Cry for Argentina

March 4, 2013 3:27 pm 0 comments

A banner commemorating the bombings of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, in an urban square dedicated to peace in Rosario, Argentina. Photo: Pablo D. Flores via Wikimedia Commons.

Argentina has just approved a memorandum of understanding with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 terrorist bombing of the AMIA, or Jewish federation, building in Buenos Aires. The blast killed 85 people and wounded 300.

There’s only one problem with the agreement — it’s alleged that the current Iranian regime, plus its proxy, Hezbollah, was responsible for the attack. That’s not speculation, but the conclusion, reached years ago, by the Argentine government!

To further underscore the absurdity of this initiative, one of the individuals named by Argentina in the AMIA case — and, since 2007, the target of an INTERPOL “red notice,” meaning Argentina seeks his arrest and extradition — is, in fact, the current Iranian minister of defense. Is Iran about to hand him over to Argentina as a defendant in any trial? Yeah, right!

This whole episode would make for gut-splitting political satire were the stakes not so high.

After all, what took place in 1994 was the single deadliest terrorist assault in Latin America, and it followed on the heels of an earlier attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 29 people.

For years, I heard with my own ears one Argentine government after another promising to get to the bottom of the case, but, fueled by heavy doses of incompetence, hesitation, and corruption, no investigation ever got very far.

Meanwhile, families of the victims struggled to come to grips with the absence of justice, while many feared a third attack on a country that just couldn’t quite summon the resolve to pursue the perpetrators.

But then things began to change.

President Néstor Kirchner, the current leader’s late husband, came to the 2004 AJC Global Forum in Washington. He said, for the world to hear, that the unresolved investigation was a “national disgrace” and justice would no longer be delayed.

A determined special prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, was appointed in 2005 and given the mandate to go wherever the evidence took him, be it the tri-border area with Brazil and Paraguay, the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, Damascus, or Tehran.

And that resulted in a report that named five Iranians and one Hezbollah operative as linked to the attack, prompting a request for INTERPOL cooperation. Iran fought the move tooth-and-nail, using, above all, its time-tested diplomatic tools of bribery and blackmail. But at the showdown vote during the INTERPOL meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, Argentina prevailed.

When Cristina Kirchner took office in December 2007, succeeding her husband, the momentum initially continued. She had previously spoken out strongly on the case as an Argentine senator, including at the AJC Global Forum in Washington months before her election. She noted the double indignity it had brought to her country — a deadly attack against Argentina and pitifully little to show from years of investigation.

So, why this new turn of events by the very same leader, aided by her foreign minister, Hector Timerman? Why are they so determined to proceed with the memorandum of understanding, even in the face of a torrent of criticism from within the country, including from many civic groups, media outlets, and political parties (the accord was narrowly endorsed in the Argentine Senate and Chamber of Deputies by votes of 39-31 and 131-113, respectively), and abroad?

However they choose to cloak it, the most likely answer appears to be a desire to “repair” bilateral relations with Iran. Finding a formula to bring “closure” to the AMIA case would “normalize” the link, in turn yielding tangible political and economic benefits to Argentina.

Otherwise, they fear, this issue could drag on for many more years, with Argentina continuing to cut itself off from an Iran hungry to break out of the isolation the U.S. and Europe are seeking to impose — and to which Buenos Aires temperamentally is not nearly as committed.

Also striking has been the Kirchner administration’s thin skin since the deal was first announced.

It has lashed out at its critics, even reportedly threatening to complicate life for AMIA if its leadership continues to protest the devilish deal with Iran.

But, after all, Argentina is a democracy, and those who disagree are exercising their right to speak out.

Moreover, AMIA’s current leaders, some of whom were in the building on that fateful day in 1994, are still grappling with the trauma of what occurred nearly 19 years ago. They have had to bury their colleagues and friends, console the survivors, and constantly worry about the state of security. If they cannot express themselves about this particular Argentine-Iranian accord without fear of intimidation or retaliation, then who exactly is entitled to do so?

Every friend of Argentina, of democracy, and of justice should stand with those Argentines, Jews and non-Jews alike, who oppose a shameful pact with Iran that, yes, has echoes of the naiveté, self-delusion, and appeasement of the past.

Today, I cry for you, Argentina.

This article was originally published by The Huffington Post and The Jerusalem Post.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.