As we file this month’s report we have just marked the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. As world leaders gathered in Auschwitz and around the world, they agreed on one thing: the fight against anti-Semitism is not limited to an annual commemoration event. The real work begins when we return home and resume our daily lives. In ECI, we have been engaged in this battle since 2003 but the stakes have never been higher. Thank you for strengthening our work in prayer and financial giving in 2015.

ECI Chairman asks for forgiveness for 1800 years of Christian anti-Semitism

Krakow - The 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was marked with a special Concert of Commemoration in the Tempel Synagogue of Krakow on the evening of January 27th. The event was hosted by ECI and the local Jewish community and the musical performance was given by Cantor Itzchak Horovitz and by KolorBach, a unique ensemble from Paris who combine Jewish klezmer music with the works of Bach.

Before the war, Krakow had a thriving Jewish community of some 60,000 people who made up one quarter of the total population. Today that community amounts to only 500 people, as most Jews were murdered in the concentration camp in Auschwitz, just one hour from the city.

70 years on, Christians from all over the world returned to Krakow to ask for forgiveness for Christian passivity towards the atrocities of the Holocaust and to recommit to standing with the Jewish people and the State of Israel today and in the future.

In a moving ceremony in the synagogue, ECI Chairman Harald Eckert (in the picture with David Harris) started the evening by publicly asking for forgiveness for 1,800 years of Christian anti-Semitism. In the first row were representatives of the local Jewish community, among them Tadeusz Jakubowicz, the current leader of the Jewish community and a Holocaust survivor.

Harald Eckert is the initiator of the Global Prayer Call, a campaign of 100 days of prayer and fasting, reaching out to the Christian community with an appeal to stand against the current tide of anti-Semitism which is now more acute than at any other time since the Holocaust. Many have already responded to the call. Leaders had come to the four day conference in Krakow all the way from Australia, South Korea, Singapore, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, USA and Brazil to stand with the Jewish people during this new season.

In his keynote speech at the concert event, Executive Director David Harris of the American Jewish Committee noted that anti-Semitism is not only an issue of the past but a plague which is once again sweeping across Europe. He acknowledged that while national governments today try to protect the Jewish people, many are still afraid and are considering leaving Europe.

‘The only difference between now and the late 1930´s, is the existence of the State of Israel. If the nations were to fail us, we now have a Jewish state’, he said. ‘One can only imagine how many Jewish lives could have been saved it this had been the case in 1938’.

The event was attended by diplomats from many nations. The Canadian delegation was headed by Minister of Multi-Culturalism, Tim Uppal. In his greeting, he reiterated the unwavering support of the Canadian Government for the State of Israel.
‘Today’s anti-Semitism is often disguised as anti-Israelism, but when the calls to boycott Israeli goods are heard all over again, it is nothing but the old anti-Semitism’, he said.

World leaders ponder how to stop anti-Semitism

Prague - Europe could soon be entering another dark age if we do not take action in time against the rising tide of anti-Semitism and political extremism. This was the universal message of the symposium entitled ”Let my people live”, organised in Prague on January 26th and 27th  by the European Union, the Czech Government and the European Jewish Congress. In several panel discussions with distinguished opinion shapers such as Bernard-Henri Levy, Irwin Cotler and Alan Dershowitz, the speakers tried to answer the question of what could be done to stop anti-Semitism in time?

Abraham Foxman from the Anti-Defamation League in New York noted that few people reacted when five Jews were gunned down in Toulouse in 2012 or when another four Jews were killed in Brussels in May last year.  ‘The four million who marched in the streets of France did not march for the Jews’, he said. Some even marched for the Palestinian cause. Others, such as Bernard-Henri Levy, noted that this time the political leadership in France is standing firmly with the Jewish people, not against them. ‘The threat does not come from the Government, but from certain elements of the people on the street.’

‘Let us skip political correctness and spell it out loud and clear: we have a problem with radical Islam on the one hand and neo-Nazism on the other’ EJC President Moshe Kantor stated.

The panellists had different views on what could be done to stop anti-Semitism. Many asked for legislation against incitement to hatred and violence, whilst others felt that civil society should regulate itself and freedom of speech should be protected at all costs.

The absolute low point in the discussion came when the Chairman of the Turkish Parliament, Cemil Cicek, turned his attention to the situation in Gaza and criticised the Israeli Government instead of acknowledging the rise of anti-Semitism which has been partly sponsored by his own government.

Sandell calls for new EU crisis summit in Brussels

Prague - Tomas Sandell was invited to represent ECI at the symposium in Prague where he met with the First Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans (picture). Timmermans has recently stated that ”there is no Europe without the Jews.” At the meeting he reiterated his concern over the rise of anti-Semitism and political extremism in Europe. During the meeting Sandell officially asked the European Commission to call together a crisis conference to address the threat of growing anti-Semitism. The request will be considered by the European Commission.

The last time the European Commission organised a conference on anti-Semitism was in 2004, when Elie Wiesel called for non-Jews to join the Jewish people in standing against anti-Semitism. A few months later, ECI hosted its first annual conference in Brussels.

In the evening, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, welcomed all the 38 speakers of national parliaments who were attending the ceremony.  ‘But I want to welcome one person in particular’, he said, and turned to Yuli Edelstein, the Israeli Speaker of the Knesset. In his speech President Schulz explained why he as a German and a European is committed to the safety and security of the State of Israel. In his first speech as President of the European Parliament at the ECI co-sponsored Holocaust Remembrance Day event in 2012, he stated that his most important task as President of the European Parliament would be to stand up for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.


The answer to anti-Semitism is Israel

For those who listened carefully to the speeches at the various commemoration events last week, one word was missing - Israel.  Whilst most leaders came out strongly in support of the Jewish communities in Europe, many of them also tried to distance the Jewish people from the Jewish state. When I presented myself to a senior EU leader in Prague on Monday evening as ”Director of the European Coalition for Israel”, his immediate reaction was ”And what does Israel have to do with any of this?”. The man was referring to the rise of anti-Semitism.  The reaction is typical of many political leaders in Europe who want to differentiate between Israel and the Jews in Europe. As much as there is a difference, the links are also crystal clear.

The truth of the matter is that millions of Jews would be alive today if there had been a Jewish state in 1938, as promised by the League of Nations in 1922.

In the 1930´s, before the Final Solution, Hitler wanted to send the Jews back to Palestine. But Palestine was closed to Jews and no other nation was willing to receive them.

As a record number of Jews are leaving France and other parts of Europe because they no longer feel safe, Israel is providing them with a safe haven. As much as the European Government has a responsibility to make Europe safe for Jews, it has an equally important role in supporting the State of Israel as a national home for the Jews. But as the rise of anti-Semitism continues in Europe, the European Commission is planning new measures to weaken the Jewish state by introducing boycotts of Israeli goods from the disputed territories and continuing its generous financial assistance of the Palestinian Authority despite its widespread corruption, incitement and disrespect for fundamental human rights.

It is a European imperative to stand strongly beside the State of Israel, as our only ally in the Middle East which shares our values and principles.  In 2015, ECI will continue to strengthen the case for Israel the Jewish people by engaging in dialogue and by articulating your support at the highest political level at the EU and at the UN. Will you help us?

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

Copyright (c) European Coalition for Israel