During our short history of eleven years I can think of no other time more crucial to the security of the Jewish people and the State of Israel than this year. Please prayerfully consider helping us financially at this critical time so that we can step up our advocacy efforts.

BDS gains momentum but campaigners admit growing influence of ECI!

Helsinki - While the peace talks are entering a final phase and US State Secretary John Kerry is expected to present his framework peace agreement imminently, the pressure on Israel to give in to Palestinian demands is growing.  Both the Secretary of State and the EU leaders are now warning of Israel’s growing isolation if the peace talks fail. According to them a failed peace process is automatically to be blamed on Israel and Israel alone.

In recent months financial institutions and companies in the Netherlands and the Nordic countries have taken the first steps in a coordinated campaign by the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) to divest from any Israeli company or financial institution which has links to the disputed territories. The campaign is well organised in that it has the backing of major media outlets and many of the anti-Israeli NGOs are generously financed by some of the largest private foundations in the world and our tax money! At the forefront of this campaign are a number of Christian development organisations.

In a conference in Helsinki in the first week of February, the head of one such organisation triumphantly announced that the campaign to mark Israeli products from the disputed territories is achieving its objectives. He said that today, fewer supermarkets want Israeli products and the overall export from the territories has decreased by over 14 per cent... But he also pointed out a growing problem. As a result of an ECI-initiated campaign last year, he had received well over 2,000 emails and phone calls to protest their decision to campaign for the marking of Israeli goods from the disputed territories!

This example proves two things: yes, the campaign of boycotts and sanctions is gaining momentum BUT at the same time our message is coming across and our voice is being heard.
The battle of narratives has intensified ? please help us fight back. There has never been a time when your financial support has been more needed than now. Please give generously as we stand for Israel in her time of great need. (You will find payment instructions by clicking the Donate button below.)

Holocaust Memorials send conflicting messages

Brussels - January 27th remains an important day for ECI. On this date in 2005 we organised the first Holocaust Memorial in the European Parliament in Brussels. Today the Memorial has become an official EU event under the patronage of the President of the European Parliament and co-organised by the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress and ECI. This is a remarkable achievement of a small organisation but the official involvement of the EU Parliament also has its downside.

Schulz 2014Although many good statements were made in Brussels on January 27th by Parliament President Martin Schulz and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the word ”Israel” was never mentioned once. This is a sad reflection of a new EU attitude to separate the victims of the Holocaust from the solution to the problem, the modern state of Israel. Or as WJC President Ron Lauder stated: "In the 1930s Jews were not welcome anywhere but today there is one nation which will always keep its door open and that is Israel.” If the EU manages to make Israel irrelevant to the issue of the suffering of the victims of the Holocaust, it is easier to isolate the Jewish state.

Surjan -ecumenicalIn an effort to mobilise Christians in the EU institutions, ECI also organised an Ecumenical Holocaust Memorial in the Chapel of Resurrection in cooperation with the Vice-President of the European Parliament Laszlo Surjan, the Chapel of Resurrection and the Pentecostal European Fellowship. In his statement PEF Chairman Arto Hamalainen acknowledged the need to bless the Jewish people and the modern state of Israel. This was quite a different message from what was heard in the European Parliament but it needs to be heard in the EU capital!

Please watch a video report of the Holocaust Memorials 2014 in Brussels.

In London, an event organised by ECI member Judy Littler Manners to honour Sir Nicholas Winton filled Cadogan Hall in Chelsea in what was probably one of the largest Holocaust memorials in Europe. Among those present were important diplomats, senior church leaders and Jewish leaders. Other important ECI events were organised in Helsinki, Berlin and Munich.

If your church also organised a Holocaust memorial please let us know.

 ECI pressure not in vain:
- European Parliament calls on Russian authorities to open up their archives

Brussels - In the Ecumenical Holocaust Memorial, Tomas Sandell mentioned the need also to commemorate those who laid down their lives to save Jews. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was one such person. At the memorial service, his niece, Louise von Dardel was a guest of honour.

After the memorial von Dardel, Sandell and Gregory Lafitte met with a senior advisor of the European Council, President Herman van Rompuy, and with Members of the European Parliament to ask the EU leaders to raise the issue in their talks with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, the next day. Although it was not possible to meet personally with President Putin, a spokesperson in Moscow acknowledged the request and a Russian ombudsman for human rights stated that “all archives should be made accessible for researchers.”

Wallenberg was captured by the Soviet Army in 1945 never to be seen again. In a resolution on Russia adopted last week in Strasbourg, the European Parliament responded positively to the ECI request by appealing to the Russian authorities:

“20.    to cooperate in opening up Russian archives, enabling access to researchers and declassifying relevant documents that might cast light on the fate of numerous persons who were imprisoned by Soviet security services at the end of World War II, including that of Raoul Wallenberg, who 70 years ago saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from genocide”

Last year marked the centennial of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg. Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of his disappearance. Let us pray that it will also mark the year when his fate is finally determined.

Protest movements turn against the Jews!

Brussels - The rise of anti-government and anti-establishment protests across Europe, from Ukraine to France, has led to an unprecedented rise in anti-Semitism as their anger and frustration turn against the Jews!

A video, taken in Paris on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, shows French protesters chanting openly anti-Semitic slogans and calling on Jews to get out of France.

The same trend can also be seen in other European countries such as Italy, where the popular “Five Star” movement is clearly turning against Israel. In Ukraine, where civil war is brewing, anti-Semitic forces are growing stronger as “Jewish scum” is openly accused for all the problems in the country.

Sadly, we have seen this before in Europe. The problem now is that the rise of anti-Semitism on the streets converges with anti-Israeli activities from many governments and the EU.
To quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’

Today we have the privilege and responsibility to engage in the public sphere. Please help where you can to win this battle for the soul of Europe.

European Prayer Summit, March 21st-23rd, 2014

Please join us for our next European Prayer Summit in Brussels.  There will be a special meeting for Young Leaders prior to the Prayer Summit.  Friday night will be an open multi-lingual prayer and worship event for all our friends in the Brussels region and Belgium. Please e-mail us as soon as possible for more information at info@ec4i.org

If you would like to support the work of The European Coalition for Israel, please click the "Donate" button below and you will find payment details, both for paying online and for bank transfers.

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