Belgian Coalition for Israel
IBAN: BE87 6511 4957 3194
25th OCTOBER 2015
The Shalom Festival in Antwerp took place under a clear sky on Sunday 25 October 2015 and partly thanks to the beautiful weather, there was a large turnout of people. Notably, there was a strong presence of people from many different backgrounds: European, Asian and African people, evangelical Christians, religious and secular Jews, representatives of various political parties, as well as social journalists and a mixture of visitors that were as diverse as the speakers and the volunteers at the event. It all represented a healthy relationship between faith and society. The programme was enriched by beautiful singing, dancing and cultural items. Most importantly, however, there was a mutual respect and a desire to express friendship, cooperation and peace between all the participants. Both among nations but also here as citizens in Antwerp. Peace, however, can only be achieved if it is based on democracy and Judeo-Christian principles of respect for co-existence.
At the heart of the event, the Shalom Declaration of peace was read by the President of Koinonia Ministries, Eugenia Daskalopoulou-Tarlizou, which expresses gratitude to the Jewish community for the spiritual roots of Christianity and for their contribution to society as a whole. The Shalom Declaration expresses solidarity on behalf of the Christian community to all the families of terrorism victims in Israel and also gratitude to the state of Israel as the only place in the Middle East where Christians and other minority communities can live without fear of persecution.
On behalf of the Shalom Festival, spiritual leaders and representatives of every community were asked to fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of religious extremism in the world and help instead to strengthen the mutual understanding needed for coexistence between peoples.
"Peace is not achieved by being passive, but demands a collective commitment to fundamental human values of diversity and respect for each other's identity," the first speaker, André Gantman said and congratulated the organisers of the Shalom Festival for their persistent efforts in the past years to establish the Festival annually.
"One might say that the world is living in Antwerp," said MP, Annick De Ridder, “and in order to live in peace with each other, it can only happen in a democratic framework where respect for each other continues to be the fundamental principle for each community”.
Just as Europe is trying to find a balance with the recent refugee influx from the Middle East, between showing solidarity and maintaining their own identity, Israel also seeks to protect its citizens. It is the only democracy in a region full of conflict and dictatorships, said Benoit Mores. "Building cultural bridges contributes toward a positive change for peace and freedom. We should work on building these bridges both here in our city, Antwerp and in the rest of the world. As the Bible says in Proverbs 8:17 "I love those who love me and those who seek me find me". That's what true peace (shalom) stands for!
The vice-Ambassador of Israel greeted the organisers and visitors, expressing her gratitude for all those who showed their love for Israel during the event, but also her sadness for the way that the perpetrators of the recent terror attack continue to be depicted in the media, while there are daily innocent victims of their violence.
The Shalom Festival is an initiative from the Alliance for Peace in the Middle East, the Belgian Coalition for Israel, B'nai B'rith Antwerp, Koinonia Ministries, ORT Belgium, Christians for Israel, Beautiful Israel, Anet and Chretien Amis d'Israël.
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