SUMMER BOOTCAMP: PRO-ISRAEL AND COUNTER-ANTISEMITISM

Brussels 8 July. A triumvirate of Brussels-based Jewish and Israel advocacy groups have begun building a Europe-wide army of young and engaged activists, beginning with a Bootcamp that began on Sunday and concluded today (Monday 8 July).

The intensive two-day course from Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA) with partners European Jewish Association (EJA) and the European Centre for Jewish Students (ECJS) brought young activists and want-to-be activists to the European Union’s capital from Iceland to Romania and everywhere in between.

With expert speakers from StandWithUs, the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and media  experts from the Guardian newspaper and Euronews, participants got stuck into the basics of lobbying and media relations, whilst Swedish Israel advocate Saskia Pantell sharing top tips on best practice and winning on social media.

A gala dinner took place where participants heard from holocaust survivor and president of the Jewish Forum in Antwerp, Regina Suchowolski-Sluzny and watched videos of good and bad interviews and Palestinian children’s tv segments versus Kazakhstan’s infamous Borat.

The participants represent the first draft of a new “officer corps” of young activists, who will go back to their countries and advocate for Israel, build local armies and effectively counter anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic narratives, and will be regularly briefed and trained on best practice and campaigns from Brussels and from Israel, as well as sharing knowledge and supporting each other.

EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, said in a statement after the event:

“Our Bootcamp was an intensive course in advocacy. Across Europe, with rising antisemitism directly linked to rising antizionism, the stakes have rarely been higher. The picture from the youth in Scandinavia was particularly shocking. We wanted to inspire, to show these brave young activists that they are not alone, that there is support and to help them build networks, not only for mutual support, but for best practise in countering these antisemitic narratives.

“The bootcamp is the start of a long journey for these young “soldiers”, and one that wil help them lead, encourage and inspire others in the months and years ahead.”

 


Making the Case for Freedom- Human Rights and Free Speech in Europe Today

Together with the Shema and the Sallux political foundation, we had the pleasure to host Dennis Prager from leading #FreeSpeech platform PragerU.

The conference was hosted by MEP Branislav Škripek and included Hungarian State Secretary Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky and our chairman,  Rabbi Menachem Margolin who spoke on the issue of freedom of religion as it relates to Jewish life and antisemitism in Europe today. The video from the event is available HERE


Human Shields, Complex Realities of the Modern Battlefield.

Child killer, organ harvester, Nazi, Occupier, blood thirsty murderers. These are just some of the words some people use to describe the soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces.

As a pro-Israel advocacy group here in Brussels, you would quite rightly expect us to take a completely different view.

And we do. We support the Israel Defence Forces, for any number of reasons. And we find the insults thrown at them disgusting and reprehensible, particularly as those accusing them have no idea what they are talking about, nor the reality on the ground for these brave men and women.

So, when the opportunity came, EIPA was delighted to partner with My Truth, an organisation of serving IDF reserve soldiers who wanted, like us, to inform and share their stories.

The “Human Shields” project of My Truth, which we presented to the European Parliament this week, describes the cynical use made by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups, of their civilian population as human shields. “A terrorist who throws a grenade under the cover of small children, or women who stand in the line of fire to absorb the fire themselves are few examples of the human rights violations committed by the terror organizations,” says Avihai Shorshan, My Truth’s director.

“We want to tell the whole world who are the real war criminals in this conflict. We must put an end to the slanders and lies being levelled against our soldiers around the world,” he added.

Our event, kindly sponsored by EPP MEP Ramona Manescu and Socialist MEP Andi Cristea, was aimed at getting an understanding beyond the clichés and emotional rhetoric. 

None of us really know what goes on in a conflict, and thank goodness most of us will never have to.

We may agree or disagree with the conflict, but what isn’t up for debate are the experiences in dealing with human shields, with an enemy that doesn’t respect basic humanity, and that put their own citizens in the way of harm cynically and deliberately.

We were delighted to see a packed room, where parliamentarians including senior figures like Victor Bostinaru and Fulvio Martusciello attended and spoke freely, underlining that the EU must do more to counter the terrorist narratives.

A lively question and answer session followed with EU diplomats and members of the European External Action service, for the first time, having the opportunity to ask soldiers directly of their experiences instead of getting filtered news.

EIPA would like to thank Gilad Segal, Eli Bogdan, Lital Shemesh and Avihai Shorshan for having the courage and tenacity to address the European Parliament, an institution that is often behind many ill-informed resolutions and positions on Israel on the realities faced by an enemy that doesn’t adhere to the most basic and common moral or legal conventions.

It is our firm intention to work with My Truth again again after the European Elections so they can give their testimonies again to a new generation of parliamentarians and their staffers from across the EU Member States.


JLM hi-tech event: Scaling Up JLM’s Ecosystem to Create Europe’s First Google

JERUSALEM’S HIGH TECH PIONEERS IN BRUSSELS FOR EU TWINNING CONFERENCE
 “No politics, let’s get this done together!”

Brussels, 7th June, 2018. The brief is ambitious, “Scaling up Jerusalem’s ecosystem to create Europe’s first google”, but when European Parliamentarians, EU Institution policy heads and Jerusalem’s brightest and best high-tech entrepreneurs and venture partners got together in the European Parliament, the message was clear, “no politics, let’s just get it done together!”

The conference was organised by the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Israeli Ministry of Jerusalem and heritage and their partners in Europe the European Jewish Association, Europe Israel Public Affairs, the European Jewish Community Centre and the European Coalition for Israel, and hosted by Romanian Socialist MEP Andi Cristea and Liberal Lithuanian MEP Petras Austrevicius.

Israel and the EU already co-operate within the framework agreement, but there is scope to scale things up more, a message that was shared with the conference. “If you fund the scaling up, we will double it”, said Jerusalem Development Authority CEO Eyal Haimovski on the opening panel.

The conference itself focused on the technicalities of setting up an ecosystem, and the ingredients needed for it to flourish, over a busy three panels, the busy Committee Room humming with guests, heard about incentivizing on the part of policy makers to encourage and stimulate action and innovation, the role of venture capital and creating a business angel network, embracing failures as part of success, and lastly but my no means least, establishing and nurturing innovative grass roots communities.

Speaking at the event, MEP Andi Cristea underlined:  

Jerusalem’s ecosystem is a unique asset and an incredible success story. I am glad our friends from the city have accepted our invitation and will share their experience here, within the premises of the European Parliament, amongst friends and to the benefit of our friendship, our people and our common future.”

It’s time for the politicians to do something they don’t like doing: shut up and let the experts take the lead on this issue,” MEP Petras Austrivicius added, and made a strong pitch for Vilnius as a tech hub, saying it had long been known as the ‘Jerusalem of the North’.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the founder of the European Jewish Association and Europe Israel Public Affairs who organised and managed the event in Brussels said,

There is a clear appetite to co-operate and develop the EU-Israel innovation partnership further, and in particular foster ties going forward with Jerusalem, to learn and, we hope replicate, the city’s great and ongoing successes.

“In talking to many of the participants, from the EU and from Israel, the message is clear: No politics, let’s just get this done. Today’s conference was a solid and inspiring start to that process where networks were made, inspiration given and with potential business very much in the offing.”

Following the conference, a twinnovation lunch took place in EIPA’s HQ, addressed by His Excellency Leshno-Yaar, where EU high-tech companies were able to ‘speed date’ with their Jerusalem counterparts.

JLMhi-tech day was finished with a bigHigh Tech Night celebration in Place Luxembourg. where the crowds got to try some amazing Jerusalem street food, check out the amazing technology coming out of the city and have a couple of beers.


The celebration of Israel’s 70th Anniversary with MEPs and H.E. Ambassador Leshno-Yaar

Cross-Party MEPs and senior Staffers came together under the EIPA banner today in wishing Israel’s Ambassador to the EU and NATO, Mr Aharon Leshno-Yaar well and celebrating Israel’s 70th Birthday.

The celebration included a briefing, some inspiring and funny videos supplied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about Israel and what it means to be Israeli, and a delicious Kosher lunch.

The President of EIPA’s Political Board, Lars Adaktusson MEP, introduced the Ambassador with some warm and encouraging words:

“I believe I speak on behalf of my colleagues, when I say that we will always fight back against those who question Israel’s right to exist. And those who violate the rights of the Jewish communities in Europe.

It´s this commitment, for ensuring the safety of the State of Israel, that shapes also some of our stories.Over the last years, many of us have dedicated time and energy to push forward initiatives, like rejecting BDS, a movement who seeks the isolation of Israel from the international community though academic, cultural and economic boycotts

Reforming the EU aid, to the Palestinians by installing proper checks and balances in order to denounce instigation to violence and hate – and prevent corruption. Highlighting the media bias when it comes to reporting about Israel, and criticizing the political double standard that Israel so often is subjected to.

Our European heads of state have a lot to learn from the Israeli visionary leadership in the challenges we face today in the Middle East.

An imperative reality based assessment of the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal, aimed at curbing the well-documented Iranian nuclear ambitions, and coming to terms with the fact that securing the region cannot be done without addressing the Iranian state-sponsored terrorism – and the oppressive nature of the regime that become so self-evident during this January protests.

Dear Friends, hopefully this luncheon will serve as an opportunity to discuss today’s challenges and possibilities for Israel.”

His Excellency welcomed everybody and gave a short 30,000 feet analysis of the challenges and opportunities faced by the State of Israel today. In his remarks he said,

“Israel and the EU have strong relations in various fields and shared values. While Israel faces threats from the north and from the south, the EU should clearly show its commitment to Israel’s security”

The event concluded with a lively question and answer session covering everything from Turkey to what greater opportunities and co-operation can be explored between the EU and Israel in the years ahead. 


Exhibition: From the Balfour Declaration to the Jewish Nation

EIPA in partnership with MEP Peter Niedermüller Péter hosted the opening of the photo exhibition “From Balfour Declaration to the Jewish Nation, a celebration of Israeli life through the lens of David Seymour/Chim”, featuring pictures of life in Israel in the early days of its statehood. MEP Lars Adaktusson (EPP, Sweden) commend the resilience of the Jewish nation in the face of adversity, and underlined the European responsibility of fighting anti-semitism and any form of delegitimization of Israel. The evening concluded with the lighting of the first candle for Chanukah.

 


Advocacy meeting with H.E. Minister Gilad Erdan

Europe Israel Public Affairs & European Jewish Association had the pleasure of hosting yesterday a lively town hall discussion between Jewish community leaders and heads of Pro-Israel organizations from across Europe with the Israeli Minster Gilad Erdan, Minister for Public Safety and Strategic Affairs. Minister Erdan attentively listened and responded to the concerns of Jewish community leaders, thanked the leaders for their pro-active approach in countering the BDS narrative, and offered the support of his Strategic Affairs ministry for empowering the European Jewish diaspora in its efforts against the delegitimization of Israel.

 


Briefing and Dinner with Israeli Minister for Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information, Gilad Erdan

On the 6th of December EIPA was honored to host, in partnership with the Minister for Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Gilad Erdan, a briefing and dinner for distinguished MEP friends and key staffers at our HQ.


Ambassadorial Briefing and Dinner

On the 5th September 2017, EIPA held an Ambassadorial Briefing and Dinner with His Excellency Ambassador to the EU and NATO Aharon Leshno-Yaar which was attended by 18 high ranking cross-Party MEPs and some of their Chiefs of Staff.


ISRAEL include. invest. involve 3 ‘i’s to counter b.d. and s

23/01/2017  European Parliament , Brussels.

Want to see what supporting Israel and fighting BDS looks like in the European Parliament? EIPA is delighted and humbled by the over 250 people that came out to show their disgust at BDS and their support for Israel at our event in the European Parliament on Monday evening. With distinguished guests from the Israel and the EU’s political scene to schoolkids from Antwerp, all contributed to an unforgettable and inspiring evening, culminating in a rousing Hatikvah and Isreali street food party. If you missed it, well you missed it! Enjoy the pics nonetheless.


Exhibition: Rockets into Rosses

“Control your aid money and put me out of business”, Rockets into Rosses creator tells European Parliamentarians. 
Strasbourg 6 October 2016. Israeli artist and Rockets into Roses creator Yaron Bob urged members of the European Parliament to increase their controls on EU aid into Gaza, so that they can put him out of business.
The Rockets into Roses creator, who takes rocket shells fired at Israel and transforms them into roses and other beautiful sculptures, exhibits his work around the world. He lives in Yated, southern Israel, which borders the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The area bore the brunt of thousands of indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza. It is also where many terror tunnels are routinely uncovered.
Mr Bob was in the European Parliament in Strasbourg for a week long exhibition of his work that was organised by Brussels based pro-Israel advocacy group Europe Israel Public Affairs and hosted by the Chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation to Israel, Fulvio Martusciello MEP.
Speaking to the Parliamentarians at an evening reception,  Mr Bob said,
“Life is sometimes full of ironies. Here I am talking to you on the same day that a rocket landed in Sdrot, and the same day that the Gaza bound women’s flotilla sought to break the blockade.
“I can’t imagine that had they succeeded they would have asked for Hamas to return the millions it has stolen in aid money, to stop executing gays and lesbians or anyone who speaks against their death cult, much less ask Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel.
“But I can ask you, members of the European Parliament.  You send millions into Gaza. Pease, please start properly controlling it. Spend it instead on education projects promoting peace, that teach children that terror and violence is not the answer. Hamas don’t care about their people. They only care about building rockets and digging tunnels.
“Control the aid, and put me out of business.” 

EIPA director Alex Benjamin said,

“I fell in love with the concept of rockets into roses as soon as I saw it two years ago, and knew EIPA needed to bring the artist and his work to the European Parliament

“Judging by the positive reaction from parliamentarians, and staffers it seems that many shared my passion.

” It is such a strong and meaningful message, turning terror into beauty. And one that sums up Israeli resilience and the desire for peace. EIPA was proud to be part of it”

 

 

 


Exchange of views with Mr Abu Khaled Toameh on Palestinian Incitement

The Parliamentary working group looking into EU aid in MENA (Middle East region) held its inaugural meeting in the European Parliament last Wednesday .

Attended by most of the working group MEPs and some of their staffers, the group, instigated by EIPA, was honoured to hear from Mr Abu Khaled Toameh, a renowned Israeli-Arab journalist, commentator and proud Palestinian. With a rapier wit, Mr Toameh is an advocate for wholesale change in the Palestinian Leadership, a position that has led to his move to Jerusalem and frequent threats from the Palestinian political leadership.

Mr Toameh spoke to the group about Palestinian incitement, from when you are born to when you die – as he put it – the Palestinian population are fed lies and conspiracy theories about Jews, that prompt not only attacks, but fundamentally leave the population completely unprepared for making peace with Israel. Most of this incitement is perpetuated by the Palestinian Authority, which receives around 170 Million euros a year in direct subsidies from EU aid (please note we are not talking about stopping or cutting aid to the population as a whole, just to the Palestinian Authority.)

Mr Toameh urged the working group to leverage this direct aid, “Make them accountable!, if you make them only 5% more accountable you will have achieved something”, he said. What motivation is for them to change when they know every year a nice cheque is coming? he added.

There then followed a lengthy q&a between the working group and Mr Toameh.


Is there a dark side to EU funding?

 

On July 12, EIPA, MEP Fulvio Martusciello and MEP Artis Pabriks hosted a hearing on conditioning EU AID going towards the Middle East. The hearing was entitled: “Is there a dark side to EU AID? Building safeguards and ‘conditionality’ for EU funding in the Middle East.”

The hearing also saw EIPA formally launch a Cross Party Working Group on EU AID in the MENA region. The Working Group is looking at building in ‘conditionality’ when it comes to EU funding in the Middle East.

‘Conditionality’ in plain English means that funding can be cut or stopped entirely when recipients directly promote or incite violence.

MEP Pabriks, who chaired the hearing, focused on the impact that conditionality would bring to EU Aid. A strong advocate of EU soft power, he underlined the importance of EU Aid in bringing peace to the region. However, it can’t be done without controls from elected officials of the EU he added.

Mr Hans Gustaf Wessberg, the Swedish member of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) explained the role of the ECA in the funding process,  focusing on the auditing methods used in monitoring and assessing the efficacy and impact of the Aid programs on the ground.

Mr Wessberg himself personally led an audit team to the West Bank. His team went to Gaza but for security reasons he was advised not to go. The Court of Auditor’s report can be found HERE. The ECA found several irregularities, notably that EU funds are paying wages to PA officials in Gaza that are not working. 

He concluded his presentation by stating that “The commission has not made sufficient use to leverage reforms in the civil area”, and that “conditionality should be used more”.

The third speaker was EIPA’s Director Alex Benjamin. His presentation gave the audience an overview of how EU funds are currently being used by the PA. The Palestinian Authority set up a Martyrs Fund, that pays the families of terrorists that have killed Israelis.

Many schools are also named after those terrorists, inciting the children to follow their example.

Members of the EU Parliament that attended the event were very interested and an Q&A followed the presentations.

The Working Group will meet for the first time this autumn.


Visit of Ben-Gurion MA and PHD Students

On Wednesday 29th of June, EIPA hosted a group of 20 students from Ben Gurion University, Israel. 

After meeting Foreign Affairs’ Chairman Elmar Brok, EIPA introduced them to MEP Tamas Meszerics, coordinator of the Foreign Affairs committee for the Greens. He briefed them on his work at the European Parliament and restated that the Parliament believed that the only solution is a two state solution.

Over lunch, Alex Benjamin, EIPA Director explained EIPA’s work in the European institutions, before joining the group for a meeting with Raul Fuentes Milani, Head of Unit Middle East, Israel and Palestine at the EEAS.

We are always glad to show students from Israel and Europe the reality of EU-Israel relationship. 


EIPA advisory board meeting

Today (25th of February) Members of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee and MEPs on EIPA’s Advisory Board met with Mr. Ohad Cohen, Head of Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry.

The joint event in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Trade and Mission to the EU, underlined the importance of strong EU-Israel bilateral trade relations.

With a current détente in relations between the EU and Israel following the fallout of the labelling guidelines, MEPs, key staffers and representatives of the Ministry of Trade, held a round table discussion about the clear mutual benefits to both Israel and the EU of continued trade arrangements and Research and Development programs.

MEPs did however hear of Israel’s concerns about the spill-over effects of the labelling guidelines and the associated possibility of a “quiet boycott” of Israeli companies and products which may happen under the radar.

Another key question raised was how to ensure that EU-Israel economic relations were decoupled from matters relating to the on-going political machinations of the peace process.


Safeguarding the Peace Process Can the EU Be an “Honest Broker”?

After a difficult end to 2015 in the EU-Israel relationship due to the labelling guidelines, EIPA kicked off 2016 with a hugely successful standing room only event in the European Parliament entitled “Safeguarding the Peace Process: can the EU be an honest broker?”

Hosted by European Parliament Vice-President Pascu and Lars Adaktusson MEP, the cross party event heard from distinguished Israeli and EU speakers on the subject of Palestinian incitement, conditioning EU aid on a rejection of Incitement to violence and lastly on the EU’s role in the Peace Process. 


EIPA Advisory Board Breakfast Briefing

Today Members of the European Parliament and EIPA’s Advisory Board took part in a special breakfast briefing with H.E. Ambassador of Israel to the European Union, David Walzer on the recent wave of terror attacks on Israeli civilians. The MEPs discussed other pressing issues for the EU-Israel relationship such as the security implications of the ISIS presence in Iraq and Syria and the new dynamics in the region as a whole.

 

 


EIPA Advisory Board Delegation to Israel, 30th of June – 3rd of July 2015

Last week, Europe Israel Public Affairs hosted 7 Members of the European Parliament for a three day delegation to the State of Israel.

 

Many were members of the EIPA Advisory Board, made up of Members of the European Parliament from across the political spectrum. We held a series of meetings with Israeli ministers, government officials and Members of the Israeli Parliament. The agenda also included a briefing by IDF Lt. Yitzak Malca on Mount Bental, on the challenges and dangers IDF medical units face while trying to save Syrian refugees that cross over the Syrian border in order to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.

Minister Gilad Erdan, recently appointed to head Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Minister of Information, emphasised the strategic interests that the EU and Israel share while pointing out the tension arising when the EU puts pressure on only one partner in the peace process. Setting in place and carrying out economic sanctions against Israel not only alienates Israel, but also sends the message to the Palestinians that the EU rewards unilateral action without asking them to address the existing Palestinian terror infrastructure.

The delegation was also briefed by the Head of the National Security Council, Yossi Cohen on the wider Middle East and on the various Islamic terrorist branches competing for territory and ideological supremacy all around Israel’s borders. Mr. Cohen also updated the MEPs on Israel’s position regarding the current E3+ 3 nuclear negotiations with Iran, underlining that regardless of the nuclear deal, Iran remains the main sponsor of global terrorism.

The Chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Israel, MEP Fulvio Martusciello, together with the rest of the delegation, met with MK Yaakov Peri, his newly appointed Israeli counterpart. The two chairs agreed to hold a joint Knesset-EP meeting in the next couple of months.

Because Israel is a pluralist democratic state, it was important that the Delegation also had the opportunity to hear the voice of the opposition party, Zionist Union, MK Nachman Shai, who shared his party position on the many social issues that Israel needs to address as a country.


The Middle East: re-adjusting EU’s great expectations

Europe Israel Public Affairs (EIPA), in cooperation with MEP Bas Belder (ECR, the Netherlands) and MEP Fulvio Martusciello (EPP, Italy) organised a public hearing on “the Middle East: the EU’s re-adjusting its great expectations”.

At the lead of the P5+1 talks, the EU should re-adjust its expectations of being able to separate Iran nuclear’s file, where an agreement is expected to be reached before June, from its hegemonic expansion in already three major capitals of the Middle East, respectively Damascus, Sanaa and Bagdad. Amid rising tensions of the sectarian conflict between the Shiia Iran and Sunni Gulf monarchies and an unpredictable Iran, it would be a mistake both for the regional security and for EU’s interests to separate the nuclear file from Iran’s expansion of its ‘regional empire’.

Prof. Dan Schueftan, a renowned senior Israeli scholar and director of the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University, offered a thought provoking analysis about the current state of affairs in the Middle East, the Israeli perception of EU’s policies regarding the region as well as recommendations for EU adjustments to its ENP South policies.