BUENOS AIRES (Mar. 19)
A memorial service is usually about the past. But a service honoring the victims of the 1992 terrorist attack at the Israeli Embassy was also about the present — and the future. Braving an afternoon of constant rain, hundreds of people gathered at a Buenos Aires corner to pay tribute to the 29 people killed in the attack.
Last Friday’s demonstration started exactly at 2:50 p.m., the time on March 17, 1992, that a bomb destroyed the local embassy.
Calls for justice in the still-unsolved case were heard, as was criticism of Iran, which is believed to be behind the embassy bombing, as well as a 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish center here.
Israel’s ambassador to Argentina, Rafael Eldad, demanded that Argentina and the international community consider the Islamic government of Iran a “global threat.”
Eldad was the cultural attache during the attack; he was out of the office at the AMIA center when the bomb destroyed the embassy.
To Eldad, Iran’s responsibility for the Israeli Embassy and AMIA attacks were precursors to the Islamic republic’s current threats to build a nuclear weapons program and calls by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to destroy Israel.
Under strict security measures — including dogs and explosives division police officers — Jewish leaders, victims’ relatives, rabbis and students listened to a shofar being blown.
Jorge Telerman, Buenos Aires’ new mayor and the city’s first Jewish leader, also attended the event.
Telerman’s public participation in this commemoration was his first since he formally took office this month.
Two hours before the service, some 100 people protested in front of the Iranian Embassy. Young members of the Zionist World Organization, with the support of the Argentina Zionist Organization, AMIA and the DAIA Jewish political umbrella group gathered in front of the embassy to repudiate the Islamic republic’s policies and actions.
“We are here to warn Argentine society that we should be careful with Iranian politics, that this country had a lot to do with the AMIA and Israeli embassy attacks,” said Ariel Merper, coordinator of the Maccabean Argentine Youth.
Young members of the Jewish community were also present at the embassy commemoration.
“I always recall I was at school when the Israeli Embassy was bombed, and we had to evacuate our Jewish school immediately. I recall the rush. I am aware there are almost no advances in the investigation of this case. But I have hope. I look for justice,” said Eliana Rapp, 24.
Salomon Said stood a few feet away from Rapp. A man who lost his son, Ricardo Hugo Said, and his nephew, Marina Raquel Said, in the AMIA attack, Said attends every demonstration to press for justice.
Although most believe that Hezbollah and Iran were responsible for the embassy attack, this has never been proven. The Argentine Supreme Court, in charge of the investigation, has not made much progress in the case.