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Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein demands justice for US Jewish college student

JERUSALEM, June 23, 2017 – The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), backed by tens of millions of Christians in the United States and around the world, including in South Korea, where the organization remains active, called today on the United States and other countries to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea in the wake of the death of American-Jewish student Otto Warmbier this week.

The Fellowship’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, today called on the Trump administration to seek travel bans on North Korea and to work with China and the World Court to impose tougher pressure on the Pyongyang government in the wake of Warmbier’s death.

Warmbier, 22, a student at the University of Virginia who was active in the campus Hillel and participated in Birthright Israel, went to visit North Korea in January 2016, but was convicted of stealing a propaganda poster, jailed and sentenced to 15 years hard labor. He was freed last week, and after arriving home to Cincinnati in a coma died within a few days.

“As an organization that cares for and provides security for Jews and Christians around world, The Fellowship is outraged by the death of Otto Warmbier. We call on the Trump Administration to deal strongly and wisely with North Korea,” Eckstein said.

Eckstein, whose organization established an office in Seoul in 2012, on the 50th anniversary of Israeli-Korean diplomatic relations, and who has made several trips to South Korea to meet with church and Korean officials and members of the Christian community, also noted that the North Korean regime is currently still holding three U.S. citizens and two Christian pastors unjustly.

“The U.S. should immediately impose a ban on travel to North Korea, because the bulk of this regime’s foreign funds come from tourism and are used for nefarious purposes. The Trump administration should also press China to apply greater pressure on North Korea. We must hold North Korea accountable, and bring the regime before the World Court.”

The Fellowship's Seoul office works to build bridges between local Christians and Jews, and acts as a base to build connections between Jews and Christians throughout the Far East, including China, the Philippines and Singapore. More than 40,000 Koreans visit Israel annually.

About The Fellowship:

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide – and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Led by its founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $140 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.4 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Toronto, and Seoul. For more information, visit

For further details, contact: Ryan Greiss, Puder PR, New York: (212) 558-9400; [email protected]

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