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Press Statements

ICEJ to welcome group of Ukrainian Jews at Ben-Gurion on Sunday

On Sunday, 4 May 2014, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be sponsoring the flights of a group of 19 Ukrainian Jews making aliyah to Israel due to the on-going crisis in The Ukraine. Arranged through the Jewish Agency, the arriving group includes three families and three single women who are part of a significant increase in Ukrainian Jewish immigration to Israel this year in order to escape the unrest of recent months.

Responding to an urgent request from the Jewish Agency, the ICEJ has been raising funds from Christians worldwide over recent weeks and has already collected enough donations to cover the flights to Israel for an initial 100 Ukrainian Jews. This is the first group sponsored by the Christian Embassy that will be arriving in Israel.

Anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups were already on the rise in The Ukraine even before the current political crisis erupted, and many Jews no longer feel safe there and are preparing to leave for Israel. The Jewish Agency reported recently that the number of Jews making aliyah from Ukraine has already doubled so far this year compared to 2013.

Over recent decades the Christian Embassy has assisted more than 115,000 Jews in making aliyah to Israel, including at least 42,000 Jews from Ukraine. Some of these earlier Ukrainian Jewish immigrants were courageously evacuated by volunteer Christians from conflict zones, such as during the fighting in the Transnistria region along the disputed border with Moldova in 1992.

"The unfolding crisis in Ukraine has meant an even more uncertain future for the Jewish community there, and we have acted swiftly once again to bring needy and endangered Jews home from this troubled region. It will be a privilege for our staff to welcome this first group home on Sunday," said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ Executive Director.

ICEJ Delivers bomb shelters to Gaza border towns amid rocket war

On Thursday (10 July), the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem delivered two portable bomb shelters to the community of Kfar Aza along the Gaza border, which has been repeatedly targeted by Hamas rocket attacks over recent days. The delivery of the shelters came the day after an art school for the community’s children suffered a direct hit by a Kassam rocket from Gaza.

The ICEJ’s Executive Director, Dr. Jürgen Bühler, was on hand today for the shelter deliveries as a show of solidarity with the farming village, whose 750 residents have endured hundreds of rocket and mortar barrages over the past decade. The new shelters will serve the kibbutz dining hall and its youth center.

“The Christian Embassy is committed to helping those Israeli communities under the greatest rocket threat to find shelter and weather this storm,” said Bühler. “It was a great feeling to be able to quickly supply these two new mobile bomb shelters for our embattled friends in Kfar Aza, and we are as grateful as they are for the Christians around the world who made it possible.”

Over the past seven years, the ICEJ has provided more than 40 portable bomb shelters to Israeli communities along the Gaza border suffering under frequent Hamas rocket attacks. The Christian Embassy is currently raising emergency funds from Christians worldwide to cover the costs for more bomb shelters and to meet the urgent social needs of those under the greatest rocket threat in the Gaza periphery.

This latest shelter delivery is the result of an urgent request received by the ICEJ on Tuesday from former MK Shai Hermesh for bomb shelters for his home kibbutz of Kfar Aza. Many residents were in the community dining hall for breakfast that morning when the Code Red siren went off five separate times, with rockets falling all around. But the dining hall does not have any bomb shelter, leaving everyone in distress. So Hermesh contacted the ICEJ with a request for help. The Christian Embassy immediately ordered two portable bomb shelters, which were delivered today.

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

1)  The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem delivered two mobile bomb shelters to Kfar Aza on Thursday, one day after the community's art school for children suffered a direct rocket hit from Hamas in nearby Gaza.

2)  ICEJ executive director Dr. Jürgen Bühler (center), former MK Shai Hermesh (left), and Operation Lifeshield director Shmuel Bowman were on hand on Thursday for the delivery of two mobile bomb shelters to the embattled community of Kfar Aza.

3)  Inside the Kfar Aza children's art school damaged by a direct Kassam rocket hit from Gaza on Wednesday.

FOR MORE, CONTACT:
David Parsons, ICEJ Media Director
Email:  david.parsons@icej.org
Cell:  052 381 6214

The ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles has a New Home – The Jerusalem Pais Arena

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is pleased to announce that our annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration will have a new home this coming October 10-15, as we will be moving the week-long event to the brand new Jerusalem Pais Arena, near Malha mall.

For the past 33 years, the ICEJ has hosted its Feast gathering in the Jerusalem Convention Center, drawing thousands of Christians each year for a dynamic celebration of this biblical festival when the nations are welcomed in Jerusalem. This year, however, the ICEJ’s Feast will be held in the ultra-modern Pais Arena, which was inaugurated last week by Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat.

With 11,600 seats on eight levels, along with special seating galleries and executive boxes plus a massive center LED screen, Barkat described the Arena as “the most advanced, state-of-the-art venue of its kind in the Middle East.”

Mayor Barkat has been particularly encouraging about moving the Feast of Tabernacles to the new Arena, offering the Christian Embassy the privilege of hosting the first major international gathering in the new facility.

Coming on the heels of the recent Gaza conflict, the ICEJ’s Feast 2014 will also be a huge statement of solidarity with Israel by the thousands of Christians expected to show up for the festival.

“Our move to this new facility in Jerusalem is a very exciting development which will allow us to further grow the Feast of Tabernacles,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ Executive Director. “We believe that in the years to come, this new hall will be filled every Sukkot with even more pro-Israel Christians from around the globe. So this is a thrilling moment for the city of Jerusalem and for our ministry.”

This year’s Feast schedule includes the traditional Israeli Guest Night, when the event is opened up to thousands of Israelis to enjoy a musical program geared for a Jewish audience. On Tuesday evening, 14 October, Israelis can enjoy their first experience in the new Arena along with their Christian friends from around the world, featuring special performances by Israeli and foreign artists.

For more information, contact:  David Parsons, ICEJ Media Director; Email: david.parsons@icej.org; Cell:  052 381 6214

ICEJ Condemns Kansas City Shootings at Jewish Center

ICEJ CONDEMNS DEADLY SHOOTINGS AT KANSAS CITY JEWISH CENTER, WARNS OF GLOBAL INCREASE IN ANTI-SEMITISM AND THE NEED FOR BETTER AWARENESS AND EDUCATION

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) strongly condemns the violent hate-crime perpetrated outside the Jewish community center in Kansas City on Sunday, April 13th, 2014. In what would appear to have been an attack motivated by anti-Semitism on the very eve of Passover, a lone gunman opened fire outside a Jewish community center and a nearby retirement community, indiscriminately killing three individuals who were merely visiting the communities.

Reports indicate that none of the victims were in fact Jewish, but rather Christians who became the unlikely targets of one man’s misdirected, white-supremacist hatred.

The ICEJ has been warning for years that acts of anti-Semitism are on the rise around the globe with little being done, especially from a public awareness standpoint, to address the issue through the media. It’s high time that the mainstream news networks start calling attention to this growing concern before more people are hurt or killed.

The ICEJ also calls upon governments and local authorities to do a better job of condemning and taking action against all acts and expressions of anti-Semitism to curb this worrying trend. Much is needed in the way of education, in all levels of society, to be sure that all of our citizens understand the danger that anti-Semitism represents to us all, as sadly exhibited in this most recent attack.

For its part, the ICEJ has been working tirelessly in partnership with Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial, to help train and educate Christian leaders from around the world so that they in turn can impact their communities and help turn the tide against this pervasive evil.

We implore people of all faiths to join with us in the fight against anti-Semitism, to expose any of its adherents and to help rid the world of this curse for the sake of all humanity.
 


Download the official press statement

PCUSA Crosses the Line

A disturbing study guide entitled “Zionism Unsettled” has been published by an arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) The publication is filled with distorted facts and a historical narrative so extreme that some Jewish groups are calling it “hate speech.” It vilifies Israel and Zionism while ignoring Palestinian terrorism, calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State, and absconds Arab leaders of their culpability in the plight of the Palestinian people. The study guide proves that the PCUSA has aligned itself with the most radical of positions by equating Zionism with racism, comparing it to centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, and calling for a rethinking of the Holocaust to include the plight of the Palestinians.

The chapter on “Evangelicals and Christian Zionism” skews the facts to portray Christians who support Israel as dangerous and a threat to Middle-East peace. The chapter is taken largely from the writings of Dr. Gary Burge, an evangelical Presbyterian and Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, who admits to holding a form of Replacement Theology in spite of the fact that it was the root of centuries of Christian anti-Semitism.

Replacement Theology teaches that God abandoned the Jewish people, has broken His promises to them, and has chosen a new people, the Church. The danger with this theology is that it implies that the Jewish people have been rejected and discarded due to their sin and failures. It is fertile ground for the proliferation of anti-Semitism and should be guarded against.

The Apostle Paul said in Romans 11 that God is not finished with the Jewish people and that their calling is irrevocable. In Hebrews 6, he cites God’s faithfulness to the Abrahamic Covenant to encourage beleaguered Christians to keep their faith, knowing they serve a faithful God.

Nevertheless, Burge goes so far as to say that the New Testament teaching spiritualizes and universalizes the Old Testament land promises to the Jewish people by treating them as spiritual metaphor. While it is true that in Galatians 3:29 the Apostle Paul said that Christians do enjoy the blessings of Abraham as spiritual heirs, he did not claim that they “replaced” the natural heirs nor inherit the land. This would require a rewriting of scripture since the land promise to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was “everlasting” and is confirmed forty-six times throughout the books of the Old Testament.

Psalm 105 says that God does not break covenant, nor alter the word that has gone out of His mouth, therefore, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would receive the promises made to them. It is because of these scriptures that the disciples asked Jesus if He was going to “restore the kingdom to Israel now” in Acts 1:6. He simply said the time was not for them to know, clearly indicating that it would happen in God’s timing. In Luke 21, Jesus said that Jerusalem would once again be under Jewish sovereignty and put it in an eschatological context.

Burge attempts then to diminish the reach of Christian Zionism by limiting it as dispensational and dual covenant in theology. While dispensationalism is a theology favorable towards Israel, only one in every ten Christians is a dispensationalist. A much larger number of Christians, from a wide-variety of denominations and theological persuasions, supported the restoration of the Jews to their homeland; including John and Charles Wesley, Robert Murray MacCheynne, Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, Charles Spurgeon, the Puritans, Professor Jacob Janeway of the Scottish National Church, Martin Luther King and many others.

Christian Zionism is also not “dual covenant.” Mainstream Christian Zionists are found in all the historical and contemporary church movements, including the Presbyterian Church, and they most certainly believe that Jesus' finished work on the cross is their only grounds of salvation. While the basis for Christian Zionism is found in the Abrahamic Covenant, in which God announced to Abraham His plan to create a people through whom He would carry out His plan to redeem the world, the Abrahamic covenant needed the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant to bring about that great salvation.

Israel's role, as the vehicle of God’s redemptive plan, does not make her better than any other people groups but rather more accountable to God. The Jewish people are chosen for the blessing of the nations, including the Palestinian people. However, this study construes the chosenness of the Jewish people to be a form of racism that esteems them higher than other peoples, and therefore, not held to the same standard of accountability.

The PCUSA may wish that Christians that support Israel and the Jewish people are a fringe group, but the fact is that some 70% of Americans are favorable towards Israel. There are a number of reasons why Americans support Israel: personal experience while touring Israel, admiration for Israeli technology and innovation, or appreciation for the only democracy in the Middle East. Bible-believing Christians support Israel because of their reading of the scriptures. In short, God has brought the Jewish people back to their homeland in fulfillment of His promises to Abraham and millions of Christians want to bless and help them.

Conversely, the PCUSA has aligned itself with extreme and radical groups such as Sabeel. Founded by Naim Ateek, Sabeel propagates Palestinian Liberation Theology that disregards any portion of scripture that disagrees with Ateek’s anti-Semitic views. Hence, right out of the Sabeel playbook, this study guide calls for churches to stop using hymns and liturgy that use the biblical terms: exodus, covenant, return, blossoming of the desert, Zion and Israel.

It is time that the PCUSA wakes up and realizes that holding radical and anti-Semitic positions, such as reflected in this study guide, will only guarantee their continued membership decline, because most Americans not only shun hate speech, but admire and stand with the people of Israel.

 


 

Susan Michael is US Director for International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and creator of www.IsraelAnswers.com.
 

ICEJ Statement on the U.N. Recognition of Palestine

Last year, the Palestinian Authority failed in its bid for international recognition of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state through a vote in the United Nations Security Council, which is the proper body to take such binding decisions.

So this year the PA turned to the UN General Assembly, seeking its approval of a resolution upgrading its status to that of a non-member state, the maximum status which the UNGA can confer without Security Council approval. Given the built-in majority support already enjoyed by the Palestinians in the General Assembly, that resolution passed today by a wide margin.

The PA insists this resolution is meant to preserve the two-state solution and further the search for peace in the Middle East. Yet they deliberately submitted this decision for approval in the General Assembly on 29 November, the anniversary of the adoption of the UN Partition Plan for Mandate Palestine in 1947, an historic compromise which the Arab states immediately rejected.

Today’s move by the Palestinians is once again a rejection of peace and accommodation with Israel, much the same as in 1947. It marks a continuing refusal to come to terms with the right of the Jewish people to a state in their ancient homeland.

More specifically, the Palestinians are seeking a way to statehood which does not require them to also recognize Israel as a Jewish state or to conclude an agreement with Israel which ends the conflict and all its related disputes.

This enhanced status as a non-member state will now allow the Palestinian leadership to broaden their strategic campaign of challenging Israel’s legitimacy throughout the myriad of UN forums, including the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

By passing this decision today, the majority of nations in the UN General Assembly are rewarding the Palestinians for their obstinate refusal to engage in direct bilateral negotiations with Israel, and thereby setting back the search for peace.

They are also undermining respect for international law and signed agreements between the parties, such as UNSC resolution 242 and the Oslo accords. Russia was a signatory to the Oslo agreements, while the European Union has served as a broker of subsequent agreements and disputes between the parties, but their solemn obligations have been ignored and even discarded in the decision made today.

This makes it all that much harder for Israel to trust the international community when it comes to third-party guarantees concerning the safety and future of the Jewish state.
 


For Media Inquiries Contact:
David Parsons –Media Director, ICEJ

ICEJ Statement on Israel’s actions in Gaza

Yesterday, Israeli leaders ordered the IDF to finally take concerted action against the repeated launching of rockets and mortars from Gaza into southern Israel, including more than 120 rockets which landed inside Israel since Saturday alone. The current IDF operation, called Pillar of Defense, comes after Hamas and other radical Islamic militias in Gaza had escalated their missile fire into the Negev region on three separate occasions in the past month, each episode ending in very fragile truces brokered by Egypt.

Where this military confrontation will lead is difficult to assess at present. So far, Israeli air forces have successfully targeted the top Hamas military commander in Gaza and destroyed the terror militias longer-range Fajr-3 missiles, yet still another 250 rockets have landed inside Israel in the past 24 hours. The Israeli public has been told to be prepared for an extended conflict and IDF ground forces are being mobilized to enter Gaza if the rocket fire does not cease.

No doubt, Hamas has been emboldened to risk war with Israel by the recent rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, especially considering that Hamas constitutes the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. Displaying its loyalty to Hamas, Cairo has already recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and Egypt’s top government leaders and senior clerics have condemned the “Israeli aggression” in Gaza without any reference whatsoever to the incessant rocket fire into Israel.

The Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference are now joining Egypt in urgently demanding that the United Nations Security Council take action against Israel. None of these organizations have displayed a similar urgency or will to stop the on-going bloodbath in Syria, where Arabs have been killing Arabs in massive numbers for over 20 months, resulting in more than 30,000 deaths. Yet, they deem the act of Jews defending themselves against Arab terror militias to be an outrage worthy of immediate condemnation and punishment.

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is fully committed to helping needy Israeli citizens who have fallen victim to these rocket attacks from Gaza. We ask that you:

Injured Israelis3) Give generously to the ICEJ’s “Israel in Crisis Fund”, which we are now using to meet urgent needs among those communities most impacted by the current violence. We have long-established partnerships with local Israeli charities and social workers in the areas now under fire and already are receiving numerous requests for urgent help. An ICEJ-sponsored relief team of nine volunteers is already on the ground providing food, clothing, first aid kits, blankets, toiletries and shelter to those affected by the hostilities. This humanitarian assistance has already reached families in the building and neighborhood of Kiryat Malachi where three Israelis were killed in a direct Kassam rocket hit this morning.

Please get involved in this relief effort by donating today »

 

1) Pray earnestly for the safety of innocent civilians on both sides, as well as a swift resolution to this latest conflict which will ensure that the Hamas rocket threat is finally removed from over southern Israel.

2) Speak out on Israel’s behalf to your local communities, media and government leaders, especially to defend Israel’s right to safeguard its citizens.


For Media Inquiries Contact:
David Parsons –Media Director, ICEJ

ICEJ to Church Leaders: Denouncing Israel does nothing for Peace

Mainline church leaders who systematically demonize the Israeli security forces while whitewashing the record of those committed to her destruction do little to promote true peace in the Middle East says the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) – the world’s leading Jerusalem-based evangelical ministry.

The comments by the ICEJ’s USA Director, Susan Michael, were made in response to a letter written to the US Congress by fifteen mainline church leaders alleging human rights violations by Israeli troops and calling for an investigation of American military aid to the country.

“They would do us all a service if they would begin to address the real issues of the day like the endemic persecution of Christians in the Muslim world, the atrocities of the Syrian government against their own citizens and the threat to global peace and stability posed by a nuclear-armed Iran,” countered Michael in response to the October 5th letter by leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the National Council of Churches. 

The letter which was issued late in the day on the eve of the Sabbath in the midst of the Jewish holiday season of Sukkot, prompted angry and articulate responses from Jewish leaders, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Rabbis (RA).  It also led to the cancellation of an annual Christian-Jewish leaders’ summit which was to have been held October 22-23 in New York. The so-called Jewish-Christian Roundtable was launched in 2004 in the wake of liberal Protestant movements to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

“The timing couldn’t have been worse,” says Michael who has been actively involved in promoting greater dialogue between the Jewish and Christian communities in the US for over thirty years.  “The whole point of the New York meeting was to ease the tension with these denominations. But what this letter revealed was that many of their leaders never had any intention of abandoning their one-side Israel-bashing agenda, no matter how factually inaccurate and counterproductive it has proven to be.”

“Millions of Christians in these mainline churches do not support this type of ongoing demonization of the Jewish state, especially by church leaders who refuse to acknowledge the ongoing rocket-fire and terrorist attacks being carried out against ordinary Israelis on a daily basis,” Michael continued. “It is time that those who claim to represent the cause of Christ take stances that may actually help peace rather than simply condemning Israel for her efforts to defend her civilians.” 

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is headquartered in the Israeli capital, with branch offices and representatives in some 70 nations, and a reach into more than 125 nations around the world. Its primary mandate is to serve as a “ministry of comfort” to Israel and the Jewish People worldwide, as a means for Christians to finally redress the lingering grievances which the Jewish people have against us due to the tragic history of Christian anti-Semitism.


NOTES

For more background on this issue see: Dexter Van Zile, ‘Mainline American Christian “Peacemakers” against Israel’ November 5, 2009, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

See also: ICEJ Response to 'Open Letter' to American Christian Zionists, October 2011
 


For Media Inquiries Contact:
Michael Hines
–Media Director, ICEJ USA

Juha Ketola to serve as ICEJ International Director

As part of the continuing transition to new leadership within the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, we are pleased to announce that the current Chairman of our Board of Trustees, Rev. Juha Ketola, has been appointed to serve as the ministry’s new International Director. He takes over this key position from Dr. Juergen Buehler, who is now serving as the Executive Director of the worldwide organisation.

Rev. Ketola has been a pastor and travelling evangelist in his native Finland as well as in Canada for many years, and took over as National Director of the ICEJ’s Finnish branch in 2005 from its founder Dr. Ulla Jarvilehto. He was elected Chairman of the international board last year and will now move on to the daily task of overseeing the ICEJ’s global network of more than 70 national branches.

“Juha has hands-on experience as a pastor and now as a branch director, as well as serving on our international board”, said Dr. Buehler. “These qualifications will serve him well as he joins our permanent staff in Jerusalem and begins overseeing our national branches worldwide.”

“We clearly see God’s guidance in this decision and we know that Juha is the right person for this position”, Buehler added.

In addition, the Grafted Young Adults department of the ICEJ will be welcoming a new director, as Jani Salokangas, also from Finland, will come take over from Liesl Maas in coming months. Jani is a talented and dedicated youth minister who has been increasingly involved in Grafted tours and activities in recent years. Jani will fill a strategic position which will serve as a link between Israel and young Christians worldwide.

Liesl Maas helped launch this special outreach to the young generation back in 2003 and built Grafted into a vanguard expression of Christian Zionism among young adults. Both Liesl and her husband Bram Maas will remain involved in the ministry from their new home in the Netherlands.

Profile: Juha Ketola
Rev. Juha Ketola has been in the full-time ministry since 1985, serving as a pastor and an evangelist in his native Finland as well as in Canada. He is a graduate of the International Bible Institute of London Kensington Temple in England and an ordained minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and Finland. Since the summer of 2000, he has been ministering as an itinerant preacher, holding church meetings and gospel outreaches in various countries while also sharing about God’s plans concerning the modern-day restoration of Israel. He has been speaking at events for the ICEJ since 1996. Currently, he serves as Chairman of the ICEJ International Board of Trustees and as the National Director of ICEJ-Finland. Juha Ketola and his wife, Kati, have three children and two grandchildren. They will take up residence in Jerusalem in coming months.
 

German Christians to mark 70th anniversary of Wannsee at Yad Vashem

On Thursday and Friday of this week (19-20 January 2012), the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be hosting a high-ranking delegation of German and Austrian Christian leaders representing some 30 Protestant denominations and Evangelical ministries for a series of events marking the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, the infamous meeting of Nazi officials which decided upon the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

The two-day gathering in Jerusalem will be highlighted by a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance to honor the Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust, followed by addresses by Israeli cabinet minister Yuli Edelstein and other dignitaries. The delegation of 70 prominent pastors and ministry leaders also will pay a visit to the Knesset, meet with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, hold a special prayer service at the Western Wall, and attend a memorial concert at Mishkenot Sha´ananim featuring performances by the noted German Christian Music Academy of Stuttgart.

The Wannsee Conference was held on January 20, 1942 at a lakeside villa outside Berlin and was attended by 15 high-ranking Nazi bureaucrats who set in motion the implementation of a plan to eradicate the Jews of Europe. The meeting was convened by Reinhard Heydrich, assistant to deputy Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler, who led a discussion on methods to be used for the systematic, industrial murder of all Jews within Germany’s reach. A chart compiled by Adolf Eichmann for the Wannsee Conference listed all of the estimated 11 million Jews of Europe and northwest Africa as potential targets.

“The Nazi officials who deliberated at Villa Wannsee over their ghastly plans for exterminating European Jewry were all well-educated, with at least half of them holding doctorate degrees. Some were also the sons of Protestant ministers, yet not one of them raised any moral objections to this heinous plot,” noted Dr. Jürgen Bühler, the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. “We are here to continue the repentance of our nation for this enormous crime by those who committed mass murder in the name of a wicked ideology. The Church in Germany still has so much more to do to amend for our deafening silence in those dark days.”

The high-level delegation from Germany and Austria will be representing some ten million Germans and Austrians from the Protestant, Evangelical, Charismatic and Pentecostal streams of Christianity. The dignitaries include:

Rev. Ingolf Ellßel, Chairman of the Pentecostal European Fellowship
Rev. Siegfried Tomazsewski, European Director of Christ for all Nations
Claus Philippin, President of International Christian Chamber of Commerce-Germany
Hannelore Illgen, representative of the Federation of Pentecostal Churches in Germany
Rev. Gerry Klein, Director of the Bible College at Bad Gandersheim
Karl-Heinz Geppert, Director of the Aki Liebenzell Communities
Martin Baron, prominent Christian Businessman and Author
Karl Klanner, National Director of ICEJ-Austria
Gottfried Bühler, National Director of ICEJ-Germany
Dietmar Kern, Board Member of Initiative 27 January, Christians for Israel-Germany
Friedemann Meussling, Director of the Christian Music and Art Academy of Stuttgart

***************************
Press are invited to cover the following events:
Thursday, 19 January
17:00 – Special Reception and Concert at the Konrad Adenhauer Conference Center, Mishkenot Sha´ananim, with German Christian leaders and local Holocaust survivors (in partnership with Helping Hands Coalition).

Friday, 20 January
11:15 – Wreath laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, followed by addresses by Israeli Cabinet Minister Yuli Edelstein, Rev. Ingolf Ellßel, Chairman of the Pentecostal European Fellowship, and other dignitaries (in partnership with the Christian Desk at Yad Vashem).

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
David Parsons, ICEJ Media Director
Cell: 052-381-6214
E-mail

***********************************************

HISTORIC BACKGROUND ON THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE

The Villa Wannsee
The Villa Wannsee

On the 70th Anniversary of the infamous Wannsee Conference, German Christian leaders will be gathering in Jerusalem to honor the Jewish victims and survivors of the Nazi genocide and to condemn the rise of neo-Nazism.

The infamous Wannsee Conference took place at a lakeside villa outside Berlin where, on January 20, 1942, a small group of 15 senior Nazi bureaucrats set in motion the implementation of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” This involved a plan developed by Reinhard Heydrich, assistant to deputy Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler, to systematically murder not just those Jews under Nazi occupation, but all of the estimated 11 million Jews of Europe and northwest Africa.

The passing of 70 years since Wannsee comes at a time when Germany has been shocked by news of the arrest of a militant neo-Nazi terror cell which is suspected of a string of racist murders and bank robberies across the country over the past decade. Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the exposure of the radical right-wing gang as a “disgrace” which has brought “shame” on the nation.
In this context, German Christian leaders have come to Jerusalem on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Wannsee Conference to deliver a critical message to the world that the abhorrent evil of Nazism represented by the cold and calculating decision taken at this gathering must never be allowed to rise again. They will also be honoring the Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust at a special series of events at Yad Vashem and at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

The dark legacy of Wannsee

The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of 15 senior Nazi officials held at a plush villa on Lake Wannsee just outside of Berlin on 20 January 1942. The meeting was convened by Reinhard Heydrich to inform the administrative heads of various government departments with some level of jurisdiction over the Jews that he had been appointed as the chief executor of the “Final Solution to the Jewish question.”

In the course of the meeting, Heydrich presented a plan, presumably approved by Adolf Hitler, for the deportation of the Jewish populations of Europe and French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) to German-occupied areas in eastern Europe, and the use of the Jews fit for labor on road-building projects, in the course of which they were expected to eventually die. According to the recorded minutes of the Wannsee Conference, any surviving remnant would be annihilated after completion of the road projects. This initial plan was soon altered as subsequent events unfolded during the war. When Soviet and Allied forces began pushing back the German lines, Nazi leaders decided to accelerate the extermination process and most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe were sent to death camps or concentration camps, or killed where they lived. Nonetheless, the Wannsee Conference stands as the clearest single evidentiary proof on which the entire Nazi leadership can be indicted for a collective genocidal plot to eradicate all of European Jewry.

In the months leading up to Wannsee, German forces invading the Soviet Union had made rapid advances to the gates of Moscow and a euphoric Nazi leadership began to discuss how to deal with the four million Jews of Eastern Europe which had fallen under German control. Shedding any moral restraints, Hitler and his chief lieutenants, Herman Göring and Heinrich Himmler, deliberated over the most practical “solution” to the “Jewish question.” Although no written order by Hitler to exterminate all Jews has ever been found, certain comments he made around this time made it clear he wanted to rid them from his realm. Based on this understanding, Göring gave written authorization to Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), to “make all necessary preparations” for a “total solution of the Jewish question.”

At that moment Heydrich was directing the Einsatzgruppen, the roving Nazi death squads which were already slaughtering tens of thousands of Jews in the newly conquered Soviet territories. He viewed his task as ascertaining and then overseeing a more efficient method for exploiting Jewish labor on the way to working and starving them to death.

But then in late 1941, the Soviets launched an effective counterattack outside Moscow, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States joined the fray, and the Nazi hierarchy realized the war would last longer than expected. There would not be enough supplies to feed everyone in the conquered Soviet territories, so discussions turned from the “evacuation” of Jews to their “extermination.” It is likely that a decision was made at around the time of the stall outside Moscow. On December 18, Himmler met with Hitler and afterwards noted in his appointment book “Jewish question – to be exterminated as partisans.” Heydrich had originally invited the administrative heads to a meeting on December 9 to discuss the logistics of his plan for deporting Jews to forced labor camps. But the meeting had to be postponed, as several invitees were called away last minute to a symbolic gathering of the Nazi party’s top echelons to formally declare war on America. Now armed with different marching orders, Heydrich rescheduled the meeting for January 20, 1942 at a lakeside estate in a suburb of Berlin. His primary aim was to bring together representatives of all affected departments to explain the mechanics of a revised plan he was personally commissioned to oversee by the highest authority of the Third Reich. Heydrich’s six-week postponement gave him an opportunity to broaden the original objective from deportations to one fixed on carrying out the ‘Final Solution.”

Eichmann
Adolph Eichmann

The ministries represented included Interior, Justice, the Four Year Plan and Occupied Eastern Territories, as well as the Foreign Office, the Reich Chancellery, and the head of the Gestapo. Heydrich’s right-hand man Adolph Eichmann was to take the minutes.

In preparation for the conference, Eichmann had drafted a list with the estimated numbers of Jews in the various European countries, both those under direct Reich control or occupation as well as those countries that were allied or client states, neutral, or at war with Germany. In total, Heydrich’s plan targeted an estimated 11 million Jews in Europe and parts of northwest Africa under the control of the Vichy French.

Heydrich opened the conference by explaining that “after appropriate prior approval by the Führer, emigration as a possible solution has been superseded by a policy of evacuating Jews to the East.” But he added that this would only be a “provisional” solution, as “practical experience” was already being collected for the “future final solution of the Jewish question.”

Holocaust deniers claim that the Wannsee Conference decided on no more than the “evacuation” of the Jewish population of Europe to the east, with no reference to killing them. In fact, Heydrich made clear the ultimate fate intended for the evacuees:

“The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as the seed of a new Jewish revival.”
 

Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich

Heydrich’s meaning would have been obvious to the conference attendees, as they were all educated men well versed in Nazi terminology. At least eight of the fifteen participants held doctorate degrees. No one raised any moral objections. At most, several sought clarification on whether mixed Jews were to be included.

Heydrich went on to say that in the course of the “practical execution of the final solution,” Europe would be “combed through from west to east.” Afterwards, Eichmann sent copies of the conference minutes, styled the “Wannsee ,” to all the participants. It was not until 1947 that a copy of the minutes was found by an American prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials. The Wannsee minutes, however, do not mention killing. These omissions were not fully understood until the interrogation and trial of Eichmann in Israel in 1962. Eichmann told his questioners that towards the end of the meeting cognac was served, and that after that the conversation became less restrained.

“The gentlemen were standing together, or sitting together,” he said, “and were discussing the subject quite bluntly, quite differently from the language which I had to use later in the record. During the conversation they minced no words about it at all... they spoke about methods of killing, about liquidation, about extermination.”
In his recorded minutes, Eichmann summed up these chilling words in one bland sentence: “In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed.”

Wansee Protocol
The Wannsee Protocol

 

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