ECI to mark 125 years since First Zionist Congress

Theodor HerzlBrussels, August 25th, 2022 – ECI will mark the 125th Anniversary of the First Zionist Congress with an educational webinar later today Thursday, 25th August, which will elaborate on the significance of Zionism today.

In an article in the Times of Israel today, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell writes that “it is high time for the Christian community to fully embrace the Jewish state.” Although the Zionist vision was supported by many influential Christian leaders at the time there were also many church leaders who were actively against the creation of a Jewish state. This divide sadly continues to this very day, with the World Council of Churches sticking to a very negative perception of Israel, and with a newly appointed general secretary who is on the record of calling Israel an apartheid state and even supporting the BDS movement, a stance which has been branded antisemitic by the German parliament.

In a written appeal Sandell calls on the WCC, which starts its 11th Assembly next week in Karlsruhe, Germany, to reconsider its position and instead start an honest conversation on how the church today can break free from its troubled legacy of animosity towards the Jews, which in some Christian circles has mutated to a hostility towards the Jewish state.

ECI will be represented at the official 125th Anniversary of the First Zionist Congress in Basel which begins on Sunday and is hosted by the World Zionist Organization. The president of Israel, Isaac Herzog will be the keynote speaker. Five years ago, ECI hosted its own 120th Anniversary Dinner in Basel with ECI Director for UN Affairs, Gregory Lafitte as the main speaker.

In the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897 Theodor Herzl gave special recognition to his Christian friends who had supported him in his efforts, among them Reverend William Hechler and Henri Dunant, the founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Henri Dunant would four years later receive the first Nobel Peace prize for his humanitarian work.

“It is in this noble tradition that we join those Christian leaders who have gone before us and support the Jewish state today,” Sandell said.