U.N. commemorates 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombing
The United Nations on Monday held a special session in New York to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the AMIA Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires.
On July 18, 1994, 85 people were killed and more than 300 injured when a suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosive materials into the AMIA building. It’s widely believed that Iran was behind the attack, while the suicide bomber was a member of its proxy, Hezbollah.
AMIA president Ariel Eichbaum said that the 1994 terrorist attack, which became then the deadliest terrorist attack on Argentine soil, left a “toll of destruction and death has left a wound that has not been able to heal.”
“The Judicial inquiry that the masterminds of the attack came from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which to this date has refused to hand over the suspects who have interpol read notices on them to appear before a judge in Argentina,” Eichbaum said.
“Unfortunately the images of that day have happened again and again, more frequently in different cities and countries around the world,” he said. “The victims of fundamentalist terrorist amount to hundreds, regardless of race, religion or nationality.”
He made it clear that the “respect for diversity is threatened the bearers of supremacist and totalitarian ideas,” adding that those funding terrorism and such ideals must be held accountable.
Eichbaum added that AMIA “is an emblem of solidarity,” which translates the “universal values of Judaism into action.”
“Terrorism tried to destroy it, but today we are still standing strong,” he concluded.
Born and raised in Argentina, chairwoman of the North American Jewish Congress Evelyn Sommer, who was representing the World Jewish Congress at the UN commemoration, said the AMIA bombing shattered the “traditional shelter” and “hospitality” that Argentina had given to “the persecuted Jews of the 20th Century, the ones who had to flee the Kishinev pogroms and massacres and later on the catastophe that was the European Holocaust.”
“Through the years the Argentinian Jewish community became a thriving one,” she explained. “It developed an extraordinary network of social, cultural and educational institutions, but that hospitality, that shelter, that traditional shelter thay Argentina gave us was shattered 25 years with the destruction of the AMIA building.”
“We cannot forget that two years earlier the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires had also been bombed,” in which 29 people were killed and hundreds injured.
“I stand here today,” she pleaded, “requesting from the Argentine government to continue to seek justice, to call on Iran and its proxy Hezbollah to be accountable for their terrible deeds.”
During his address, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie quoted famed Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, saying that “to forget the dead would be akin to killing them again, a second time, for in the end it’a all about memory, its painful sources, its magnitude and of course the present circumstances.”
“In the case of the AMIA bombing, the present circumstances are not only conceptual or cultural, they are very concrete and very adamant in their presence,” he explained, “The need that we have to receive the inescapable justice by gathering here...on the one hand we are keeping alive the memory of the victims, their pain, but also we are here to demand justice, pursuing our emphatical work toward receiving the justice we claim.”
For Argentina, Faurie said, “the attack on AMIA was not only an attack against the Jewish community of Buenos Aires, it was a strike against the Argentinian people, democracy and freedom.”
The target of AMIA was seen as an active and well-integrated symbol of Argentina, he explained, stressing the importance of the Jewish community and how it is a “very energetic part” of Argentina’s “social, academic, cultural and economic” life.
“We are proud of it,” he said, adding that the attack came exactly 100 years after AMIA was first established.
“It will not be forgotten,” Faurie said, stressing that the Argentinian government would continue “working towards justice and those that we can refer [to] as suspects [in the AMIA attack] will be brought to justice in the Argentinian courts.”
“This is not negotiable to us, it is an unwavering commitment to national security that we fight against all forms of terrorism,” he said, stressing that “diversity” and freedom are the glue that unites Argentina’s society.