ECI Conference

ECI Conference Calls for Immediate EU Action for Persecuted Religious Minorities in the Middle East and a Stop to Anti-Semitism in Europe

Brussels, November 24th, 2014 - The European Coalition for Israel has issued a joint statement to the incoming President of the European Council and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, calling for immediate action in support of the persecuted religious minorities in Syria and Iraq and for a coherent strategy against the surge of anti-Semitism in Europe. EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, took office on November 1 and the incoming President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, will assume office on December 1.

On Thursday, November 20, 2014, the statement was read and handed over to the Director of the EU European External Action Service (EEAS), Christian Berger, in connection with the ECI 11th Annual Policy Conference in the European Parliament in Brussels. The letter, which calls for internationally monitored safe havens for the persecuted minorities in Syria and Iraq, is co-signed by the European Jewish Congress, Pentecostal European Fellowship, and One Free World International, making it a unique cooperation between Christians and Jews in support of religious freedom.

ECI Director, Tomas Sandell, noted at the conference that one of the few voices, which has been raised up in support for the persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq, has come from the Jewish community. When the world at large has kept silent, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, has repeatedly raised the issue at the UN level. In Brussels, Raya Kalenova, the Executive Vice-President of the European Jewish Congress, signed the joint statement. At the conference, she spoke about the importance of the moral support from Christians friends in Europe.

“Whereas each day of Jewish life in Europe is filled with uncertainty and security considerations, here I feel among friends”, she said. Kalenova, who spoke about the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, agreed that it is high time that we address the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

The joint statement was also signed by Egyptian-born, Human Rights activist Majed El Shafie, who expressed the need to stand together against the forces that want to erase religious freedom. Today, he is the Founding President of the organization One Free World International which works for religious liberty around the world. At the conference, he spoke about his life as a former dissident in Egypt, and how he found refuge in Israel. Having been brought up believing Israel was the enemy, today he is a friend of the Jewish state because of its values and principles, which protects minorities in a region where oppression is the norm.

The policy conference, which brought together EU lawmakers and officials with ECI activists from different parts of Europe, also made a call to the EU to stop the funding of hate. In his panel discussion with Christian Berger (EEAS director for the Middle East), Sandell noted that the EU is the single largest donor to the PA, and therefore needs to make the funding conditional on the end of incitement. He noted that the brutal killing of the four rabbis in the synagogue in Jerusalem on Tuesday was preceded by a call from PA leader Mahmoud Abbas for “a day of rage.”

“Incitement leads to action and those who fuel incitement need to be made accountable,” said Sandell. Berger agreed that education is the key to the peace process in the Middle East.

The conference noted the untimely vote in the Spanish Parliament that supported a Palestinian state, just a few hours after the massacre in Jerusalem.
“We cannot fight terror in Syria and Iraq, and put it in to government in Ramallah”, Sandell continued and was supported by Majed El Shafie who called Isis and Hamas, “the same expression of the one and the same hateful ideology of radical Islam.” Hamas, which has praised the recent massacre in Jerusalem, is currently a coalition partner of Fatah in the PA unity government.  A similar vote in the European Parliament is expected on Thursday of this week.

The conference, which was hosted by Dutch MEP Bastiaan Belder, also featured Swedish MEP Lars Adaktusson, Slovak MEP Branislav Skripek, ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker, and Israeli Deputy Ambassador Ronen Gil-Or, who all spoke up for the persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in Middle East and the need to stand together with Jews in Europe and Israel.

ECI Chairman, Harald Eckert from Germany, concluded the conference by stating that Europe has a moral duty to teach the world about the ultimate consequences of anti-Semitism.
“Seventy years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps in Europe, this educational campaign needs to be strengthened both in Europe and in the Middle East”, he concluded.


ECI condemns the massacre in Jerusalem - and calls upon the EU to review its funding to the PA

Brussels, 19th November 2014 - As the European Coalition for Israel is preparing for its 11th Annual Policy Conference in Brussels, which will address the volatile situation in the Middle East, it has issued a statement condemning the massacre of the four Jewish rabbis who were brutally murdered in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, while they were praying in their local synagogue. ECI calls upon the European Union to immediate halt its funding to the PA, as long as the incitement to violence continues by the Palestinian leadership. In 2005, during one of the first European Parliament policy conferences, ECI brought attention to the Palestinian mismanagement of the EU funding and called for an immediate review. The EU later froze the funding temporarily, quoting arguments made in the ECI policy paper.

On Tuesday, ECI Director Tomas Sandell renewed his call for a review of EU funding to the PA, as he addressed the recent massacre in the European Report TV - programme from the European Parliament. He noted that the killing came after an intensified Palestinian campaign of incitement, calling for a day of rage in Jerusalem. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly warned against any Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, calling it a “contamination” of the holy site. On Wednesday, Abbas condemned the terrorist attack, but only after having been pressed by US Secretary of State John Kerry to do so.

There have been wide condemnations of the terrorist attack from all parts of the world, some citing incitement as the root cause for the violence against Jews.  Many organisations are now demanding greater responsibility by the EU, as the single largest donor of aid to the Palestinian authority.

On Thursday, ECI will renew its call for a full revision of the EU aid to the Palestinian territories, making the aid conditional on a cessation of the incitement.  The conference, which takes place on Thursday and Friday, will bring together European lawmakers and officials with ECI activists from all corners of Europe.



High Alert in Israel, the Middle East - and Europe

Brussels - As we finalise this month’s report, we can read in the media about a new wave of terror attacks in Israel as well as the continued genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. Still, the international capitals of the world, including Brussels, remain silent.

The silence and passivity of the international community to the sufferings of Christians and Jews in the Middle East, as well as the growing threat to Europe are key topics for our upcoming Annual Policy Conference next week. Now is the time to raise our voices and take action together. If you cannot join us in person next week, there is still an opportunity for you to support the work, which enables us to raise this voice. Our action is needed now.

Raising a Red Flag in Stockholm: Nordic Ministers Reject Joint Recognition of PA State

Stockholm - The last week of October, the international campaign of lawfare against Israel reached a critical tipping point. Although the Swedish minority government announced its recognition of a PA state on Thursday the 30th of October, it did so in splendid isolation. Not only did the decision lack the support of a parliamentary majority at home in Stockholm, Nordic neighbours flatly rejected the Swedish campaign to have all Nordic countries recognise a Palestinian state in unison.  If one government came out isolated, it was the Swedish government, which remains the only EU Member State to date to have recognised a PA state; thus, breaking with an EU decision to work for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a pledge not to engage with the terrorist organisation Hamas.

Although the British vote in the House of Commons in favour of recognising a PA state on the 13th of October was disappointing, it does not change the position of the current British government, which remains committed to its obligations under international law.

As a small organisation with limited resources, ECI decided to concentrate on the fight in our own backyard: the Nordic countries. The Swedish decision was, in contrast to the British vote, a governmental decree, hence determining the official stance of Sweden. But, Sweden is important mainly as part of a broader Nordic block, not on its own. At the UN, the Nordic countries are seen by many as humanitarian super powers and trendsetters, despite being relatively small countries. (Two of the first UN Secretary Generals were Scandinavians.) If the other Nordic countries had followed the Swedish decision, it would have been disastrous indeed.

Nordic Council ministersFor this reason, ECI chose to mobilize support in the Nordic countries and to be on site in Stockholm when the Nordic Council (The regional organisation of the Nordic countries) met for its annual session; and, the Swedish government attempted one last time to convince its Nordic colleagues to follow their example. They refused ? for now.

The same week, ECI hosted the first-ever Nordic Israel Breakfast in connection with the Nordic Council annual session; and, a new Nordic Israel friendship group was announced.  As a result, the friends of Israel in the Nordic countries have come out of the recent crisis more motivated, more empowered, and also more aware of the need to come out strongly in support of Israel.

ECI continues to monitor the situation in the other EU Member States.

UN Yom Kippur Talks Continue - in Geneva & Vienna

Geneva - At the same time as the issue of UN recognition of Yom Kippur is being debated in the Fifth Committee at the UN in New York, ECI is also raising the issue at other UN headquarters around the world. Last week, ECI UN Director Gregory Lafitte met with senior officials of the UN Offices in Geneva and Vienna to discuss how recognition of Yom Kippur could be implemented in these European capitals of the UN.

The UN Secretariat has taken a pro-active approach in working together with ECI to try to find a practical solution to add Yom Kippur as a UN holiday. By engaging constructively with the UN structure, we have been able to move things forward. A new visit to the UN headquarters in New York will take place in the first week of December.

From Brussels - To the Ends of the Earth

Brussels - The influence of ECI and its partner organisations is not limited to Europe, though Europe remains our home base and main focus at all times. In the last few weeks, ECI Chairman Harald Eckert has travelled around the world in order to raise awareness of the need for each nation to stand with Israel during this critical time. In the last two weeks of October, meetings were organized in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Fiji Island, Brazil and Mexico.

In the same way as Germany (and Europe) had a global influence for evil in the 1930´s and 40´s, today, we can choose to have a positive influence. This is the core vision of ECI; and, its activities around the world.

Harald Eckert´s message has been well-received. In the Pacific Island of Fiji, the visit was very timely, as the question of the nation´s support for Israel at the UN has been questioned for the first time in their national capital. The support of the Pacific Islands at the UN has been a source of great encouragement for Israel for many years; and, the visit by Harald Eckert encouraged the island to remain steadfast in its support and to not change course.

In a Muslim nation which Eckert visited, he was asked to come back in order to speak on national television.

This is all part of the Global Prayer Call, which encourages Christians to pray for their government to support Israel and recommit to their responsibility to stand up for the Jewish people in connection with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The 100 day campaign will start with a conference in Krakow, Poland from the 25th-29th of January and end with a conference in Jerusalem from the 10th -13th of May. Please read more about the campaign and the upcoming conferences.

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