Brussels, December 12th, 2016 – One of the largest pro-Israel conferences took place inside the European Parliament in Brussels last week, organised by the European Christian Political Movement in collaboration with the European Coalition for Israel: “Terrorism and Security: What the EU can learn from Israel”.
Israeli Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Yehiel Hilik Bar expressed his great surprise as he looked around in a full conference hall.
“They tell us that we have no friends in Europe, but when I look around I am amazed at the level of support that we have from the Christian communities here in the European Parliament,” he said.
ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell gave a brief explanation of the growing support for Israel among Christians of different denominations in Europe.
“In 2004 the late Elie Wiesel asked why it was only the Jewish community leaders in Europe who bothered to stand up to the rise of anti-Semitism at the time. Where are all the others, he asked?”
“Today you can see the answer to his question,” Sandell said. “We are here in the European Parliament, turning out in record high numbers to express our support for Israel and to fight anti-Semitism together.”
Sandell pointed out that faith leaders from all religious communities have a responsibility to condemn the use of violence in the name of religion.
“There needs to be a coherent message from all religious leaders in Europe that there can be no place for anti-Semitism in our societies.”
He went on to praise the European Commission for its comprehensive work in fighting anti-Semitism and engaging with faith leaders to diffuse radicalisation. But he criticised the European Union for the lack of a coherent policy.
“You cannot fight anti-Semitism and terrorism in one part of the world and ignore it in other parts of the world,” he said. Terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv need to be condemned in the same way as terror attacks in Paris and Brussels. He also strongly criticised the unaccountable EU aid to the Palestinian Authorities, despite the on-going Palestinian incitement to violence and culture of hatred.
In his closing remarks he turned to the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Yehiel Hilik Bar and said, “On behalf of millions of European citizens who have been helped by your government and Israeli companies which have come to our aid when we have been struck by terror and have prevented further terror attacks and bloodshed, we want to say a heartfelt Toda – thank you.”
Conference host MEP Bas Belder (Netherlands) expressed his on-going commitment to stand on the side of Israel and the Jewish communities.
“With the memory of the Holocaust, Israel must prioritise the security of its citizens in the fight against all forms of terrorism,” he said.
Other speakers included MEP Branislav Škripek (Slovak), MEP Arne Gericke (Germany), MEP Marek Jurek (Poland), European Commission coordinator on anti-Semitism, Katharina von Schnurbein, Israeli Deputy Ambassador Shuli Davidovich and Rabbi Avi Tawil.
The ECI Annual Conference will be held in Brussels on Thursday 30th March, 2017.