B’nai B’rith International remembers the 23rd anniversary of the Israeli Embassy bombing in Buenos Aires. The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who drove a truck loaded with explosives into the corner of the embassy on the afternoon of March 17, 1992. The terrorist detonated the bombs and killed 29 people, injured 242 and also destroyed a church and a school.
Until the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building was bombed in 1994, it was the deadliest terror attack in South America. In the tragedy at the AMIA building, 85 people died and 300 people were injured. Iran has long been linked to both bombings, but none of the perpetrators have been brought to justice.
Iranian involvement and alleged Argentinian complicity in the cover-up in the AMIA attack has been recently reinserted into the public consciousness. The suspicious death of Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman has sparked outrage among Argentinians and created a demand for answers. Nisman died shortly after he filed a complaint against Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman alleging they offered Iran impunity before jointly creating the “Commission of Truth,” designed to find those responsible for the attack.
“While we await more answers on Alberto Nisman’s death and the Argentine government’s actual role within the ‘Commission of Truth,’ we cannot forget where and when Iran’s savagery in South America began: at the Israeli Embassy on March 17, 1992. And B’nai B’rith will not forget that,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.
The attacks on the embassy and on the AMIA building have been credited to Iran’s terror arm Hezbollah, making the news of Iran and Argentina’s creation of the “Commission of Truth” in January 2013 and the allegations of the president and foreign minister shielding Tehran from punishment all the more shocking.
“B’nai B’rith has followed Nisman’s investigation into the AMIA bombing over the years and we have strongly supported his efforts. We hoped that if he uncovered the truth behind AMIA, the perpetrators behind the embassy bombing may be brought closer to justice,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Iran, through Hezbollah, has carried out global terror attacks for decades. Tehran needs to be held accountable. His death creates a gaping void in the pursuit of terrorists.”
NYC Snowstorm Forces Postponement of U.S. Event
Every year on January 27 the world recognizes United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day, a date selected marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation and B’nai B’rith International was active throughout Latin America, commemorating this important day.
In Uruguay an exhibit on Anne Frank was created and inaugurated in Montevideo’s city hall, the capital and the country’s largest city. Uruguayan President José Mujica attended the event, addressing the audience and the entire nation in a speech broadcast on radio and television. Mujica’s remarks focused on the evils of the Shoah and the atrocities of genocide. Meanwhile, the General Assembly of Uruguay held a solemn session in which representatives of all parties addressed the legislature in commemoration of the Holocaust. B’nai B’rith, the overall Jewish community and the Ministry of Education also hosted an academic event titled “70 Years After Auschwitz was Closed” at Montevideo city hall.
With all the tensions swirling within Argentina following the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman—the man responsible for investigating the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building that killed 85 and wounded 300—Holocaust Remembrance Day in Buenos Aires was extremely emotional. Typically the commemoration ceremony is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Justice and the Undersecretary of Human Rights, but amid the questions surrounding Nisman’s death all Jewish organizations declined to attend. B’nai B’rith has formally declined an invitation for the past two years following Argentina’s signing of the “Memorandum of Understanding” with Iran, an agreement which purports to investigate the terror attack.
Instead, a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony was held at the AMIA building. The commemoration was a crowded, emotional scene as Holocaust survivors were present and the AMIA president spoke on behalf of the Jewish organizations present. B’nai B’rith Argentina President Mario Wilhelm lit the fourth candle on the menorah on behalf of partisans and Jewish fighters who died while resisting the Nazis.
B’nai B’rith sponsored a Holocaust Remembrance Day program in Santiago, Chile as well, where it was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with ministers, ambassadors, civilian, religious and military authorities, survivors and their families in attendance.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Heraldo Muñoz addressed the audience, highlighting the government’s commitment to protecting minorities in Chile and the urgent need to reject all types of discrimination pervasive in society.
Executive Vice President of the National Institute of Human Rights and winner of the Light and Memory Award Lorena Fries also spoke, as did B’nai B’rith Chile President Emma Finkelstein.
In her remarks, Finkelstein discussed the main threats to Israel, Jews around the world and to Chile. She acknowledged the success of the Anti-Discrimination Act that was enacted last year, but regretted the fact that anti-Semitism was not explicitly included as a means of discrimination. Finkelstein also called for a bill seeking to establish hate speech as a crime and for the Holocaust to be included in the official curriculum of the Ministry of Education.
“On behalf of the Jewish community and as president of B’nai B’rith Chile,” Finkelstein said, “we know it is our obligation to raise our voice and condemn these actions that we hope will not be accepted by the international community. We owe it to the dead but, above all, we owe it to the living, to our children as well as to your children.”
In Brazil two ceremonies were held, including an interreligious ceremony with Christians and Muslims at the Congregação Israelita Paulista in São Paulo. The second ceremony was hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs at the Itamaraty Palace with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in attendance.
Unfortunately, a snow storm in New York City forced the postponement of B’nai B’rith International’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day program at the United Nations. This year’s program was to focus on Arturo Toscanini, one of the most renowned orchestral maestros of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Tuscanini was a staunch anti-fascist who publicly took a hard-line stance against the oppression and racism of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and supported the establishment of the orchestra now known as the Israel Philharmonic in 1936 in solidarity with young Jewish musicians escaping Nazi persecution. The B’nai B’rith program was to be held in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations. The event will be rescheduled.
Alberto Nisman bravely fought for justice after 1994 bombing of Jewish building in Buenos Aires
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
We mourn the shocking loss of brave Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found dead late Sunday night at his home under mysterious circumstances.
A prosecutor is investigating his death, which is preliminarily being called a suicide.
It appears Nisman died on Sunday. He was scheduled to appear today before the Argentine Congress to go over his recent findings.
Nisman was courageous and determined in his investigation of the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building that killed 85 and wounded 300. Just days ago, B’nai B’rith commended Nisman for his dogged investigation that led to his filing a complaint against Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman alleging they offered Iran impunity before jointly creating the “Commission of Truth,” designed to find those responsible for the attack.
For years, Nisman heroically followed evidence in the terror attack wherever it led.
When the “Commission of Truth” was first signed two years ago, B’nai B’rith was dubious as to whether any actual information would surface, let alone lead to the prosecution of the perpetrators. Iran, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror, is widely acknowledged to be behind the AMIA attack.
Officials from the top levels of the government were named in Nisman’s original report as being responsible for the bombing. Interpol issued arrest warrants for the attack, but no arrests have ever been made. Given Iran’s deplorable judicial track record and its refusal to turn over those previously implicated in the bombings, there was little doubt any serious “truth” would be produced.
We have closely followed Nisman’s investigation over the years and have strongly supported his efforts. His death creates a gaping void in the pursuit of terrorists.
B’nai B’rith sends its deepest condolences to Nisman’s family.
B’nai B’rith Commends Argentine Prosecutor for Pursuing Alleged AMIA Cover-Up by Top Government Officials
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International commends Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman for continuing to press for answers in 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building that killed 85 and wounded 300. In a shocking turn of events, yesterday Nisman filed a complaint against Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman alleging they offered Iran impunity before jointly creating the “Commission of Truth,” designed to find those responsible for the attack.
When the “Commission of Truth” was first signed two years ago, B’nai B’rith was near-certain that no actual information would surface, let alone lead to the prosecution of the perpetrators. Iran, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror, is widely acknowledged to be behind the AMIA attack. Officials from the top levels of the government were named in Nisman’s original report as being responsible for the bombing. Interpol issued arrest warrants for the attack, but no arrests have ever been made. Given Iran’s deplorable judicial track record and its refusal to turn over those previously implicated in the bombings, there was little doubt any serious “truth” would be produced.
But Nisman’s allegations that the president and foreign minister essentially shielded Iran from any blame in the attack before announcing the formation of the “Commission of Truth” are serious, and they raise questions about the suggestion that the Argentine government may have been naïve in this matter.
B’nai B’rith hopes that because of Nisman’s courage in getting to the bottom of this apparent obfuscation and deception, not only will his fellow countrymen, but the rest of Latin America and the world open its eyes to the evils of Iranian regime and those caught in its web of terror.
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