ECI calls upon Europe

ECI calls upon Europe to stand united with Israel against terrorism and step up its efforts to root out extremism

Brussels, March 23rd, 2016 - ECI condemns the terror attacks which struck Brussels on Tuesday morning, just a few blocks away from the ECI head office by the European Parliament in Brussels.  Whereas all ECI staff and associates are safe, up to 34 people are expected to have lost their lives and another 200 people are injured in the deadliest terror attacks since World War II in Belgium.

In a statement on Tuesday, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell expressed his condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones and called upon the EU to step up its efforts to root out Jihadist terrorism in Europe and around the world. “Terror does not make any distinction between race or nationality. It needs to be condemned in Paris and Brussels as well as in Jerusalem and Istanbul. It is high time for all nations who value freedom to stand together against those who commit these horrendous crimes and against those who fund them.”

“This attack goes beyond the national boundaries of Belgium, it is an attack at the heart of Europe and the values which we hold dear,” said Sandell, adding that the last 24 hours have brought Brussels to a standstill and as we mourn the death of innocent lives, in this critical hour, we need to show solidarity and respect. It is particularly important to refrain from pointing fingers or making insensitive comments towards others that seek to divide us.

The attacks in Brussels are one continuous attack on all of us, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated very rightly yesterday.  The daily attacks in Israel and “the attacks from Paris to San Bernardino to Istanbul to the Ivory Coast and now to Brussels”, they are “one continuous assault on all of us.”  In all these cases the terrorists have no resolvable grievances, “because what they seek is our utter destruction and their total domination. Their basic demand is that we should simply disappear,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu, adding that the only way to defeat terrorism is to join together and fight together.

More than ever before, Europe and Israel need to stand united in order to defeat terrorism.  As ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell emphasised during this month's European Report programme, “it is very clear that Europe really needs Israel and that we need to work together. When you look at the terror threat that Europe is under, who were the first ones to come to our rescue in Paris, to prevent further bloodshed in Germany and other places in Europe? It was Israeli intelligence and anyone who has a little bit of experience in this field knows that we cannot be isolated from Israel. We need Israel as a partner.”

We face a very real terrorist threat right across our different countries and as Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel stated yesterday, this is a “common fight”.  Freedom was struck in its heart in Brussels, as Paris was a few months ago, as London and Spain were in their turn, he added.

In rooting out extremism, we also have to be clear that radicalisation is underpinned by intolerant ideas which create a climate in which extremists can flourish.  Such ideologies actively promote discrimination, sectarianism and segregation and are hostile to our basic values of democracy, freedom and equality.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron said in his anti-extremism speech in July 2015, these intolerant ideas often “begin with hearing about the so-called Jewish conspiracy and then develop into hostility towards the West and fundamental liberal values, before finally becoming a cultish attachment to death.”  He went on to state plainly that, “if you say ‘violence in London isn’t justified, but suicide bombs in Israel are a different matter’ ? then you too are part of the problem”.

ECI calls upon the EU to challenge every part of these hateful ideologies and recognise the dangers they place upon people’s lives, both here in Europe and around the world. We must both support communities that are affected by terrorism and invest in anti-extremism education, which exposes the link between extremism and conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism, in order to be effective in rooting out radicalisation in Europe.

The European Coalition for Israel (ECI) was founded in Brussels in 2003 as a Christian initiative to address the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.  Today, ECI is active in fostering good relations between Europe and Israel and in combating the latest expressions of anti-Semitism, which include calls for boycotts and the isolation and demonization of the state of Israel. The ECI Annual Policy Conference will take place this year in Brussels on April 21st, 2016.



ECI mobilizes grassroots to boost support for Israel

Brussels - This month we welcome Ruth Daskalopoulou-Isaac to the ECI team. She has been appointed as a coordinator to improve communications and better mobilize our grassroots constituency in support of Israel. Her working title will be “ECI Communications Manager” and she will also be our Brussels representative for the initial project period of five months.

Ruth has been involved in advocacy for Israel for many years, most recently with the Belgian Coalition for Israel and the “Shalom Festival” in Belgium. The Shalom Festival is a unique outreach event with a positive message for peace (shalom) and co-existence and puts a friendly face on support for Israel on the streets of Europe.

Besides Ruth Isaac, our ECI operational team currently consists of Andrew Tucker, Katariina Salmi, Faith Collins Childress, Gregory Lafitte and Tomas Sandell. Perrine Dufoix is on a sabbatical at the moment.

The team is supported by many volunteers who help spread the ECI message within Europe and around the world. This month we want to especially thank our excellent translators who are translating our Monthly Reports and Press Releases into seven different languages! If you are able to translate these newsletters into an additional language or strengthen the existing translation teams, please contact our office.

New ECI initiative to build transatlantic partnerships for Israel

Washington D.C - Europe has for centuries been the main battlefield for the Jewish people. This is, sadly, also the case today. In the past the USA has sent some of their best men to fight in Europe to prevent totalitarian regimes from taking over the continent and thus saving the Jews from total annihilation. As Europeans we are forever grateful for these sacrifices.

Once again we are called to stand together as Europeans and Americans in the battle against new forms of anti-Semitism. One of these new forms of anti-Semitism is the so-called BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, which has also influenced US policy. It needs to be addressed simultaneously both in Europe and the USA.

The new initiative is called “American Friends of ECI” and the goal is to build solid transatlantic partnerships in support of Israel and the Jewish people. The registration process is already underway and the work is headed up in the US by our former Brussels representative Faith Collins Childress.

In February, Tomas Sandell visited Washington to present the vision of the American Friends of ECI initiative to local leaders and congressional staff on Capitol Hill. The vision was well received.  One Washington insider acknowledged that ECI can contribute to the debate, simply by adding a unique European perspective.

During his trip to the USA, Sandell also attended the National Prayer Breakfast where he met with government officials and parliamentarians from around the world and was able to present some of the work of ECI. The inaugural meeting of ”American Friends of ECI” is expected to take place later this month in Washington DC.


ECI welcomes EU-Israeli rapprochement

ECI welcomes EU-Israeli rapprochement but warns of religious extremism which fuels calls for new boycotts of Israel

Brussels, March 10th, 2016 - ECI announced on Thursday its next Annual Policy Conference which will take place in Brussels on April 21. The aim of the conference is to promote closer EU-Israeli cooperation at a time when both sides are seeking to rebuild relations after a disruptive period of diplomatic conflict.

EU-Israeli relations hit an all time low in November 2015 after the EU issued an "EU Interpretative Notice on Labelling of Goods from the territories administered by Israel since 1967". The notice was however renounced by the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz as “counterproductive” as it leads to higher unemployment among Palestinians.

In early February the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resolve differences and tensions over the notice and declared that the EU is seeking good and close relations with Israel. Mogherini further clarified that the EU labelling notice is without prejudice and does not in any way pre-determine the future borders in a final peace agreement, which can only come through direct negotiations between the two parties.

She also affirmed that the EU opposes any boycotting of Israel, thus echoing similar statements made by the British government, the French High Court, as well as the Canadian Parliament last month, which have all spoken out against calls for new boycotts against Israel.

In a statement on Thursday, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell applauded the EU initiative to repair relations with Israel as well as the moral leadership of British Prime Minister David Cameron and other European leaders who have publicly spoken out against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement and its call for boycotts and diplomatic isolation of Israel.

“At the same time, extreme political and religious organisations around the world continue to demonize Israel and call for new boycotts, separating Israelis from Palestinians instead of bringing them closer together in joint projects and closer cooperation”, Sandell said. Earlier this week, at an extraordinary summit of the 57 member-strong Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), calls were made for an intensified economic war against Israel.

ECI was founded in Brussels in 2003 as a Christian initiative to address the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Today ECI works together with a wide range of Christian groups and denominations to foster good relations between Europe and Israel and to address the latest expression of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere, which includes calls for boycotts and the isolation of Israel as well as the demonization of the Jewish state. The ECI Annual Policy Conference will take place in Brussels on April 21, 2016.