Geneva, May 8th, 2023 – European Coalition for Israel joined on Sunday a global prayer initiative for Israel, called Isaiah 62 Fast, with an urgent appeal to the worldwide church community to say no to antisemitism by adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition on antisemitism.
ECI was represented at the March of Life in Geneva on Sunday by Dr Gregory Lafitte who spoke at the Place des Nations, alongside the Israeli Ambassador to Switzerland, Ifat Reshef and Hillel Neuer from UN Watch. In his message Lafitte spoke about the significance of the Jewish holiday of Purim in understanding modern antisemitism and suggested a threefold antidote to Jew hatred.
“The first key is fasting, weeping and wailing, an attitude of humility”, he said. “The second key is to listen to the millenary narrative of the Wandering Jew, and to keep telling this to our children. The third key is to be found in the question asked by the King in the story of Esther; what recognition have we given for what Mordechai has done for us?” Lafitte concluded by asking , “Could it be that King’s question provides the core of an antidote to the deadly scourge of antisemitism?”
In a separate statement in Helsinki ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell added, “The church should be the first to repent for its open and latent antisemitism throughout the centuries. Instead, many church bodies are still reluctant to adopt the IHRA working definition on antisemitism as it points out that anti-Zionism is also a form of antisemitism.”
Many Christian denominations have a long history of anti-Israel rhetoric which culminated at the UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa in September 2001. Most western nations have since distanced themselves from the conference which many historians consider the launching pad for modern antisemitism. Still, international church bodies such as the Geneva based World Council of Churches has not backed down from its support.
Sandell concluded, “Whereas many progressives have a problem with the State of Israel, there are also those on the political right who support the State of Israel while at the same time have difficulties relating to their own Jewish communities. This is often expressed in the open embrace of various conspiracy theories which put Jews at the front and centre of all things evil. As an organization we want to condemn all forms of antisemitism, regardless of theological or political connotations.”
The Isaiah 62 Fast will conclude on May 28 when up to 100 million Christians are expected to join the prayer initiative.