Brussels, 5 June 2016 - The 9th Shalom Festival was held at Place d’Espagne in Brussels with a beautiful mixture of visitors and volunteers from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Devoted to the Peace in the Middle East, support for the Jewish people and the persecuted Christians, the programme was enhanced by Israeli and gospel music, dancing and cultural presentations. Most importantly, however, there was a remarkable atmosphere of friendship, cooperation and peace between all the different communities represented.
"Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are not persecuted" stated Iranian pastor Hassan Najafabady, who went on to express his love and solidarity for the Jewish community and his desire to see the Iranian government turn away from the poisonous rhetoric of hate and antisemitism.
"Unrighteousness done to somebody else concerns us all" said Ruth Isaac, who represented the European Coalition for Israel and Koinonia Ministries, concerning the discriminatory boycott movement against Israel. “BDS has been condemned by the UK as illegal under WTO agreements and the French High Court has decreed that it constitutes discrimination and incitement to violence. We need to ask our political representatives both in Europe and in Belgium to condemn such activities”.
"We need to support initiatives that promote coexistence and not separation between the different communities", stated Idit Rosenzweig-Abu, Deputy Chief of Israeli Mission. "The commitment to fundamental human values of diversity and respect for each other's identity is what makes both Israeli and European societies thriving democracies and that should never be compromised," Mrs Rosenzweig concluded.
Richard Darmon, who is both a journalist and a lecturer, spoke of the need for Shalom peace in the Middle East between the different nations. Not a temporary truce, but a real peace and Israeli people are willing to make great efforts to have peace with all their neighbours. But dividing Jerusalem, the Biblical capital of Israel, nonetheless cannot be accepted as an option if we want to remain true to our identity as a people, he stated.
Pastor Raymond Vandeput, President of the Alliance for Peace in the Middle East thanked the participants and concluded that "the success of the Shalom Festival is the friendship, cooperation and peace among the various communities represented, which is build on their common Biblical roots and mutual respect for each other’s culture and history."
The Shalom Festival is an initiative of the Alliance for Peace in the Middle East, the Belgian Coalition for Israel, B'nai B'rith, Koinonia Ministries, ORT Belgium, Christians for Israel, KKL, Anet, Belgian Friends of Beautiful Israel, Belgium Zionist Federation and Chrétiens Amis d’Israël.