically, their state departments have been more anti-Israel than the elected leaders. Even in governments where the Prime Minister is pro-Israel, he (or she) may have to face a whole state department bureaucracy which is anti-Israel. One such government told us recently that they need organisations such as ours to offer them a fresh perspective outside of their own structures.

As a small organisation, we are deeply honoured by this level of appreciation and trust. It is easy to stand aside and curse governments and international institutions, but by engaging directly with them we can make a difference.

International Holocaust Sunday 26th January

One of the areas where ECI may have made the greatest impact is Holocaust remembrance. In 2005, we initiated and organised the first Holocaust Memorial in the European Parliament. Last year it became an official EU event, hosted by the President of the European Parliament. Today many churches and faith communities across Europe have also heeded our call to honour the victims of the Holocaust in their Sunday service nearest to January 27th (this year it is the 26th) which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This year we are once again teaming up with New Zealand photographer and designer, Perry Trotter, to make available video testimonies of Holocaust survivors. These testimonies are some of the best ways to honour the victims of the Holocaust and raise awareness of the deadly poison of anti-Semitism. Please make plans to show at least one of these short but powerful videos at your own Holocaust event on Sunday, 26th January.
For more information click HERE.
For a recent study on anti-Semitism in Europe click HERE.

ECI Ecumenical Holocaust Memorial in Brussels and other ECI events

Brussels -In the first week of December, ECI met with the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Laszlo Surjan, in Brussels to discuss, among other things, the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. The meeting was organised in collaboration with the Chairman of the Pentecostal European Fellowship, Arto Hamalainen.

Dr. Surjan is responsible for the European Parliament dialogue with the religious communities and he encouraged the Christian communities to become more involved in the EU. One such example is Holocaust Remembrance. At the meeting, it was agreed that ECI would organise an Ecumenical Holocaust Memorial in Brussels on Monday, 27th January, under the patronage of Vice-President Surjan and in cooperation with the Pentecostal European Fellowship and other Christian organisations. Please send us a note if you would like to receive a personal invitation to this event. There will also be other events organised in London, Berlin and Helsinki. Please send us an email for more information: info@ec4i.org


European Prayer Summit in Hotel Silken Berlaymont, Brussels, 21st -23rd March, 2014

For the past twelve years, Christians from all corners of Europe have met in Brussels to pray for their own governments and for Israel. At no time has such a prayer conference been more needed than right now.

The ministry of ECI has always been ”prayer driven”, meaning that we believe in the power of prayer to stand in the gap for our nations and for Israel.

The conference is a time for us as a leadership team to share what we sense are the greatest challenges and opportunities of the year and then pray. The leadership team includes among others Rick and Patti Ridings, Harald Eckert, Tomas Sandell, David Adeola, Bedros Nassanian, Lennart Fjell and Antti Hamalainen.

Our new venue for the Prayer conference is Hotel Silken Berlaymont, just a stone's throw from the European Commission. More information on the Prayer Summit will follow shortly in a separate email.

Editor Tomas Sandell tomas.sandell@pp.inet.fi


Learn from History campaign 2014

Brussels, January 7th, 2014 - The recent rise of anti-Semitism in Europe has challenged European lawmakers as they are faced with new forms of anti-Semitism which are difficult to regulate under existing laws. The new Nazi-style salute, the so-called ”quenelle”, popularised by French comedian Dieudonne, is a good example.

Whereas in recent years anti-Semitism and racism have been a problem primarily among football supporters in the stands, they have now found their way down to the centre field, with some high-earning professionals making the quenelle salute in front of millions of TV viewers. Given their high visibility and position as role models for the younger generation, this spells further trouble for Europe.

Whilst the true meaning of the salute continues to be hotly debated, the person behind the gesture, Dieudonne, has been convicted seven times for inciting hatred against Jews and may well be on the way to his eighth trial. This time, it will be for implying that a Jewish journalist belongs in a gas chamber. French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, has stated that the quenelle salute is a gesture of hatred and anti-Semitism and that it breaches French anti-hate laws.

‘The best way to counter this new rise in anti-Semitism is through education’, says ECI Executive Director Tomas Sandell in Brussels.

Today ECI, in collaboration with Shadows of Shoah, is launching its annual educational campaign ‘Learn from History’ with newly- released videos of Holocaust survivors  sharing their own testimonies in short, but powerful, black and white videos. Using black and white imagery and original music, survivors' experiences are presented in a concise and compelling format. The work seeks to present powerful and evocative art, while carefully maintaining historical accuracy.

‘The genuine testimonies of surviving victims of the Holocaust become increasingly important at a time when  media personalities such as Dieudonne and a growing number of European parliamentarians have either openly denied the existence of the Holocaust, or simply trivialised its meaning’, says Sandell.

For many years, ECI has worked with local churches and faith communities in Europe to honour the victims of the Holocaust and raise awareness of new forms of anti-Semitism. This year, Holocaust Sunday will fall on January 26th, just one day before the UN- sponsored Holocaust Remembrance Day.

ECI will be organising its own ecumenical Holocaust Memorial Service in Brussels on Monday, 27th January, and will join the official EU Holocaust Remembrance Day event later in the evening. There will be other key ECI events organised in Brussels, Helsinki, Berlin and London. Local churches and faith communities everywhere are encouraged to make use of the video material for their own meetings on Sunday, 26th January.

Background information

International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th is an international memorial for the victims of the Holocaust - the genocide that resulted in the annihilation of 6 million Jews. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/7 on November 1st, 2005. The resolution came after a special session was held earlier that year on January 24th, 2005, during which the United Nations General Assembly marked the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps at the end of the Holocaust.

ECI initiated and organised the first Holocaust Remembrance Day in the European Parliament in Brussels in 2005. It has today become an official EU event to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.

Shadows of Shoah is the work of New Zealand photographer, composer and designer Perry Trotter.  The Shadows of Shoah exhibition was officially launched by the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt .Hon John Key, at a Holocaust Remembrance Day event in January 2013.