Brussels, September 20th, 2017 – As the Jewish community around the world pauses to reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future the European Coalition for Israel wishes everyone Shana Tovah, a sweet year. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, commences this evening.

Having just returned from a first official visit to the African continent, ECI director Tomas Sandell made a statement on Wednesday where he spoke about year 5778 in the Jewish calendar as a year of unique opportunities for the State of Israel and for the Jewish people.

“From Africa to Asia, from Europe to Latin America, a growing number of nations are drawing closer to the State of Israel to learn from its many achievements and its dynamic economy. Even in the Arab world, the relationships towards Israel are warming up as former enemies appear as friends on the world arena. Earlier this week Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met openly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the opening sessions of the UN General Assembly in New York. On a separate occasion this week the King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa called upon the Arab world to end its boycott of Israel and said its citizens are free to visit the Jewish state.”

“However, as we reflect on these positive developments in the world we should not forget the forces of evil who continue to call for Israel´s destruction,” he said. Last week an Iranian general threatened to “turn Tel Aviv and Haifa in to dust”, thus reiterating the Iranian call of many years to “wipe Israel off the map.” Iran is today supporting terrorist groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon which claims to have 100,000 missiles in Lebanon aimed at destroying Israel.

“These agents of destruction must be contained and stopped before it is too late,” Sandell said and quoted an old Jewish saying at the High Holy Days illustrating the perseverance of the Jewish people over the years. “They tried to destroy us. They failed. Now let´s eat.”

Rosh Hashana is a time to eat and celebrate but the following ten days, leading up to the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a period of soul searching and deep reflections.

As of 2016 the United Nations is recognising Yom Kippur as a religious holiday and will refrain from hosting any high level meetings on this day. This year Yom Kippur begins on Friday 29th September.

In a separate message to the Jewish community in Europe on Monday, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans wished the Jewish communities joy and happiness as they celebrate the New Year. The European Commission Vice-President is each year recognising the Jewish High Holy Days with a personal message and participates in the festivities of the local Jewish community in Brussels.