Friday, December 8, 2017
On Wednesday the 6th of December, ECPM organised a conference together with ECPM MEPs Bastiaan Belder and Branislav Škripek and the European Coalition for Israel. The conference centered on the significance of the Balfour Declaration, a marking point for contemporary history.
The Balfour Declaration stood at the basis of the foundation of the Jewish State of Israel. This conference was organised to commemorate the Declaration as it was written 100 years ago this year. Participants in the conference were welcomed and greeted by ECPM MEP Bas Belder who emphasized the importance of strengthening the cooperation between Israel and the EU. ECPM President and MEP Branislav Škripek shared with the audience his feeling that we are witnessing an immense spiritual shift that will have huge political and economic impact for the future.
Keynote speaker was Israel's Minister of Public Security & Strategic Affairs MK Gilad Erdan, who stressed that "Europe and Israel can enhance their cooperation in every field, from fighting terror to developing hi-tech. However, European countries must stop funding NGOs promoting BDS. The anti-Israel BDS campaign is illegitimate and immoral, and any form of European support for it undermines the chances for peace." Lord Turnberg from the UK House of Lords reflected on the Balfour Declaration, mentioning that "It would not have been possible for the British Government to have announced Balfour's Declaration - during a war in Europe that was going badly wrong - without the supports of its allies. It had the endorsement of the French, the Italians, the Russians and the Americans that allowed them to proceed. Even the Pope gave verbal support and, at least initially, so did the Grand Shariff Hussein and his son Prince Faisal in Mecca. But it was in San Remo in 1920, and the League of Nations in 1922, where the internationally agreed legal basis of a home for the Jews in Palestine was established. There the Balfour Declaration was converted from a simple, non-legal expression of support – a 'viewing with favour' - into the legal foundation for the Jewish State."
MK Robert Ilatov, Chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, encouraged his Christian friends to continue their work onwards from the Balfour Declaration and MK Yoel Hasson, Deputy Chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, reminded the audience that "we need to be connected to the values of the Balfour Declaration. Israel needs to be safe and open to everyone. An important value of Israel at that time was the realisation that they did not only need an army but also science, education and technology. This understanding connects Israel to Europe." The second part of the conference focused on technology and innovation, and ECPM MEP Arne Gericke closed the first part with concluding that Israel does not want war but just safety and a normal life for its people.
Israel is known worldwide for its leading role in hi-tech and innovation and examples of Israeli innovation projects were presented by Liron Rosenbaum, Director of Business Development of the renowned company OrCam Technologies. At OrCam, the power of artificial intelligence is harnessed by incorporating pioneering technology into a wearable platform which improves the lives of individuals who are blind, visually impaired and have reading difficulties. Using technology and innovation in normal society, they accomodate the visually impaired and blind and help them regain some of their independence. Other examples were shared by Hila Glick, co-founder of Innovation Without Borders who shared that Israel has a vibrant dynamic as more than 45 countries have an active representation in innovation there. Innovation Without Borders forms a community for the innovation representatives, connects them to the Israeli economic system and know-how, and accelerates their working frames and tools. Glick stressed that governments are enablers for technology, creating possibilities and supporting start-ups.
ECPM Director for European Affairs Leo van Doesburg ended the conference by thanking all participants and concluding that it is important to encourage innovation and see how we can increase, continue and strengthen the cooperation between Europe and Israel.
The conference was attended by several Members of the European Parliament and a wide range of representatives of different communities and NGOs.
Photo © European Union 201