(Washington, D.C., July 17, 2020)--B’nai B’rith is commemorating the 26th anniversary of the worst anti-Semitic attack in Argentina’s history. On July 18, 1994, terrorists drove a van loaded with explosives to a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA). The attack killed 85 civilians and wounded 300 others. Its perpetrators, widely thought to be Hezbollah linked to Iran, have not been brought to justice.
In a discussion with B'nai B'rith CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin, Eduardo Kohn, BBI director of Latin American Affairs, said, “Latin America, especially South America, did not understand what was happening or even want to understand. In 1992, the reaction of Latin American countries, Latin American governments, was to say, there has been a bombing in Buenos Aires against the Israeli embassy, but this is…the import of the Middle East conflict. It was an attack on Argentina. It was an attack on the Jewish community. It was a clear anti-Semitic attack [targeting]…the center of the heart of Jewish community in Latin America, Argentina.”
Watch a virtual discussion with Mariaschin, Kohn and Special Advisor on Latin American Affairs Adriana Camisar by clicking the link here.
In the discussion, Camisar outlined some of the reasons that made terrorists target Argentina’s Jewish community. “At the time, our president was [Carlos] Menem, who had decided to have a closer relationship with the U.S., with Israel," Camisar said. "Nisman, who was the prosecutor of the AMIA case, thought that one of the reasons was that Menem had canceled a nuclear agreement with Iran, but there were other reasons. I remember he cited also the fact that Argentina had the largest Jewish community in South America. They knew that the borders of Argentina were very porous, very easy to cross. This is sad for me to say, but they also knew there was a lot of corruption in Argentina, so it was fertile ground to do something like this. And one other thing – there was a lot of anti-Semitism in the security and armed forces of Argentina, so maybe that made it easier, too.”
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org.