Brussels, January 20th, 2021 – The European Coalition for Israel (ECI) will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday 27 January 2021 with an online memorial service calling upon faith communities worldwide to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition on anti-Semitism.
In May 2016, the IHRA – an intergovernmental body comprising 34 countries, seven observer nations and seven Permanent International Partners – published a definition of anti-Semitism in order to protect Jews from “rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The introduction of the IHRA working definition on anti-Semitism provides a powerful instrument that gives a focus and shared structure around which governments and the myriad institutions of civil society can rally. Last year, for example, the English Premier League adopted the IHRA definition in an attempt to stamp out anti-Semitism and xenophobia in football and deal more effectively with antisemitic behaviour. Likewise, there is no reason why the IHRA definition cannot become a similar benchmark for faith communities.
“The time has come for church communities to take a stand against rising anti-Semitism”, says ECI Chairman Tor G Gull. “It is our contention that one very powerful way for churches to take such a stand is by adopting the IHRA working definition on anti-Semitism, which has currently been endorsed by over forty nations, as well as the European Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The IHRA working definition has thus become a universal reference point and benchmark in defining and identifying old and new forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism, the denial of Jewish self-determination.”
The ECI campaign is not an isolated event. Germany’s main Protestant and Roman Catholic churches have also declared 2021 as a year to encourage Christians to take a stand against increasing anti-Semitism, including by acknowledging its lamentable Christian roots. “It must be clear that anti-Semitism is a sin and contradicts everything Christianity stands for”, declared Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, in a recent speech in Berlin.
The ECI campaign, commencing with the online memorial event on 27 January 2021, is global in its reach and focus, which is why ECI will cooperate with other regional initiatives within its newly-formed umbrella organization: the International Coalition for Israel. The online memorial event on 27 January will feature statements and messages from Christian leaders from several continents alongside powerful historical reflections, documentary footage and musical tributes. Meanwhile, local churches across the globe are being encouraged to include segments of Holocaust remembrance in their Sunday services on 31st January; and it is hoped that many churches will also participate in a webinar hosted by ECI later on 31st January to discuss Christian responses to increasing anti-Semitism.
“Whereas Jew hatred was once a European plague it has now increasingly become a global problem. As Europeans we have a historic responsibility to be at the forefront of this global battle”, Gull concluded.
Those churches (and individuals) who wish to participate in these various Holocaust memorial events can register here:
When: Jan 27, 2021 07:30 PM Brussels
Topic: International Holocaust Memorial
Register in advance for this webinar:
When: Jan 31, 2021 04:00 PM Brussels
Topic: What can we as Christians do to stop the rise of anti-Semitism?
Register in advance for this webinar: