Michael Gallagher, founder and Chairman of the Omagh Support and Self Help Group; OneFamily’s Director of Communications Yehuda Poch; OneFamily staff member and bereaved father Uri Baruch; Francoise Rudetzki, founder and Chairman of SOS Attentats of France; Michel Gourary of the European Friends of Israel lobby group, which organized the conference; Dr. Roni Berger of Natal; Dr. Joseph Henrotin, Researcher on Terrorism and Strategic Studies at the Center for the Analysis and Prevention of International Risks.
The European Parliament in Brussels was the scene of a conference this week (June 11) hosted by MEP Geoffrey van Orden, a British member of the European Parliament, and close friend of Israel.
The conference was organized to highlight the plight of victims of terrorism in Israel and in Europe, and to create a forum for organizations helping the victims to share experience and insight into the vital mission these organizations share.
Together with the OneFamily Fund, other organizations participating in the conference were the Natal psychological support organization from Israel, S.O.S Attentats from France, and the Omagh Support and Self Help Group from Northern Ireland.
S.O.S. Attentats Founder and Chairman Françoise Rudetzki emphasized the tremendous need for more comprehensive legislation in all Western countries to recognize victims of terror as “civilian victims of war” and to allocate benefits to them in accordance with this status – something already practiced in Israel, and which OneFamily has been at the forefront of developing together with members of the Israeli Knesset.
James Nicholson, Member of European Parliament; Victoria Ford, Parliamentary Assistant to MEP Geoffrey Van Orden and Candidate in next year’s European Parliamentary elections; Michael Gallagher, Brig. Gen. (ret.) Ephraim Lapid, IDF War Veterans Association, and lecturer on terrorism and international affairs at Bar Ilan University; Geoffrey Van Orden, Member of European Parliament and host of the conference; Maurice Rudetzki and Francoise Rudetzki of SOS Attentats; Dr. Roni Berger; Dr. Joseph Henrotin; OneFamily’s Uri Baruch; Michel Gourary; OneFamily’s Yehuda Poch
Omagh Founder and Chairman Michael Gallagher, who lost both a brother and a son to terrorism in Northern Ireland, spoke about the tremendous need for organizations supporting victims of terror to work together, to share “best practice” methods so that our assistance can be provided more efficiently and more completely, and also highlighted the need for stronger legislation to support the needs of victims. He lauded OneFamily on the tremendous work we have been doing in providing comprehensive assistance to victims, and said that many other organizations around the world have a lot to learn from our experience.
Saroja Sirisena, Chief Councilor at the Sri Lankan Embassy to the European Union, attended the conference as a spectator. In the question and answer period following the discussions, she mentioned that while Sri Lanka has seen perhaps more terrorism than any other country in the world in the past 30 years, its social service organizations are not up to date in their methods of providing assistance or in representing the victims of terrorism to government and local agencies. She expressed a strong interest in visiting Israel with a delegation from Sri Lankan support organizations to learn first hand from OneFamily how we provide assistance on an on-going, comprehensive basis to victims of terrorism throughout the country, and how those methods of assistance can be adapted for use in her country.
Summing up the conference, Mr. van Orden took the opportunity to call for the creation of a permanent forum under the auspices of the European Union that could provide a vehicle for terror victim support organizations to share experience, skills, and ideas for additional “civil society” efforts to help the victims of terrorism. Once this forum is created, OneFamily will be proud to serve as a founding member, and to provide lessons from our experience to other organizations around the world who are working for the same goals.