The little miracle of the Middle East was described by the different speakers at the 16th edition of the Shalom festival during a dry, first winter afternoon, despite all the weather forecasts. Eco-shalom was the theme of this year, focusing on the revival of the land and Israel’s contribution to the world in terms of ecology.
Jewish community leaders, the Evangelical- Pentecostal pastor and the political presence formed a peculiar cocktail on the podium of Shalom. Alongside the vice-president of Koinonia, a Jew of descent, and the promising young Christian artist presenting the gospel and Jewish singers, they set the tone for the whole event.
Boogie Boy, caused a small revival with his Jewish songs and roots. In a uniform mood and tone with the festival, the famous artist of Flanders joined hands with gospel artists to lead known Jewish songs and folk dance.
The Evangelical Church has also talent! Michael Verschuren opened and closed the festival with the Hativka in perfect Hebrew. The once well-known Flemish miracle-child avails his service to the SHALOM after a decision to serve only Him with his talent.
The Brazilian Assembléias de Deus practised with zeal to express their love for Israel and the Jewish people with their dance performance.With clothing specially made for the occasion, they painted the Groenplaats and filled the atmosphere with the colours of peace. The colourful choir of Kingdom Life Center made their debut in a public performance as the first group of SHALOM while Bernice Pamford and Gina Doefilled the air and hearts of Jews, Christians and visitors with their gospel melodies.
Facts and achievements, unknown to most people, were listed by the president of Beautiful Israel in a wealth of knowledge and applications originating from Israel. From intelligent drip irrigation, geothermal power plants, clean and 3G energy, solar panels, solar ‘windows’ and photovoltaic energy, low-cost energy through tulip wind turbines to small tomatoes and improved crops for agriculture, plastic recycling based on natural ingredients and getting air from water…; all this from the country with an overflows of motivated citizens who focus on the positive things in life and who want to move forward. “Did you know that India has asked Israel to clear their Ganges river? And this just because Israel is so specialised and well-known in this area” concluded Patricia Teitelbaum with a legitimate boasting.”This one of the many things that are rarely brought to light by the regular media.”
“The Promised Land is a leader in so many environmental areas. More and more companies and people in countries around the world are using it.” Michael Freilich, Member of Parliament, continued on nature and planting trees in Israel, “and that is not peanuts if you know that no less than 60% of the country is a desert area. Everyone knows Israeli irrigation technology, even Spanish farmers and market gardeners use it. ” The story behind a series of ecological innovations was told by the practising Jewish speaker, “That was born as an answer to an emergency situation when, before the establishment of the state of Israel, Arabs no longer wanted to sell seeds to Jews. No climate march, no panic, no blame to others. The response was a hopeful action. Israel knows eco-realism from even before the term existed… The most important message is hope: people are capable of exceptional achievements to solve problems. Israel is a light for the nations here too.”
“Israel is flourishing today in fulfilment of what the prophet Isaiah predicted! (Isaiah 35:1-3)”, said Nick Vandeputte, president of the Belgian Coalition for Israel, and made a call to read Scripture with an open eye to what is happening around us. “Israel is a blessing for the world and Christians owe a lot to that nation.”
“G-d created the earth and entrusted the responsibility to Adam and Eve and later to their descendants” was the statement of the president of the oldest Jewish organisation in Europe, B’nai B’rith (sons of the covenant), Willy Kahan, as he laid directly the Biblical foundation of the Israeli explosion in ecology. “The Bible in itself gives numerous of instructions on how to deal with nature.” From the garden of Eden to the ark of Noah and to the book of Exodus and the 7th year of rest in the land, the bold community leader led his listeners, placing a solid bridge between Scripture and the contemporary practices in Israel, in dealing with animals, water and technology, but also highlighting on the knowledge and technology passed to neighbouring countries and to all peoples of the earth.
The new ambassador of Israel, Emmanuel Nahshon, sent his greetings to the organisation of the Shalom; grateful for the advocacy on behalf of Israel. “It is not an easy task today,” he said. He encouraged SHALOM visitors to seek peace in their personal relationships with their neighbours and expressed Israel’s desire to engage in a lasting and fair friendship with other nations.
A streightforward statement in regard to antisemitism’s top practices today was, on the other side, the speech of André Gantman. The oldest town councilor of Antwerp turned the stones around while addressing the biased and unfair propaganda against Israel: “Saying ‘no’ to BDS fundamentalism is saying ‘yes’ to peace, economic development and social progress.”
The multicultural Evangelical community present during the afternoon showed that this is quite possible. Yes, many are the friends of Israel from all over the world and this can be seen in the turnover of annual visitors from all over the world to the Holy Land. A small miniature of that was the SHALOM!
Interesting conversations were held in the information tent, the VIP tent and all kinds of Christian and Jewish stands that surrounded the square one next to the other. With a falafel, a cake and a drink in hand, with lots of entertainment for the children, the event was a wonderful meeting place for the Jews people, Evangelical Christians and the citizens of Antwerp.
The Shalom Festival is an initiative of the Alliance for Peace in the Middle East, the Belgian Coalition for Israel, B’nai B’rith Antwerp, Koinonia Ministries, ‘Friends of Beautiful Israel’, Anet, ‘ORT Belgium’, Christians for Israel and ‘Chrétiens Amis d’Israel’;
Thanks to the city of Antwerp, all artists, churches and volunteers who joined hands to make the day a success.