As Belgian royals, families of victims marked Wednesday the first anniversary of the Brussels terror attacks which killed 32 people and wounded hundreds at the airport and at a metro station, a remembrance event was held at the European Jewish Building in the heart of the EU institutions.
‘’We experienced the worst terror attacks that ever hit our country,’’ reminded Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Jan Jambon at the ceremony attended by several diplomats from various European countries, Israel and the US. ‘’It was also the worst day of my life.’’
Since the attacks, Belgium is still under threat level 3. ‘’But despite of this I can tell you that Belgium is more safe,’’ Jambon emphasized. ’’ ‘’Our security and intelligence services will continue to be reinforced.International cooperation has also improved and intensified,’’ he said, noting the the fight against terrorism ‘’is a battle we can only win by working all together.’’
The minister, who has very good relations with the Jewish community, stressed that his country has engaged thirty measures to fight against radicalization and allocated budgets like never before, up to 1 billion euros until now.
‘’We have also developed a new security concept for the airports which shall later be extended to the major international train stations. This is inspired by the methods used at the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel,’’ he added.
Opening the ceremony, Alex Benjamin, Director of public affairs of the European Jewish Association (EJA), one of the organizers of the event along with the Ohel Eliezer European Synagogue, the European Jewish Community Centre and the European Union Jewish Building, said such event ‘’is a celebration of our collective triumph over evil.’’ ‘’Our steadfast resolution not to be divided, not to retreat into ourselves and our communities.’’ ‘’The greatest legacy we can give to its many victims that we mourn today, is to show terrorists that they didn’t succeed.’’
Rabbi Avi Tawil of the EJCC spoke of the initiatives and projects launched since the attacks to reinforce cooperation between communities, especially among youngsters.
He played a short film showcasing some of these projects, and after invited a representative of the European Pear Training Organisation to share her experiences.
Michoel Rosenblum, Director of the European Jewish Building & Rabbi of The European Synagogue Ohel Eliezer, insisted on the necessity to discuss the future; as there are many celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome this week which established the European Economic Community.
Rabbi Rosenblum stressed that although it is important to celebrate the past, the future is not in any body of government or official, but is up to us, the individual, to decide to do a random act of good and indeed change the world. He also took the opportunity to remind all participants of the powerful message of Passover that is so relevant today.
Rabbi Rosenblum then invited all to join in a march of solidarity to a memorial for victims of the Brussels attacks that has been unveiled close to Schuman roundabout in front of the EU’s External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic arm.
After the ceremony, Minister Jambon, Ambassadors, and Diplomatic representatives, including the rep. of Israel and the US, joined to pay their respects at the memorial.