What do many European Muslims and Christians have in common? Answer: The hatred of Jews. In fact, anti-Semitism has increased significantly in Europe since 2000. The rise in anti-Semitic attacks across the European continent is associated with both Muslim anti-Jewish sentiment and the rise of far-right political parties. However, a number of studies conducted among the Muslim youth in various Western European countries have shown that Muslim children harbor far more anti-Semitic sentiments than Christian children. These sentiments have morphed into acts of terror against Jewish communities.
Tomas Sandell is a Christian who believes that it is the moral obligation of all people to stand up for the Jewish people and the State of Israel in these precarious times. He founded the European Coalition for Israel in Brussels, mobilizing Christian organizations, churches and grassroots activists from different backgrounds to counter the growing tide of anti-Semitism.
I spoke to him last week.
I don’t think that many of our readers, if any, know anything about your organization.
The European Coalition for Israel is the only non-Jewish, pro-Israel advocacy group working with the European Union. We are also active at the United Nations in New York. We feel that it’s important for there to be voices out there that aren’t Israeli, Jewish or even American to speak up on behalf of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
We were founded in 2003, so we’ve been around for some 14 years. It’s true that we haven’t done much marketing or public relations. We work under the radar, so to speak.
Is that on purpose?
It’s a combination of a few factors. There are times when you can be more effective if you don’t make a lot of noise. But there’s another side to it as well. We came to the realization that with the few resources we have, it would be better to prioritize and just get the work done rather than spending time and money on outreach and marketing. But now I think the time is right to be more open and let people know about us.
What does the Israeli government think about your organization?
We met with the Israeli prime minister just a few months ago in Jerusalem, and he started out by saying, “You are our best friends.” That’s obviously a very nice thing to say, but what he meant was that evangelical Christians and Europeans who stand up for Israel make a big difference.