February 28, 2000
In 1992, terrorists bombed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires killing 29 people, and wounding dozens more. In 1994, 86 people were killed and scores more hurt when the AMIA Jewish Community Center was bombed. More than 6 years later, the perpetrators of these crimes have yet to be brought to justice. However, in recent months we have seen some encouraging developments. President Fernando de la Rua’s government, which took office in December 1999 has publicly committed itself to accelerating the pace of the investigations into the bombings and clarifying the internal connection that facilitated these heinous crimes.
Still, there have been efforts to downplay the logistical support, in both bombings, of some local elements of the Argentine security forces sympathetic to anti-Semitic positions. These same policemen have ignored or taken part in Jewish cemetery desecrations in recent years, promoting a sense of vulnerability among Argentine Jews.
In light of the above, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) urges President de la Rua and his government to fulfill the promise to conduct these investigations vigorously, and to finally bring the perpetrators to justice. Additionally, we encourage the new government to bring a stop to the cemetery desecrations by identifying, trying and punishing those responsible — regardless of any political considerations. We also encourage the government to remove from the Buenos Aires police force those extreme elements that promote or tolerate racial hatred within Argentine society. Security measures should be reinforced to foster a sense of safety within the Jewish community and in Argentine society generally. The JCPA urges development of active cooperation among the various Argentine faith communities, including lay and religious leaders, as a means of enhancing security in the country.
The JCPA urges its member agencies to keep these issues at the forefront of U.S. and world attention until they have been resolved in a satisfactory manner, and to express support and solidarity with the Argentine Jewish community. Specifically, we call upon the international community, including human rights organizations and other NGOs, to join in monitoring the upcoming trial – now scheduled for June 2000 – of 20 people, mostly former Buenos Aires police officers accused of being involved in the AMIA bombing. The government and people of Argentina must know that the world will be watching.