Monday, December 24, 2018
Brussels – Thursday December 5, the ECPM hosted a pro-Israel conference in cooperation with the European Coalition for Israel (ECI). ECPM MEP’s Škripek, Belder and Gericke were among the speakers of this event.
Our aim was to highlight different policy areas in which the EU can enhance its cooperation with Israel. It is encouraging to see that there is already so much collaboration on the practical level. On the other hand, it is regrettable that there are other areas where the economic collaboration is blocked by the EU, like the discriminative labeling of products from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
MEP Belder uses to make an effort for good relationships between the EU and its member states on the one side, and Israel on the other side, for many years now. He does so, most prominently as Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s Israel Delegation. He opened the conference with a clear-cut statement: “Israel is and will always be a source of inspiration and innovation for its EU partners!” On protecting Jewish communities and fighting anti-Semitism, he said: “This must not only be a case of reason, but above all a case of the heart. Churches and Christian organizations have a key role herein.”
Panel 1: EU, Israel, and European Jewry – the next 15 years
ECPM president and MEP Škripek emphasized the political similarities between Israel and Europe: "Israel is commonly branded as the only democracy in the Middle East. If this is truth, and my own experience says so, the natural consequence would be for the EU member states to cherish this democracy and see Israel as a natural partner that will help to promote peace and freedom of religion and belief in the region."
MEP Gericke commented on the importance of Jewish communities throughout the European Union: “Every day, whether I am in plenary or in Germany, I support Israel and all Jewish communities in Europe and I will always fight against antisemitism!” MEP Heinz Becker (EPP, AT), also among the speakers, added: “we have to stand against all threats to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, including the existential threat from Iran as well as from Hezbollah and the BDS movement.”
Co-organizer ECI celebrated its 15th birthday. Founding Director Tomas Sandell was very delightful after the conference, saying: ‘The ECI could not have received a better birthday present’, referring to the unanimously passing of the first ever EU-resolution condemning anti-Semitism in Europe, presented by the Ministers of Interior of the 28 EU member states, a few hundred meters away in the Council building.
Andrew Tucker, also involved in the ECI, made some comments on the Israel-Palestine peace process, saying that “it is time for Europe to reassess this policy.” Tucker, like the ECPM, strongly believes that “the key to achieving peace in the region is not by condemning Israel and pressuring it to give up land, but strengthening the rule of law.” By that, he means “sovereignty of the Jewish state, condemning violence and terror, and assisting Israel to protect the rights of all minorities.”
The State of Israel was represented by the new Deputy Chief of Mission to the EU Walil Abu-Haya: “Israel and Europe share the same set of values of freedom and democracy. This should be the base and the guidelines of all our many joint initiatives toward better future to all.”
Panel 2: The future of Israel – EU relations from Horizon 2020 to Horizon Europe
The second panel of the conference was chaired by ECPM MEP Bas Belder and Director for European Affairs Leo van Doesburg. The discussion focused on the possibilities of collaboration between Israel and the EU in the field of innovation as the Union is developing its new research and innovation program: Horizon Europe. Speakers during this part were:
- Jehuda Glick, Member of the Israeli Knesset
- Josh Reinstein President of the Israel Allies Foundation,
- Andrea Carignani di Novoli, European Commission DG Research & Innovation,
- Nili Shalev, Director General of the Israel-EU R&D Directorate from the Israel Innovation Authority;
- Shai Newman, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Compedia
During the conference, there also was a lot of attention for the cultural heritage of Jews in Europe. Rabbi Yehuda Glick, Member of the Israeli Knesset, led a Hanukah celebration. He lit the fourth candle of the Jewish Menorah which was brought in directly from Jerusalem, followed by a time of joyful singing of Jewish and Christian holiday songs.
More to read on the website of the European Coalition for Israel (report) and the Jerusalem Post