Geneva, January 29th, 2020 – The European Coalition for Israel has issued a call to faith communities around the world to fight the current rise of antisemitism. The call was issued in Geneva on Sunday night, on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camps.
In explaining the significance of the location and the timing of the call, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell drew attention to the fact that Geneva is where the League of Nations was formed 100 years ago and it was the failure of the League of Nations to prevent the rise of the Nazi-Party in Germany from that time on which ultimately paved the way for the Shoah (Holocaust).
“As history tells us, what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews; while more than six million Jews were murdered in the Shoah, an additional 50 million civilians were killed and countless more suffered loss or were displaced as a result of the Second World War”, he said. “One hundred years on we are now issuing a new call to the community of nations to seriously commit to combating the current rise in antisemitism in order to preserve world peace.”
In his keynote speech, ECI UN Director for UN Affairs, Gregory Lafitte (picture), asked the biblical question: “Where is your brother?”. “Seventy-five years ago, the faith communities had failed to understand the answer to this fundamental question in turning a blind eye to the persecution of the Jews”, he said. “This indifference ultimately enabled the Nazis to execute their “Endlösung” (the final solution) – the killing of six million Jews. Today we must address and fight this indifference just as diligently as we fight antisemitism”, he concluded.
The ceremony on Sunday night was part of a series of meetings in Geneva and included the signing of the official registration papers for a new Geneva based entity called the “International Coalition for Israel”, which will serve as an umbrella group for initiatives and activities around the world, including our work at the United Nations in New York. The first official initiative of the new group will be ChurchesAgainstantisemitism, which will educate, empower and mobilize churches and faith communities around the world to better combat antisemitism and support Jewish life in their own communities.
On Monday night ECI participated in the official UN Holocaust Remembrance Day event at the European Headquarters of the United Nations, where UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, gave a message by video transmission and the Director-General of the UN in Geneva, Tatiana Valovaya, spoke about the importance of Holocaust remembrance and learning from history. Quoting Anne Frank, she said: “What has been done can’t be undone but we can prevent it from happening again”.