By ECI STaff.. Brussels, February 25th, 2013 – As the Jewish festival of Purim went into full swing on Sunday, European Coalition for Israel marked its 10th Anniversary as a pan-European organisation in support of the Jewish state. ‘The organisation was formalized in the European Parliament in Brussels on Purim in 2003’, recalls Tomas Sandell, Founding Director of the organisation. ‘A group of members of the European Parliament, as well as Christian ministry leaders, decided that the time had come to make a clear stand for Israel and the Jewish people. Fate had it that the decision would be taken on Purim, the day that Jews celebrate the failed plot by Haman to eliminate the Jews in Ancient Persia, some 2,400 years ago.
‘The need for a Christian pro-Israel organisation in Europe has never been more important’, said Sandell in Brussels on Monday. ‘Despite the fact that Europe is politically a very diverse continent, we now see expressions of anti-Semitism in places where until now, it has been unheard of. It is not only in societies hit by the financial crisis, such as Greece and Hungary, where anti-Semitism is on the rise. Even in stable countries like Finland, with one of the smallest Jewish communities in Europe, anti-Semitic propaganda has begun to spread. The Finnish State Prosecutor’s office is currently investigating whether Magneetti, the free magazine of a popular supermarket chain, is guilty of incitement by openly publishing Nazi-style conspiracy theories from the 1930´s.
‘From France to Finland, from Greece to Sweden, the most deadly virus of all time is back in Europe’, warns Sandell.
‘It is not only old-style right wing extremism that is on the rise. We now see both left-wing and right-wing activists using the same hate language against the Jewish people and their state. Many try to get away with it by reserving their hatred for Zionist Jews, but at the end of the day it all boils down to the same conclusions; Jews are seen as the only obstacles to peace in the Middle East and a major source of unrest and problems in the world’, explains Sandell.
ECI plans to mark its 10th Anniversary with a full year of activities. In March 2004, ECI organised its first major conference in the European Parliament, hence cementing the Feast of Purim as an important marker for the organisation.
‘The grim realities of anti-Semitism are something which we do not resolve at gala dinners and anniversaries. Our activities are needed around the clock, not only in parliaments, on university campuses and on the internet, but also in local churches, where replacement theology has undermined trust in the Jewish state.
Over the last ten years ECI has left its mark on history, as its activists have reached out in the European Union as well as in the United Nations.
‘There are many Jewish groups active at the European level, however for us, it is important that Christians have their own voice’, explains Sandell.
When Elie Wiesel spoke at an EU Emergency Summit in Brussels in 2004, he complained that only Jewish organisations seemed to react to the rise of anti-Semitism. ‘Where are all the others?’, he asked. 2013 marks the 10th Anniversary of the European “coalition of all the others.”