Geneva, 30th June, 2015 – European Coalition for Israel, along with several other organizations, helped mobilize friends and supporters from across Europe for a pro-Israel rally at the Place des Nations in Geneva on Monday, 29th June. The rally took place in conjunction with a debate on the Commission of Inquiry report into the 2014 Gaza conflict in the UN Human Rights Council. Many Christians and Jews from different parts of Europe and from various denominational backgrounds and organizations traveled all night to come to Geneva to show their support for Israel.
The UN report has been dismissed by many military experts for comparing the terrorist organization Hamas with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and for putting the blame for the military conflict last summer on Israel.
In an op-ed in the New York Times on June 25th, Colonel Richard Kemp, who is the former Chief Commander of British troops in Afghanistan, called the report ”flawed and dangerous” and believed it would provoke further violence and bloodshed in the region. Richard Kemp was one of the speakers at the rally in Geneva where he also testified before the UN Human Rights Commission. “Hamas’s aim is to force Israel to kill Palestinian civilians” by firing from residential areas and this strategy can be “seen working in action today,” he said, accusing the UNHRC of being “a tool of Hamas’s terrorism.”
The rally came only days after a series of terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait had left at least 66 people dead. But for the UN Human Rights Council it is Israel instead, the only democracy in the Middle East, that is being investigated.
In his speech at the rally, ECI Director for UN affairs, Dr. Gregory Lafitte (picture) asked why it is only Israel that is being singled out by the UN Human Rights Council.
“We have for many years witnessed a new form of antisemitism, clothed in the fashionable politics of demonizing Israel. It is now high time for us who disagree to stand up and be counted.”
Lafitte went on to say that the Jewish community and the State of Israel have the support of a broad Christian community in Europe who wants to learn from their history and speak up in time.
Lafitte was joined by CEO of the World Jewish Congress, Robert Singer, who asked the UN to overcome its obsession with Israel and to focus on real human rights violations in the world. He went on to say that Gaza is still an occupied territory, but the occupier is not Israel but Hamas.
Also speaking at the rally were residents of Israeli kibbutzes in close proximity to the Gaza strip. Ofir Libstein, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Azza, which is one kilometer away from the Gaza Strip, shared how her four little sons were born into a 15-second reality – the time between a rocket alert and an explosion. She explained the traumatizing effect for children living under such circumstances. Her 11 year-old boy still cannot sleep alone as every alert and every explosion makes him re-live the attacks of last summer.
The rally brought together some 80 NG0s in support of Israel and in their demand for a more balanced approach by the UN Human Rights Council. Other speakers included Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi and Italian journalist, Giuliano Ferrera.
Representing the only Christian organization on the platform, Gregory Lafitte explained the importance for Christians and Jews together to stand up for the rights of Israel.
He reiterated the vision of the early days of ECI, when in an EU Summit on antisemitism in Brussels in 2004, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel asked why it was only the Jewish communities who were reacting to the rise of antisemitism. ’Where are all the others?’, he asked.
Lafitte concluded by answering the plea from Elie Wiesel with these words:
“We, the European Coalition for Israel, along with many other Christian organizations present here today, want to be this coalition of all the others. Nous, la Coalition Européenne pour Israël, avec beaucoup d’autres organisations chrétiennes présentes ici aujourd’hui, voulons être cette coalition de tous les autres.”