Remembering the 85 victims of Buenos Aries attack

June 28, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Around 40 people attended a commemoration held at the Official Residence of the Ambassador of Argentina to Australia in Canberra to mark the 25th Anniversary of the terrorist attack against the Argentine Jewish Community Centre (AMIA).

The aftermath

Organised by the Foreign Ministry of Argentina in co-operation with the World Jewish Congress, the Latin American Jewish Congress, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the ACT Jewish Community, the commemoration held on Wednesday was replicated in many other parts of the world including Washington DC, Mexico, Ottawa, Paris, London, Madrid, Rome, Berlin, Moscow, South Africa, Tel Aviv, New York and Geneva.

Among those in attendance at the kosher-catered event were the Argentinian Ambassador, Hugo Gobbi, Israeli Ambassador, Mark Sofer, Brazilian Ambassador, Sergio Eduardo Moreira Lima, Russian Ambassador, Dr Alexey Pavlovsky, Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, the President of the ACT Jewish Community, Veronica Leydman, and members of her Board of Management, ECAJ Public Engagement Officer, Samantha Khavin, and Rabbi Shmueli and Rebbetzin Chassia Feldman.

The Argentine Ambassador gave a moving speech which was followed by the showing of a three-minute video with footage of the immediate aftermath of the terror attack.

Veronica Leydman

In addressing the gathering, Veronica Leydman, who described herself as “a third-generation Argentine Jew”, told of how she had returned to the land of her birth accompanied by her husband and three children. “We saw the long horizontal board on a side wall of the [AMIA] building – a black background filled with the first names of 85 victims in white capital letters. In the middle of the list of names, is the date of the terrorist attack on the AMIA, underneath the words ‘memoria y justicia’ – memory and justice.

This attack was an assault on innocent citizens, on Jews and non-Jews, on workers in and around the building, on ordinary civilians going about their day in downtown Buenos Aires”, Ms Leydman said.

She then quoted Adrian Wertheim, the President of the Latin American Jewish Congress: “It is fundamental to share with the world the experience of international terrorism that hit Argentina. This was an attack against all Argentines, a sentiment that is shared by all in our country. It is essential that we continue to share the memory of the attack and demand justice on all levels.  Global terrorism and indiscriminate attacks against Jewish communities are continuing around the world. We must make it clear these horrific crimes will never be tolerated and do everything in our power to prevent them from happening again.”

Although Hezbollah and Iran are widely believed to have been responsible for the AMIA bombing, Ms Leydman noted that there had almost certainly been a government cover-up, and no-one had ever been held to account for the crime.

She concluded with her own observation: “And so, recalling the words ‘memory and justice’ it is with a heavy heart that I stand here today, as a citizen of Argentina and Australia, as a lawyer, as a Jew and a leader of my Jewish Community and hope that we should not have to wait another 25 years for answers. Though we hold dear the memory of families and loved ones of the victims affected by this terrorist act, we must also remember they are still waiting for justice to be served”.

 

Ambassador Hugo Gobbi said in his address: “The government of Argentina is fully committed to seeking justice for the 85 people who died and the hundreds who were injured during the AMIA attack in 1994; the government of Argentina will not rest until all those involved are brought before Argentine courts and convicted.

As you all know, the Jewish community in Argentina is one of the largest in the world. It is well integrated in our society and makes an outstanding contribution. Argentina’s art, culture and identity would not be the same without that contribution. We have learned from our Jewish brothers and sisters the value of life; we are part of God’s creation and were made in God’s image.”

A memorial prayer was sung by Rabbi Feldman who also spoke at the event.

He spoke of the impact of the terrorist attacks in Argentina on the Jewish community worldwide and on the Jewish and Chassidic perspective on mourning.
Rabbi Feldman spoke of his positive experiences in the wider Argentinian community as a Rabbinic student and Shliach and the warmth exhibited by them in solidarity with the Jewish people following the attacks.
Rabbi Feldman sang the traditional Memorial prayer – Kel malei rachamim.

The proceedings closed with the observance of a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the attack.

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