"We Will Never Cease to Stand by the Jewish People"

Published: July 27th 2010
in News » World

Minister Kent and Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentina President Aldo Donzis pay their respects to the victims of the AMIA bombing
Minister Kent, Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentina President Aldo Donzis, Canadian Ambassador to Argentina, Tim Martin, and Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina President Guillermo Borger lay a wreath in memory of the victims of the AMIA bombing
Minister Kent in front of a memorial art installation in the courtyard of the rebuilt AMIA centre

On July 18, 1994, in the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a bombing killed 85 people and injured hundreds. On that day, a van bomb loaded with about 275 kilograms (610 lbs) of fertilizer and explosives was detonated in front of the building located in a densely populated area of the city.




The blast totally destroyed the exposed walls of the building which, in turn, led to the progressive collapse of the entire building.




The majority of the 85 who died in the blast were Jewish, and more than 300 others were wounded. The attack came two years after the 1992 Israeli Embassy Attack in Buenos Aires that killed 29. To date, authorities have been unable to locate those responsible for either bombing.




Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas) told Shalom Life, "Sixteen years ago, terrorists ignited a blast that rocked Buenos Aires and shocked the world.  Eight-five men, women, and children were murdered; more than 300 others were wounded, and the community’s precious historical records were lost forever.  It was a blatantly anti-Semitic assault on one of the world’s most vibrant Jewish communities.” 




Argentina, incidentally, is home to a Jewish community of 200,000, the largest in Latin America. 




Two months ago, Minister Kent visited the site of this attack – as well as the Israeli Embassy that had been bombed two years prior.  "As I stood at the foot of a memorial to the dead with the presidents of Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina and Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentina,” he said, “I was reminded of the words penned by Viktor Frankel in Man’s Search for Meaning:  ‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.’” 




"I reflected on how this observation has applied to the Jewish community around the world throughout history,” continued Kent.  “Perhaps no people have been tried as greatly, and certainly none has persevered more resolutely. But no matter how horrific the treatment to which they have been subjected, the Jewish people have never relinquished their freedom to choose.  They have chosen perseverance.  They have chosen dignity.  They have chosen to embrace love and life over hate and death.  Those who seek to destroy the Jewish people, therefore, will never, ever succeed.  The boundless love of family, the unwavering commitment to community, and the unyielding devotion to faith form a triad that simply cannot be obliterated.”




On October 25, 2006, Argentine prosecutors Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martínez Burgos formally accused the government of Iran of directing the bombing, and the Hezbollah militia of carrying it out. According to the prosecution's claims in 2006, Argentina had been targeted by Iran after Buenos Aires' decision to suspend a nuclear technology transfer contract to Tehran.




This however, has been disputed, because this contract was never terminated, and Iran and Argentina were negotiating on restoration of full cooperation on all agreements from early 1992 till 1994, when the bombing occurred.




Kent emphasized that all peace-loving individuals have a duty to confront anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it reveals its face. "That is why our government has fully supported Argentina’s continuing efforts to pursue justice and the perpetrators of the bombings, and to have Iran turn over any of its nationals involved in the AMIA bombing,” explained Kent. “And that is why we will never cease to stand by the Jewish people in Canada, in Israel, and everywhere else in the world.”

Related articles: (Peter Kent, Argentina bombing)
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