Today is the 20th anniversary of the deadly bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed and 300 more were injured. It was the deadliest attack on Latin American soil, though no arrests have been made in the intervening two decades.
The investigation, meanwhile, has been marred by decades of incompetence and corruption—last year Argentina appointed Iran to help investigate the crime, which is largely believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah. At the time, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon likened the development to “inviting the murderer to participate in the murder investigation.”
Pope Francis, who was formerly the archbishop of Buenos Aires, has released a video commemorating the somber anniversary. Francis, who recently made a high-profile visit to Israel and hosted a prayer meeting at the Vatican between outgoing Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has been a longtime friend of Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, a relationship that has greatly shaped his views on Jewish issues.
According to JTA, the video was recorded this month at the Vatican on the cell phone of Claudio Epelman, the director of the Latin American Jewish Congress.
“On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the tragedy at the AMIA, I would like to express my solidarity with the Jewish community of Argentina and with all the family members of the victims, be they Jews or Christians,” he said in Spanish.
“Terrorism is lunacy. Terrorism’s only purpose is to kill. It does not build anything, it only destroys,” Francis said. “For this reason, I stand side by side with all those who have seen lives cut short, hopes destroyed, and ruin. Today, together with my solidarity and my prayers for all the victims, comes my desire for justice. May justice be done!”
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.