Israel’s Knesset, where OneFamily recently took a group of terror victims to meet with government officials
The Knesset is Israel’s parliament – the center of Israel’s political life and the place where decisions are made that affect the entire Jewish world. It is the place where the Jewish nation is represented in the world of nations, and where the elected leaders of our nation meet to ensure our national development and progress.
On January 31, OneFamily escorted a group of close to 100 victims of terror from all over the country to the Knesset, where they were given a tour of the building, and the opportunity to meet with two leading members of Knesset.
Zevulun Orlev, Chairman of the National Religious Party and former Welfare Minister, spent time with us, fielding questions from bereaved and wounded terror victims, and giving them insight understand into the government’s assistance process.
Several of the victims confronted him about their battles with the immense bureaucracy they face in trying to obtain government assistance, and asked how he reconciled this with human dignity. They told Orlev that it was OneFamily that gave them the help they need, and that they face only a daunting bureaucracy when they approach the government. He responded that the government’s job is to provide the ability for the victims to continue their lives, but that it is organizations like OneFamily that provide the social and human framework for that rebuilding to take place. He suggested that through close cooperation between the government and OneFamily, the victims of terror would receive all they need to move forward.
Orlev also took pains to explain that Israeli law provides for the most advanced assistance framework of any country in the world for victims of terror. “No other country in the world has created a law that provides as much help for victims of terror as Israel has,” he told the group, “and many places send people to Israel to learn from how we do things in this regard.”
But there is room for improvement.
Our group of bereaved and wounded victims of terror pose outside of the Knesset with OneFamily staff
A common concern among the group was why assistance for child victims of terror ends at age 21. Orlev explained that Israeli law provides assistance for victims in line with the assistance it provides for military victims, and that accident victims receive lower levels of assistance. Since most military victims are aged 21 or lower, that is the framework in which the assistance is given. “It’s still not perfect,” he said, “and changes still need to be made to take into account the unique needs of terror victims.”
Orlev himself has been working to bring about those changes. For the past few years he has been working closely with 41 orphan victims of terror to change the law regarding the assistance they receive from the State.
Following our meeting with Orlev, Knesset Opposition Leader Binyamin Netanyahu addressed our group. He began his remarks by commenting that as a bereaved brother himself, he deeply understands the feelings and the needs of victims of terrorism, he identifies with the sacrifices they make every day just by continuing to live in pain, and he embraces them as one of them. He related how last week, he had the opportunity to speak in London at a fundraising function for OneFamily, “and it gave me great honor to help recruit more resources for this wonderful organization.”
Netanyahu spoke of the need to defeat the terrorists, and said that there are two things that need to be done in order to accomplish this. “First, we need to stop giving to them. We need to stop giving them money, arms, resources, and we need to stop giving them land. Second, we need to pursue them and defeat them so that they cannot continue creating more victims to join our family.”
These meetings held tremendous importance for the victims of terrorism. They had the opportunity to voice their concerns and their problems to two of the leading politicians in the country, one of whom is closely involved with the government assistance programs that affect their lives, and another who shares their pain and loss on a deep, personal level. Netanyahu’s words were particularly comforting to the victims.
Benjamin Netanyahu speaking on behalf of OneFamily
Both members of Knesset invited the participants to send them personal letters with their concerns and guaranteed that they would give each the attention they deserve.