UPDATED: “Anti-Semitism in Europe is as toxic and dangerous today as it was in the 1930s. Israel and the Jewish people face enormous, existential threats from Radical Islam and Replacement Theology. The world is increasingly turning against Israel and the Jews. And Europeans have a choice to make — will you bless Israel by defending her against a range of real and serious threats, or will you curse her by doing little or nothing?”
- 2003 headline — “Israel outraged as EU poll names it a threat to peace”
- 2004 headline — “Anti-Semitism ‘on rise in Europe’”
- 2008 headline — EU condemns ‘disproportionate’ use of force by Israel
- 2009 headline — UKIP leader attacks ‘trendy’ Israel-hate in EU Parliament
- 2009 headline – New EU foreign chief criticizes Israel [in first speech]
- 2010 headline — EU condemns Israel’s East Jerusalem construction plans
This was the challenge posed by Joel C. Rosenberg, President of The Joshua Fund, and Dave Olsson, TJF’s Director of Communications, when they traveled to Brussels last week. Joel was invited by the European Coalition for Israel (ECI) to participate in their “The Legitimacy of Israel” conference at the European Union Parliament building. The conference was by invitation-only, with participants made up of pro-Israel supporters, key multipliers, representatives from some of the largest churches across Europe, and various pastors and ministry leaders from Hungary, Sweden, Britain, Finland, the U.K., Italy, France, Switzerland, and Nigeria.
Joel joined Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), a leading European Rabbi, other ECI leaders, and our host, Tomas Sandell — founder and managing director of ECI — on two panel discussions. The first was a discussion on whether the European Union is an even handed partner in the peace process. The other panellists were the Deputy Israeli Ambassador to the EU and various Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), including MEP Bas Belder, who is the Chairman of the E.U.’s delegation to the Israeli Knesset. Each member of the panel took several minutes to deliver remarks, followed by a short time of Q&A from the audience.
Joel emphasized to the MEPs that there is a God in Israel who is watching what Europe and other nations are doing and will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel, as explained in Genesis 12:1-3. Noting the pattern of aggression by Hamas and Hezbollah, Joel stressed that the greatest threat in the region is not the conflict with the Palestinians but the nuclear weapons program being pursued by leaders in Iran who hold an End Times theology that causes them to believe that the way to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam is to annihilate Israel and the U.S.
This was followed by an exchange between two MEPs: a parliamentarian from Denmark who was a strong supporter of Israel and agreed with Joel, and the other who was a sharp critic of Israel and cautioned the E.U. to not be “distracted” by the Iranian threat and by American voices like Joel’s. This MEP urged the E.U. to instead focus on working out a just peace between the Palestinians and Israelis as the most pressing concern. Joel calmly but firmly countered that such E.U. leaders are “hyper-focused on the Palestinian issue” when “we are actually living in a time very similar to 1937 and 1938.” The top priority, Joel said, is that “a new Hitler is rising and he speaks Farsi.” Joel said that he did not want to see another war in the Middle East if at all possible, but he challenged the E.U. leader to explain what Europe will do if the world waits too long and Iran’s apocalyptic leaders actually acquire nuclear weapons. The MEP hemmed and hawed but had no solid answer. Nor did he seem to really understand the magnitude of the threats facing Israel and the Jewish people. To the contrary, he seemed obsessed with forcing Israel to keep making more and more concessions to the Palestinians, even those recent land grants of Gaza and southern Lebanon to the Arabs in the last decade led to more war, not to peace.
It was difficult to try to comprehend how such an intelligent, well educated senior political leader could be so blind to the gathering storms all around him. Joel responded firmly but politely, saying that the central issue is the existence of Israel:
“We’re out of time … if the EU leadership doesn’t completely cut off all economic interaction with Iran or take covert intelligence means to stop them, you are leaving it up to Iran—or Israel—to take military action.”
The second session was just as instructive, featuring Joel, a professor and former legal consultant to the Israeli government, a local pastor, the Rabbi of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, and a video address from former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold (now president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs), along with Tomas Sandell. Two notable commentaries were the professor, who spoke about the legitimacy of Israel and their rights under international law, and the second was Joel, who spoke in more depth about two threats to Israel: the threat of radical Islam, and the threat of Replacement Theology.
The response during our time in Brussels was very encouraging. We met several key European political and church leaders, and many of them were interested in learning more about The Joshua Fund and could be interested in coming with us to Israel next year for the 2011 Epicenter Conference. Several inquired about Joel’s availability to come and speak in Europe, particularly in Hungary and in the U.K.
This is an answer to prayer for The Joshua Fund staff. The question of beginning to engage with European leaders has been on our minds at for some time, and has been the subject of prayer, conversation, and some preliminary planning. Now the Lord seems to be opening the door to speak to some key church leaders across Europe. Please continue to pray for The Joshua Fund staff as we follow the Lord’s leading on this newly opened door.
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