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Justice Elusive on the Anniversary of AMIA Bombing

19 years after the Argentina bombing killed 85, a community wants action

Romy Zipken
July 18, 2013
AMIA Memorial in Buenos Aires.(Flickr)
AMIA Memorial in Buenos Aires.(Flickr)

Thursday marks the 19th anniversary of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina bombing in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded many more. What happened that day remains unresolved and Argentine Jewish officials spoke out against the government today for “dealing with Iran in ways they fear will only guarantee more impunity for those responsible,” according to the New York Times.

A joint Argentine-Iran “truth commission” approved by both governments promises to move the investigation forward by enabling Argentine prosecutors to travel to Teheran and question high-ranking Iranian officials suspected of organizing the attack.

Prosecutor Alberto Nisman has blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the 1994 attacks, but Iran denies any involvement.

Speaking to a crowd of survivors huddling in Thursday’s frigid winter chill outside the rebuilt Jewish center, Association president Leonardo Jmelnitsky cast doubt on Iran’s intentions. “What confidence can we have in Iran when the same government has denied the genocide of six million Jews in the Holocaust?” Jmelnitsky asked.

In 2009, Ben Cohen wrote about the investigation in Tablet. He explained Nisman’s look into suspects of the bombing, notably, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, president of Iran when the AMIA bombing occurred. Nisman claimed that Rafsanjani was present at a 1993 meeting that addressed carrying out the attack.

Tellingly, the Iranians resorted to their usual bombast in denying involvement with the AMIA bombing, rather than supply any actual evidence which might contradict Nisman’s claims. Refusing Argentina’s extradition request for Rafsanjani and the other Iranians, Tehran accused Interpol of “succumbing to the Zionist regime.”

In 2013, Lee Smith wrote about Argentina’s approval of Iran to investigate the bombing when it was likely that Hezbollah committed the crime.

The reality is that the purpose of the agreement is to bury the case entirely. It’s not a truth commission, but a deal: In exchange for Buenos Aires handing Tehran a diplomatic coup, the Iranians will do their part to help rescue a moribund Argentinian economy through investment and trade.

At Thursday’s memorial, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was nowhere to be found, upsetting those in attendance, reports Haaretz.

Romy Zipken is a writer and editor at Jewcy. Her Twitter feed is @RomyZipken.