This month ECI has again been active in reaching out to decision makers and political leaders, from Reykjavik in the north to Geneva in the south, for a fair treatment of Israel and the Jewish people. Together we continue to make a difference.

European Coalition for Israel - a unique calling to those in authority - with a heart for unity

Since the founding of ECI in 2003, its influence has been steadily spreading from its home base in Brussels to many nations in every continent. In this year alone ECI has been instrumental in giving leadership and guidance to several new initiatives around the world. Last month our legal counsel Andrew Tucker travelled to Nigeria to attend a conference where the idea of an African Coalition for Israel was considered for the first time. Earlier in the year he was in New Zealand to help a national pro-Israel initiative engage with their government. Last month the founding director, Tomas Sandell, was in close contact with the new Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition in order to share resources and foster closer cooperation. During the year outgoing chairman Harald Eckert has also been travelling to the four corners of the world to inspire Christians to get involved in supporting Israel, giving ECI as an example of what can be achieved when we work together.

However, ECI is not called to go just anywhere in the world. We are part of a bigger picture. Just as in the times of Nehemiah, “the work is extensive and spread out and we are widely separated from each other.” (Neh. 4:20) This was one of the reasons why ECI was founded in 2003, to help bridge the gap in areas where ministries had not previously been very active, especially in reaching out to their governments. Today ECI is partnering with renowned ministries such as Christians for Israel International, Operation Exodus, International Christian Chamber of Commerce, Pentecostal European Fellowship, Word of Life International ? in order to more effectively coordinate Christian support for Israel in various international forums.

There is a specific task and calling for all of us, individuals and ministries alike. In the coming years ECI will seek to “make our calling sure” (2 Peter 1:10) while at the same time striving for unity with other ministries who are also part of the bigger picture. This was also the conclusion when the executive directors of European Coalition for Israel and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem met in Helsinki last week. These are two important ministries which we believe the Lord has raised up, with sometimes overlapping callings, but with a desire to see greater unity, synergy and effectiveness in the broader movement of Israel related ministries.

Together we can serve the interests of Israel and the Jewish people better.

Visit to the UK helps spread the ECI vision

London - European Coalition for Israel is a grassroots movement which is only as strong as its support base. In the second week of October Founding Director Tomas Sandell visited London to speak at a Feast of Tabernacles conference at the Emmanuel Centre, hosted by Barry and Batya Segal from Joseph Storehouse.

In a full house at the Emmanuel Centre many heard the story of ECI for the first time and a large number of them signed up to receive our monthly reports.  Joseph Storehouse is doing an important work by caring for some of the most vulnerable people in Israel through its unique social outreach programs. ECI has always made it clear that our calling is first and foremost to the political leadership and we rely on other ministries to bless Israel through social outreach. In this respect ECI complements many existing pro-Israel ministries and adds value to the bigger picture.

Because of our singular focus on the political leadership we have not always been very good at making our organisation known to the wider body of friends of Israel. It is therefore important from time to time to come out and share about the work, as happened in London on 9-10 October.

On Sunday, Tomas Sandell was invited to preach at the Kingdom Faith Church in Horsham, which is pastored by our friends Clive and Jane Urquhart.  Again several hundred people heard the message of prayer, education and advocacy for Israel.

All this was made possible thanks to the initiative of Alistair and Connie Scott who are coordinating our ministry in the UK. We are now looking to host more meetings in London and for other ways of staying in contact with our core constituency and also to share our vision to new groups of people. ECI is also open to visiting other capitals in Europe. Please feel free to contact our office if you want to invite ECI to your capital.

ECI in EU talks about root cause for rise of violence in Israel

Brussels - October has been one of the most violent months in Israel in 2015 when so called “lone wolf Palestinian terrorists”, inspired by their leaders to murder Jews, have killed over ten people and injured another 50 people in some of the most brutal acts of violence in Israel in a long time. It is clear that the killing spree is inspired by the daily calls for violence in Palestinian mosques, schools and television, as well as directly by their political leaders.

ECI has been protesting against this culture of hate for many years and has repeatedly asked the European Union and Western governments to make funding to the Palestinian authority conditional on an immediate halt to any hate speech.

Still, the leaders in Brussels have so far refused to acknowledge any responsibility for the violence although the EU is the single largest financial contributor to the Palestinian Authority. The fact of the matter is that without EU funding the PA would simply cease to exist. When Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was visiting Brussels last week he was again received as a foreign dignitary by EU Foreign Chief Federica Mogherini who refused to bring him to account for his inflammatory speeches and simply mentioned “lack of hope” as the reason for the violence.

In the meantime ECI has been able to meet privately with senior EU officials to discuss the current wave of violence in Israel, pointing to the responsibility of the Palestinian leadership to stop the incitement and for the EU to make their funding conditional on this. The discussions have been open and frank and the differences in our perspectives have been evident. But the discussions have been conducted in a good spirit and with mutual respect. On the day when ECI, through Tomas Sandell, first brought up its concerns, there had still been no official reaction to the violence in Israel. But only a few hours after the meeting, the EU ambassador to Israel suddenly expressed his condolences, which helped calm the situation.  The EU ambassador in Israel works under an EU official in Brussels, and we have reasons to believe that he received his instructions to do so directly from Brussels.

The only way to have an influence in the EU is to engage constructively and respectfully with the EU officials. We feel honoured that we have an open door to many of the EU officials, that we are able to freely present our point of view, and that our efforts also have an impact.

ECI meets with new UN Director General in Geneva

Geneva - ECI’s UN Director Dr Gregory Lafitte has met with the newly appointed Director General of the UN headquarters in Europe, Michael Moller. Moller was recently appointed Director General of the UN in Geneva after previously serving as Acting Director General. Lafitte, who had met Moller on a previous occasion, gave him an update on the recent activities of ECI at the UN in New York and discussed the on-going campaign for UN recognition of Yom Kippur.

The UN office in Geneva has recently come under attack for promoting anti-Israeli books in their official bookshop and for electing Saudi Arabia as chair of the UN Human Rights Council. However, as in many other decisions at the UN, it is the member states that elect members to the UNHRC and not the officials of the organisation.

ECI has become increasingly active at the UN in Geneva this year. In June ECI took part in a large pro-Israel rally in front of the UN headquarters, hosted the by the World Jewish Congress, where Lafitte was one of the keynote speakers.

Meanwhile in Paris, our European Director Perrine Dufoix has been raising a red flag as the 58-member executive board of UNESCO has voted to recognize the tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's tomb as Muslim heritage sites. An attempt to declare the Western Wall in Jerusalem as a Muslim heritage site was thwarted after an international campaign of condemnation, led by the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. UNESCO is the UN special agency for education, science and culture and is headquartered in Paris.

New attempt to recognize Palestinian state thwarted at the Nordic Council

Reykjavik, Iceland - A new initiative from the parliamentary assembly of the Nordic Council to ask the Nordic governments to immediately recognize a Palestinian state has been thwarted at the annual session of the Nordic Council in Reykjavik. Last year the newly elected Swedish government recognized a Palestinian state and tried to get the other Nordic nations (Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland) to follow suit.

Last year this attempt failed and the resolution did not have any better success this year as the initiative was rejected by a majority of the delegates. In a compromise resolution the “need for peace and reconciliation” was stressed and a possible recognition of a Palestinian state has been left for later, which implies negotiations only and not a unilateral declaration.

Many ECI activists across the Nordic countries have been mobilizing support for the rejection of the original resolution. An approval would have disrespected international law and sent a dangerous signal to the international community. The parliamentary assembly of the Nordic Council does not have any legislative powers but can only give recommendations. ECI thanks all its Nordic supporters for remaining diligent and pro-active.

Editor Tomas Sandell tomas.sandell@pp.inet.fi
Copyright c European Coalition for Israel