IIACF Chairman’s Conference - International legislators advocate for Israel in Budapest
International legislators advocate for Israel in Budapest
SPECIAL REPORT by Etgar Lefkovits
BUDAPEST – A group of pro- Israel legislators from around the world on Monday concluded a two-day political conference in the Hungarian capital by urging their respective countries to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel, and to move their embassies to the city.
The move comes as the UN Security Council is expected to take up the Palestinians unilateral request for recognition of an independent state with east Jerusalem as their capital, and as Israel is finding itself increasingly isolated in the diplomatic arena, particularly in Europe.
The faith-based event, which was sponsored by the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation in coordination with Hungary’s largest evangelical church, also comes at a time of increasingly vocal far right in Hungary, which is openly anti-Semitic and, as the third largest faction in parliament, holds nearly one in every five seats.
The predominantly evangelical parliamentarians at the event, who are allied in sister-caucuses with the Knesset’s increasingly influential Christian Allies Caucus, were unequivocal in their support for Israel.
“We have to defend Israel not only against terrorist attacks but by way of diplomacy and actions in the international arena,” said Senator Lucio Malan of Italy, one of nearly two dozen MP’s from parliaments on five continents attending the event. “The lack of truth on the international market is worse than the lack of money on the international market,” he said.
“The European Union is a union of values and the only one country in the Middle East which shares those same values is Israel,” said Hannu Takkula, a member of the European Parliament from Finland. “Too many members of the European Parliament do not know the history of the Middle East.”
“As an American I support Israel because it is the right thing to do; as I Christian I support Israel because it is the right thing to do,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, (R-Co) who co-chairs the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, urging Israel’s allies to speak out against those who seek to isolate Israel on the world stage.
The highlight of the conference, which was meant to translate grassroots evangelical support for Israel into political support, and included events at the Parliament and the Hungarian Academy of Science, was a gala public event in support of Israel hosted by Budapest’s Faith Church led by Pastor Sandor Nemeth where some 12,000 Israeli-flag waving students burst forth with passion for Israel.
“I see the positive energy in this crowd and I see the evidence that Israel is not alone,” said Israel’s Ambassador to Hungary Ilan Mor. “Friends of Israel have come together to say no to terrorism and yes to peace,” he said.
“The evangelical community can be a critical factor in Israel’s relations with the world,” said MK Yoel Hasson of Kadima.
“Israel must see them as a true partner on the international arena.”
“Ït is not enough to speak about the importance of Jerusalem, but what is needed is to translate it to political action,” said Benny Elon, president of the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation who spearheaded Israel’s relations with the evangelical Christian world during his tenure as tourism minister.
“The unifying issue that has brought politicians from all over the world to this conference is Jerusalem,” said Josh Reinstein, director of the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus.
“It is our duty as men and women of faith to make sure that Jerusalem is never divided again.”
The venue of the conference also served to highlight the wide chasm that exists within Hungarian society which has seen the emergence of an openly anti-Semitic far-right political party.
“There is a concrete wall between the center-right and the extreme-right,” said Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen of the center-right government. He added that while the government was “not happy” with the rise of the openly anti-Semetic far-right, it did not get more than 20 percent of the public vote.
His remarks came in the palatial Hungarian Parliament located just down the road from where thousands of Jews were murdered by Hungarians on the banks of the Danube River in the last year of World War Two.
“We cannot hide our eyes that after 60 years a Hungarian fascist party and his ideology is present in the Hungarian Parliament,” said Hungarian MP Istvan Hiller of the opposition Socialist Party. He noted that the Holocaust did not start with putting people on trains to Auschwitz, but when people started to listening to ideas made in public during harsh economic conditions.
“It must be said that there is no cooperation with fascists,” he said.
Many of the legislators attending the conference concurred that six-and-a-half decades after the end of World War Two Israel was on the front lines in a war of civilization.
“The gate to the battle between civilizations is in Israel, and if we lose Israel we lose our civilization,” said Polish MP Jan Dziedziczak.
This article orginially appeared in the Jerusalem Post and was written by Etgar Lefkovits.
See photos from the event on the IIACF Facebook page here.