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