NEW YORK (Jul. 27)
Amid stepped-up security at Jewish organizations worldwide, a memorial service held here Wednesday for those killed last week in Buenos Aires was transformed into a forum for voicing fear and concern for Israeli and Jewish targets around the world.
The service, which was organized by the World Jewish Congress, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the New York Jewish Community Relations Council, took on broader significance in the wake of explosions targeting Jews in Panama and London that followed the attack in Buenos Aires in which about 100 people were killed.
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, present among a phalanx of international diplomats and Jewish organizational leaders at the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan, said, “I don’t think that the country should panic,” but “the possibility exists that there could be incidents here, serious incidents here.
“The FBI and the police are keeping a very prudent eye” on Jewish institutions, the mayor said.
Caution was also the message of Israeli Consul General Colette Avital, who asked, “Who will be the next?”
She said that the Middle East peace process had been so encouraging. “We had sweet hopes that are no longer” since the attacks on the Argentine Jewish center and on the Israeli Consulate and Joint Israel Appeal office in London.
“The enemies of peace will destroy our dreams,” she said, adding: “Let us remember that the bombs did not distinguish between those who carry an Israeli passport and those who don’t.”
Evelyn Sommer, chair of the American Section of the World Jewish Congress and an Argentine native, lamented not only the human loss but the loss of the Argentine Jewish community’s archives, which described “the survivors of Kishinev, the survivors of Babi Yar, the Jewish cowboys — the gauchos — the Yiddish theater. All the records are gone.”
Michael Schneider, executive vice president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, said that 50 years ago, when the Buenos Aires Kehilla building was being built, Moises Sendery, the head of the community, “was criticized for putting up granite walls.
“He said, ‘someday we will be attacked’ Sadly, he was right,” said Schneider.