Justice defied

Justice defied

In what has to be one of the most egregious examples of justice defied, the Republic of Argentina has engaged a partner as it seeks to finally and authoritatively expose the perpetrators of the 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association). Argentina’s partner in forming what it calls a “truth commission” is the Islamic Republic of Iran, otherwise known as the most likely overall perpetrator of this act of terrorism. Eighty-five people were killed and many scores of others injured in the attack on the AMIA, a Buenos Aires Jewish community center.

It is like asking al-Qaeda to join an investigation into who was behind the 9/11 attacks, or Turkey to definitively probe accusations that there ever was murder of Armenians on a massive scale (what most of the world correctly refers to as the Armenian genocide).

In doing so, Argentina is reverting to the kind of behavior it apologized for in July 2005 – namely, a cover-up of the crime that ran down from the highest levels of the Argentine government into the darkest recesses of its investigative services. Indeed, over the years there has been evidence presented that a former president of Argentina, Carlos Menem, accepted a multimillion-dollar bribe to make the investigation go away. (Exactly how many millions remains a matter of dispute.)

In 2005, another president of the republic, Néstor Kirchner, called the government’s response to the crime a “national disgrace.” In the months that followed, fresh investigators, armed with new evidence that included credible testimony from former members of Iranian intelligence, filed a formal charge sheet accusing Iran and Hezbollah of carrying out the attack jointly. Argentine prosecutors subsequently asked Interpol to issue a Red Notice (roughly equivalent to an international arrest warrant and extradition request) for six people – five Iranian officials and a member of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Now, Argentina has made Iran its partner in assembling its “truth commission.” The news came as no surprise. Kirchner’s widow and successor as president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, telegraphed the move in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly several months ago. What does come as a surprise is Argentina’s stated belief that Iran has any interest in the truth. Its government long has been on record as insisting that the AMIA bombing was a “Zionist plot” designed to make it look bad.

Our hearts go out to the Argentine Jewish community, to the survivors of the bombing, and to the families of those killed. They have been seeking justice for over 18 years. Now they may never find it.