”Understanding the times and knowing what ECI should do”

”Sons of Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” 1 Chronicles 12:32

Autumn is often synonymous with new seasons and new beginnings, regardless of whether we study and go to school or live in the political world. Contrary to our Gregorian calendar, where January 1 marks the New Year, the Jewish calendar is more accurate by marking Rosh Hashanah, which this year begins in the evening of September 13, as the new civil year. According to some Jewish scholars, the upcoming Jewish New Year, 5776, will also mark a Year of Jubilee.

But also, outside of the Jewish context, international relations seem to be entering a new phase as the nations prepare for the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York in September. There is hardly a world leader who is not planning to be in New York during the High Level Debate.

This autumn will see the ratification process of the Iran nuclear deal come to a close in the US congress in Washington and a presentation of a new UN resolution to set the parameters for a final and comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, a de-facto unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.

It seems as if the nuclear agreement with Iran has ushered in a new age of optimism in the international community where world bodies hope to solve the long standing conflict between Israel and the Arab world ? now with the more active involvement of the EU.

For ECI this new season poses many challenges that will require your active help and support. As Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the international community it is important that we step up our support.

These are our priorities for 2015-2016

From time to time it is important to recapitulate what European Coalition for Israel is and what our current priorities are. There is no better time to do so than at the beginning of a new season.

ECI was founded in 2003 in order to give Christians a voice in support of Israel in the corridors of power in Brussels and across Europe. Over the years this mandate has expanded to include the UN in New York where today we are reaching out successfully to a growing number of nations.

Whereas there are many excellent and hard working Christian pro-Israel ministries which are teaching the church about our responsibilities towards the Jewish people, helping with social needs in Israel, organising large conferences in Jerusalem etc, we have a different focus.  Our vision is to put our words in to action where we believe they matter the most, in places where decisions are made and opinions are formed. This way we can complement the important work which is already being done by other organisations by giving Christians a voice in the international capitals of the world.

In retrospect we know that it was this crucial function that was missing in the 1930´s, allowing the greatest crime against mankind to come about. Our pledge is simple: Never again.


1. Fighting anti-Semitism in Europe

Despite our growing global influence the core mandate of ECI remains in Europe. Never before has the need for a strong Christian voice against anti-Semitism in Europe been more important. This is even more relevant now as the EU is looking for a more active role in reviving the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Europe cannot take on a mediating role in the Middle East if we at the same time harbour anti-Israeli sentiments in our midst. Whereas the EU has been consistent in condemning anti-Semitic violence in Europe it needs to show the same determination in condemning anti-Semitic terrorist attacks also inside Israel.

ECI has for may years stressed the strategic relationship between Europe and Israel and has protested against any acts of double standards, as in the implementation of the new guidelines prohibiting EU funding to projects or recipients outside of the so called 1967 lines, or the new initiative to mark Israeli goods produced in the disputed territories.  These measures are the results of the campaigning of the notorious BDS-movement (Boycotts, divestments and sanctions), which aims to isolate and demonise the state of Israel. As the BDS movement is growing stronger also in Christian circles ECI has a responsibility to stand up and be a clear voice against anti-Semitism inside the church. Perrine Dufoix is our point person for Europe.

2. International Lawfare

Since 2010 ECI has played a central role in re-establishing the historical truth about Israel´s legal foundation, as codified under international law in the international peace conference in San Remo in April 1920 (See link Give Peace a Chance). By commemorating the 90th anniversary of this important conference ECI has been able to bring this long forgotten message to the ends of the earth. This work continues now with the many timely position papers written by ECI Legal Counsel Andrew Tucker and his team. With an eye to a new Palestinian statehood bid at the UN this work is of utmost strategic importance as we can raise an alternative but credible voice based on international law and justice. ECI wish to serve the family of nations as well as the wider church with sound briefings on the legality of the state of Israel. This work, while based in Brussels and The Hague, has of course a global scope as international law transcends national borders.

3. Cultural diplomacy

As of 2013 the international work at the UN, which initially only focused only on legal arguments, has shifted to also include cultural diplomacy. This type of soft diplomacy, where we focus on the many Jewish contributions to mankind, has proven to be an effective way to bring nations together in support for Israel. This work has also come to the attention of the highest level within the UN secretariat, which supports our initiatives. By marking the Jewish holidays at the UN we have managed to present a different side of Israel which evokes the interest and support of many nations. By consistently organising cultural events with a positive message about Israel we have helped facilitate a growing network of nations who wish to draw nearer to Israel. This work, which is today called Forum for Cultural Diplomacy, is being coordinated by Gregory Lafitte. (Picture: Ambassador Karel Kovanda speaking at the Yom Kippur event at the UN in October 2014.)

ECI presented at conferences in Sweden and Finland

Helsinki - During the quiet holiday season of July ECI has been active in speaking in a number of conferences to present the vision and mission of our organisation and encourage Christians to get actively involved in prayer, education and advocacy for Israel.

Many of the meetings have taken place informally whilst others have been public meetings with large audiences. ECI was honoured to have been invited to speak at the Word of Life annual Europe conference in Uppsala, Sweden in the last week of July when Tomas Sandell spoke alongside Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman and Senior Pastor Joakim Lundqvist. Word of Life has been one of the most influential pro-Israel churches in the last thirty years, teaching hundreds of thousands of Christians about Israel and bringing thousands of pilgrims to Israel. In the 1990´s WOL brought thousands of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel through its ministry Operation Jabotinsky. After the conference Tomas and Christian Akerhielm from WOL International signed a partnership agreement which further consolidates our cooperation.

In the first week of July Tomas spoke at an Israel conference in Narpes, in the west of Finland. The focus on the Nordic countries is not by chance but because of the important role of the Nordic countries at the EU and the UN.  Some years ago Israel considered the Nordic countries to be the main problems for Israel in Europe. Today the governments in Finland, Norway and Denmark have shifted their policies and are more positive towards Israel.

Due to the extensive travel commitments, ECI staff have limited capacity to attend and speak at Christian conferences. However, Tomas is scheduled to speak in London 10-11 October. More details will follow shortly.

No fixed date yet for annual conference in Brussels

Due to new security regulations inside the European Parliament ECI has not been able to firm up any date for our next annual policy conference. We are still looking at the possibility of organising a seminar and a dinner in mid November, probably week 47 (18-19 November). You can now indicate whether you are interested in receiving an invitation as this conference will be by invitation only. We are sorry for this inconvenience.