Transatlantic Friends of Israel

Mission statement

The Transatlantic Friends of Israel is a cross-party, inter-parliamentary group dedicated to the postwar order of transatlantic security and cooperation bestowed on us by visionary American and European leaders. We are united in the conviction that Israel, the Middle East’s only liberal democracy, ought to be understood as an integral part of this vital security, political, and economic architecture.

We affirm that the alliance between Europe, the United States, and Israel is anchored in shared values, interests, and history. This trilateral partnership is a crucial vehicle to strengthen our security and prosperity and to protect the rules-based international order.

We recognize that the threats we face today – from rising extremism and terrorism to radical regimes and nuclear proliferation – require ever closer cooperation among our democracies. In this struggle, Israel is Europe’s and America’s first line of defense in a volatile region. With its first-class security services, cutting-edge high-tech sector, and thriving knowledge-based economy, the Jewish state is a vital ally and partner.

We urge Europe, the United States, and Israel to deepen their political, security and economic cooperation within the framework of a strong trilateral partnership. We refuse to allow the inevitable differences that arise even among the closest partners to jeopardize this bond.

Leadership

Chair

Lukas Mandl

Member of the European Parliament, EPP Group, Austria

Lukas Mandl is a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Subcommittee Security and Defence, as well as the Development Committee. Prior to becoming an MEP in 2017, Mandl was a Member of the State Parliament of Lower Austria since 2008. After being re-elected 2013, Mandl took the chairmanship of the legislature&;s Committee of European Affairs. Mandl was also Vice Mayor of his home town Gerasdorf and therefore active on each political level. A core principle of his political work is defending western values in the sense of freedom, democracy and rule of law. Mandl holds a degree (Mag. Phil.) in Communications from the University of Vienna, is married to the lawyer Kristina Mandl, and has three children with her.

Vice Chair

Petras Auštrevičius

Member of the European Parliament, Renew Europe Group, Lithuania

Petras Auštrevičius sits in the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence and is a substitute member in the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. Before being elected as an MEP in 2014, Mr. Auštrevičius was a member of the Lithuanian Parliament, the Chief Negotiator for Lithuania’s EU membership, and a diplomat. From 1994 to 1997, he was Lithuania’s Ambassador to Finland. Auštrevičius is a co-founder and first chairman of the Liberals Movement of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as co-founder of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute and the Institute of Liberal Thought. Auštrevičius holds a diploma in Economics from Vilnius State University. 

Vice Chair

Anna Michelle Asimakopoulou

Member of the European Parliament, EPP Group, Greece

Anna Michelle Asimakopoulou is a Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chair of the Committee on International Trade. Asimakopoulou studied economics and law in the USA and in the UK and worked for several years as a lawyer in New York, specializing in financial transactions and international banking law. She worked as an evaluator of projects funded by the European Commission and as a consultant in the private sector in Brussels and Luxembourg. She served as Deputy-Mayor of the City of Ioannina (2010-2012) and an elected member of the Hellenic Parliament (2012-2019). She was appointed Spokesperson of the New Democracy Party in 2013. She was Head of Fiscal Policy Sector (2015), Head of the Development and Competition Sector (2016) and Head of the Digital Policy, Telecommunications & Media Sector for New Democracy (2016-2019).

Vice Chair

Alexandr Vondra

Member of the European Parliament, ECR Group, Czechia

Alexandr Vondra is a Member of the European Parliament and member of the European Parliament's delegations for relations with the U.S. and Israel. He is former Minister of Defense (2010-2012), as well as Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs (2007-2009) and former Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006-2007). He was the Czech Government's Plenipotentiary for the preparation of the NATO Summit in Prague (2002). He also served as Czech Ambassador to the United States (1997-2001). He worked as a foreign policy advisor to former President Václav Havel. During the Velvet Revolution in November 1989, he became a co-founder and leading member of the Civic Forum movement.

Secretary General

Daniel Schwammenthal

Daniel Schwammenthal is the Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute and the Secretary General of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) group. Before joining the AJC Transatlantic Institute, Mr. Schwammenthal worked for seven years as an editorial page writer and op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels and Amsterdam, writing about EU politics and economics, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iran, radical Islam and terrorism. Prior to that, Mr. Schwammenthal worked for six years as a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires in Bonn, Berlin and Brussels covering German and European politics, economics and regulatory affairs.

Mr. Schwammenthal studied political science and political economy at the University of Aachen and received an M.A. in international relations and international communication from Boston University and an L.L.M. in European law and policy from the University of Manchester.

Events

November 19, 2019

Transatlantic Friends of Israel Breakfast Discussion

The Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) group hosted Brigadier General (Res.) Assaf Orion, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, for a breakfast discussion on Israel’s geostrategic situation and the Jewish state’s multi-faceted security challenges. The exclusive audience included 35 cross-party MEPs and parliamentary advisors. H.E. Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Israel’s Ambassador to the EU, and Christina Tomlinson, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs of the U.S. Mission to the EU, also attended.
July 09, 2019

Launch of the Transatlantic Friends of Israel

The AJC Transatlantic Institute launched the inter-parliamentary Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) group in the EU Parliament. TFI Chair Lukas Mandl, Austrian MEP (EPP), co-hosted the kick-off event with German MEP Dietmar Köster (S&D) and TFI Vice Chair MEP Frédérique Ries (Renew Europe) from Belgium. The standing-room only audience of some 60 people included 25 MEPs from 13 countries. TFI is the first-ever friendship caucus specifically committed to bolstering the trilateral partnership between the U.S., Israel, and Europe.

Media

12/11/2019

TFI Statement on EU Court of Justice Decision on Labeling

STATEMENT

Brussels, 12 November 2019

EU Court of Justice Decision on Labeling

We acknowledge today’s EU Court of Justice decision on EU labeling requirements for foodstuffs originating from beyond the 1948...

31/10/2019

Members of the European Parliament Visit Israel with AJC, Call for Association Council and EU Ban of Hezbollah

Jerusalem, 31 October 2019 - A leadership delegation of Members of the European Parliament associated with the ...

22/07/2019

What’s TFI all about?

After the launch of the cross-party Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI) in the EU Parliament, Counterpoint host Daniel Schwammenthal spoke with TFI Chair MEP Lukas Mandl and Vice Chair MEP Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe) from Lithuania about the group’s priorities, including upgrading the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a speedy convening of an Association Council, and overall stronger ties between Israel, Europe, and the U.S. on the basis of shared democratic values.

09/07/2019

AJC Launches Inter-Parliamentary U.S.-Israel-EU Friendship Group

Brussels – 9 July 2019 –The AJC Transatlantic Institute launched today the inter-parliamentary “Transatlantic Friends of Israel (TFI)” group in the EU Parliament. Chaired by Austrian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Lukas Mandl (EPP), this is the first-ever cross-party friendship caucus...

Supporters

It is an honor to send greetings to the Transatlantic Friends of Israel, a new cross-party parliamentary friendship group dedicated to fostering strong transatlantic ties with Israel. Key foreign policy issues - including stalwart support for our allies in Europe and in Israel - traditionally enjoy bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. It is my hope that the Transatlantic Friends of Israel can work towards achieving the same unwavering support in Europe for the Jewish state.

Marco Rubio (R-FL), Member of the U.S. Senate
10/07/2019

As a long-time believer in the deepening of transatlantic ties and a staunch supporter of Israel, I was delighted to learn about AJC’s new Transatlantic Friends of Israel inter-parliamentary friendship group. With a clear set of common interests and values, this trilateral project could not have come soon enough. As this group continues to grow and expand, I look forward to working together to pursue our agenda of partnership and friendship.

Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY-17), Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
10/07/2019