Survivors of last year’s terrorist bombing of the Jewish headquarters here have joined the relatives of victims in boycotting events marking the reconstruction of the building.
Both the survivors and relatives of the victims refused to participate as the foundation stone of the new building was laid last week, at the same site of the July 18, 1994 attack, which killed 86 people and wounded at least 300.
They also boycotted earlier ceremonies at the presidential palace.
Argentine President Carlos Menem had invited Jewish leaders Aug. 15 to a ceremony at which he signed his name to a parchment that was later placed under the new building’s foundation stone.
Menem, who added his signature to those of hundreds of people who had already signed the parchment, praised the Jewish community’s decision to rebuild the Argentine Mutual Aid Association, or AMIA, at the site of the bombed-out headquarters on Pasteur Street.
“Let this be an example to those irrational savages who go around the world thinking they can destroy a people by bombings and terrorism,” Menem said at the signing ceremony.
Beneath his signature, the president added the words, “With love to the Jewish community.”
Among those present at the singing ceremony were Alberto Crupnicoff, president of AMIA; Ruben Beraja, president of DAIA, the Argentine Jewish political organization; and members of the Argentine Cabinet.
But survivors and relatives were dismayed by the activities.
“We find this whole thing a travesty,” said a woman who lost her husband in the bombing.
“It is a shame that they turn this into a high-profile publicity stunt for a government that is doing so little to find the culprits of so much death and pain,” she added, condemning the Argentine government’s inability to locate those responsible for the bombing.
“They want to build an office building over the scene of the most savage bombing in Argentine history,” said an irate survivor.
“People will go there on errands, stepping over our past. They want to erase and forget what happened.”