Belgium focus of Israeli ceremony for Jewish victims of terror

At JAFI ceremony, Sharansky says “Memory is the strongest weapon of the Jewish people.”

May 1, 2017 14:27
2 minute read.
Natan Sharansky

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky lays wreath for Jewish terror victims at Memorial Day ceremony. (photo credit: THE JEWISH AGENCY FOR ISRAEL)

Belgium’s Ambassador to Israel Olivier Belle laid a wreath in memory of Jewish victims of terrorist attacks in his country, during the annual Remembrance Day ceremony hosted by the Jewish Agency for Israel in the main plaza of its Jerusalem headquarters on Monday.

On a day dedicated to Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, the Jewish Agency expands its service to include Jews killed in antisemitic attacks around the world.

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Every year the ceremony focuses on a different country, and this year that country was Belgium.

Special mention was made of Prof. Joseph Wybran, a world-renowned immunologist and leader of the Belgian Jewish community who was murdered in 1989, and Mira and Emmanuel Riva, an Israeli couple killed in the 2014 terrorist attack at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. Wybran’s widow and her son participated in the ceremony, as did Mira and Emmanuel Riva’s daughters, Mira’s siblings and Emmanuel’s twin brother.
Ambassador of Belgium to Israel Olivier Belle (Tamara Zieve)

“It is very important for me and for the Belgian people to be together with the Jewish people, the Jewish victims and their families and that’s the reason why I’m here,” Belle told The Jerusalem Post. “It is very important for the Belgian authorities to do their utmost to fight antisemitism and any type of terrorist act and my presence is testimony of our solidarity with the Jewish victims and the Jewish community in Belgium.”

Speaking to the Post, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said: “The war on terror against Israel and the Jewish people is not limited to the State of Israel. There are Jews who were killed by the same terrorists in many parts of the world only because they were Jews, and only because they were connected to Israel.

“And that’s why every year we have a special ceremony and every year we choose a different country,” he explained. Last year, the ceremony focused on France, and the year before, Argentina.

According to Jewish Agency data, some 200 Jews have been murdered in antisemitic attacks around the world since Israel’s establishment in 1948. Their names appear on a memorial that was placed in the plaza for the duration of the ceremony.

“Memory is the strongest weapon of the Jewish people,” Sharansky stressed.

The ceremony was held partnership with the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish National Fund, Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal, the Jewish Federations of North America and Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA.

Representatives of the Belgian immigrant community in Israel were among the attendees.

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