Anti-Israel demonstrators march behind a banner of the BDS organization in Marseille, June 13..
(photo credit: GEORGES ROBERT / AFP)
A European organization dedicated to rallying support for Israel announced Thursday it would confront a massive anti-Israel campaign anticipated in 2017 with an initiative of its own.
Speaking at an event at the Carlton Hotel in Tel Aviv, Swiss MP Corina Eichenberger-Walther said she had “reliable information that a network has been building itself since the middle of the past year already, a network planning a campaign throughout Europe and having started the necessary funding for that.”
The goal, she said, was to malign Israel during the year of the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, in which the IDF captured east Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights.
Israel, she said, will be accused of “having oppressed Palestine for 50 years and occupying it contrary to international law” and be painted as an “apartheid state and unjust nation.”
Eichenberger-Walther chairs the European Alliance for Israel (EAI), of which the Israeli-Swiss Association, which hosted Thursday’s event alongside the Israel-Switzerland and Liechtenstein Chamber of Commerce, is a member. The new Swiss ambassador to Israel, Jean-Daniel Ruch, also participated.
Predicting that international organizations and governments would join the ranks of the anti-Israel network, the EAI decided to develop what Eichenberger-Walther called a “friendship campaign.”
According to the EAI, it already has some 30,000 members in 23 countries and plans to make the campaign prominent in those countries.
In a closed-door session with a small group of journalists, Eichenberger-Walther admitted that the EAI had a way to go in order to counter the force of the expected anti-Israel campaign, noting that the hostile movement comprised not just BDS supporters, but also church and humanitarian groups.
“It’s a network,” she stressed, emphasizing that it had been raising funds for the campaign for over a year and was “ready” to begin its activities. She added that the EAI’s counter-campaign still lacked funds to realize its full scope, which will be focused on creating a greater understanding of Israel and highlighting its positive qualities in the fields of research, science, the environment, democracy and security.
One body founded by the EAI is the European Parliamentary Alliance for Israel, which seeks to unite pro-Israel parliamentarians.
While the defamation campaign will apparently present Israel as a lawless state, the EAI, she said, was working to ensure that there would be a strong parliamentary voice in Europe that “makes clear that Israel, with all its weaknesses and faults, is a democratic state that has a freely elected parliament and an independent judiciary.”
In the Swiss parliament, pro-Israel MPs have been working against government funding for anti-Israel NGOs, some of which have links to terrorist groups. A motion on the issue this year lost by just three votes, but Eichenberger-Walther said she believed government awareness about the issue had increased and it would now be more careful with its funding activities.
Members of the Israeli-Swiss Association have been in Israel for a week, meeting with lawmakers and representatives of the government. Eichenberger- Walther remarked that discussions with her Israeli counterparts had been fruitful, and their collaboration would help advance the campaign.
The EAI is a relatively new organization, officially founded in May 2015. It comprises mainly non-Jewish members who strive to show solidarity with Jewish communities in Europe.
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