As Israel faces a nuclear threat from Iran, diplomatic lawfare as well as boycotts and sanctions, many friends of Israel have become crippled with fear. At ECI we have chosen to respond to these threats, not just by defending Israel but by celebrating Israel!

This is what we mean by ”cultural diplomacy” and a ”positive agenda.” As EU leaders, such as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, has noted recently, the Jews have contributed significantly to our civilisation and continue to do so. To quote Mogherini: ’Europe without the Jews would no longer be Europe.’ The same is true for the UN: there would probably be no world organisation today if it were not for the inspiration of the Jewish people and their active contribution to the drafting of the UN Charter.

The best antidote to hate is love. The best way to counter hatred for the Jews and the modern State of Israel is therefore to express appreciation for the Jewish people and to celebrate Israel!

At ECI we have marked the different Jewish feasts at the UN to illustrate how they each have a universal message with relevance for today. In this issue you can read about how our work, in the course of just one month, has taken us to three continents in support of Israel.

Thank you for supporting our work in prayer and financial giving.  With your help we will continue.

Forum for Cultural Diplomacy moves forward with government-level meetings in Europe, USA and Australia!

Berlin - The Forum for Cultural Diplomacy, ECI’s initiative at the United Nations, is expanding its scope. In the month of June there have been government-level meetings in no less than three different continents!

In early June, Tomas Sandell and Gregory Lafitte were invited to Berlin to meet with the Special Representative of the German Government for Relations with Jewish Organisations, Ambassador Felix Klein. Ambassador Klein first learnt of the work of the Forum at a conference in Brussels in April where he spoke about ”the need for Israel to have a positive agenda.” After hearing of the work of FCD, he invited the directors to Berlin in order to learn more about the work. In Berlin it was confirmed that FCD and the German Government are on the same page when it comes to understanding and recognising the many contributions of the Jewish people to mankind and to the principles and values of the UN Charter.

Separate meetings have also taken place in Canberra, (Australia) and Wellington (New Zealand) under the leadership of ECI Legal Counsel, Andrew Tucker, and in New York through Gregory Lafitte, Tomas Sandell and Rudolf Geigy.  By partnering with national governments who share our concerns and convictions, we can strengthen the pro-Israel voice on the international scene.

Diplomatic luncheon in New York mobilises friends of Israel at the UN

New York -  On June 16th, ECI hosted a diplomatic luncheon at the ONE UN Hotel in New York in connection with the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter. Israel became a full member of the UN back in 1949, but to this day there is no formal group at the UN defending the interests of the Jewish state; there is, on the other hand, a sea of organisations which are brought together in their hatred of Israel.

This was again well-illustrated in mid-June as both Saudi Arabia and Iran protested the appointment of an Israeli diplomat to one of the vice-chairs of the Fifth Committee of the UNGA, calling the appointment a ”provocation.” Iran and Saudi Arabia are fierce enemies but are nevertheless united in their animosity towards Israel.

In his speech at the luncheon, Gregory Lafitte asked why there is still no pro-Israel group at the UN? One diplomat answered by saying that such a group has already began to crystallise through the many UN permanent missions which have taken part in FCD luncheons and activities over the last few years.
’What makes FCD unique is that it rallies support for something and not against something’, another diplomat noted. By presenting a positive agenda at the UN, friends of Israel have found a platform where they can unite in a positive spirit to express their support for Israel. Over the last few years, ECI has brought together some 50 UN missions for luncheons celebrating Jewish holidays and their universal messages for mankind.

Since its admission to the UN in 1949, Israel has been mostly isolated in the world organisation. Most friends of Israel have either dismissed the UN or engaged in a negative campaign of criticism instead of trying to be constructive. Although the criticism has often been well- intended the approach has not changed the dynamics at the UN.

ECI believes that we need to be where decisions are made and that by engaging constructively with the decision-makers we can have a positive influence.

Organisations such as the UN or the EU are by no means perfect but they are still political realities which we cannot neglect.  The goal of ECI is to make the EU and the UN a better place for Israel by bringing together and empowering friends of Israel and by providing balanced and well- documented information for the leaders.

ECI in unique mission to Australia and New Zealand

Canberra - Given the extraordinary efforts of our Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker (picture), ECI has been able to reach out and have an impact in the capitals of Australia and New Zealand, the furthest destinations from our headquarters in Brussels! Andrew Tucker was born in Australia and thus has a natural connection and interest in the continent.

New Zealand is currently a member of the UN Security Council and in this capacity is a key player at the UN. In mid- June, Tucker travelled to both capitals to meet with senior government officials to explain the case against a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN as well as the positive agenda of the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy.

The Government of Australia under Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julia Bishop is today one of the strongest supporters of Israel in the international community and the meeting with the government reflected this kinship. The officials expressed a sincere interest in continuing contact with ECI and staying actively involved with the FCD at the UN.

The meetings in Wellington also proved to be successful. Government officials listened to ECI’s message on the dangers of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN as expressed in the ECI briefing paper which had previously been shared with UN and EU officials.
The NZ Government had previously indicated that it would use its term as President of the UN Security Council in July to present a resolution with France which would impose parameters and conditions for a final peace agreement, however according to the government officials this is no longer the case.

Tucker later commented that the meetings in both capitals were successful mainly because nobody else is presenting our case. ’It is not that anyone would disagree with what we are saying, but they have simply not heard these arguments before, and when they hear them, they realise that they make perfect sense!’

The meeting in New Zealand was coordinated by our long-standing ECI friend Brenda Parshotam (picture), who is launching a new initiative called ”New Zealand for Israel,” which will operate in partnership with ECI. This initiative illustrates the organic and relational nature of ECI as Parshotam was a close friend of ECI for many years before launching the new initiative.

The mission to Australia and New Zealand once more illustrates what makes ECI’s work unique, in that we try to foster respectful personal relationships with government officials and work through a network of committed friends. Those who want to learn more about New Zealand for Israel can contact us on info@ec4i.org


European Coalition for Israel at UN rally in Geneva - Important to stand up together for Israel

Geneva, 30th June, 2015 - European Coalition for Israel, along with several other organisations, helped mobilise friends and supporters from across Europe for a pro-Israel rally at the Place des Nations in Geneva on Monday, 29th June. The rally took place in conjunction with a debate on the Commission of Inquiry report into the 2014 Gaza conflict in the UN Human Rights Council. Many Christians and Jews from different parts of Europe and from various denominational backgrounds and organisations travelled all night to come to Geneva to show their support for Israel.

The UN report  has been dismissed by many military experts for comparing the terrorist organisation Hamas with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and for putting the blame for the military conflict last summer on Israel.

In an op-ed in the New York Times on June 25th, Colonel Richard Kemp, who is the former Chief Commander of British troops in Afghanistan, called the report ”flawed and dangerous” and believed it would provoke further violence and bloodshed in the region. Richard Kemp was one of the speakers at the rally in Geneva where he also testified before the UN Human Rights Commission.

”Hamas’s aim is to force Israel to kill Palestinian civilians” by firing from residential areas and this strategy can be “seen working in action today,” he said, accusing the UNHRC of being “a tool of Hamas’s terrorism.”

The rally came only days after a series of terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait had left at least 66 people dead. But for the UN Human Rights Council it is Israel instead, the only democracy in the Middle East, that is being investigated.

In his speech at the rally, ECI Director for UN affairs, Dr. Gregory Lafitte (picture) asked why it is only Israel that is being singled out by the UN Human Rights Council.

’We have for many years witnessed a new form of anti-Semitism, clothed in the fashionable politics of demonising Israel. It is now high time for us who disagree to stand up and be counted.’

Lafitte went on to say that the Jewish community and the State of Israel have the support of a broad Christian community in Europe who wants to learn from their history and speak up in time.

Lafitte was joined by CEO of the World Jewish Congress, Robert Singer, who asked the UN to overcome its obsession with Israel and to focus on real human rights violations in the world. He went on to say that Gaza is still an occupied territory, but the occupier is not Israel but Hamas.

Also speaking at the rally were  residents of Israeli kibbutzes in close proximity to the Gaza strip.  Ofir Libstein, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Azza, which is one kilometer away from the Gaza Strip, shared how her four little sons were born into a 15-second reality ? the time between a rocket alert and an explosion. She explained the traumatising effect for children living under such circumstances. Her 11 year- old boy still cannot sleep alone as every alert and every explosion makes him re-live the attacks of last summer.

The rally brought together some 80 NG0s in support of Israel and in their demand for a more balanced approach by the UN Human Rights Council. Other speakers included Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi and Italian journalist, Giuliano Ferrera.

Representing the only Christian organisation on the platform, Gregory Lafitte explained the importance for Christians and Jews together to stand up for the rights of Israel.

He reiterated the vision of the early days of ECI, when in an EU Summit on anti-Semitism in Brussels in 2004, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel asked why it was only the Jewish communities who were reacting to the rise of anti-Semitism.
’Where are all the others?’, he asked.

Lafitte concluded by answering the plea from Elie Wiesel with these words:

“We, the European Coalition for Israel, along with many other Christian organisations present here today, want to be this coalition of all the others."