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Shelley Faintuch

Shelley Faintuch: Remembering the AMIA bombings

Shelley Faintuch, CISA Associate Director, July 11, 2013

Clever perhaps, but moderate?

The West, at least a large part of it, was highly enthusiastic about the results of Iran’s recent Presidential elections.  There was 70% turnout at the polls and the moderate, Hassan Rowhani, won handily. However, we in the West have a tendency to see the world in our own terms and to juxtapose our own definitions of words. While many believe that the election of the moderate Rowhani augurs well for a future with more rights for citizens, others will recognize that moderate is a subjective term. In Iran, ‘moderate’ is defined in terms of just eight candidates who were allowed to run for the position by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Hosseini Khameini and the Guardian Council. And that is a far cry from what we understand as moderate.

The current regime that permitted Rowhani to run is extremist and repressive, moving steadily towards nuclear armament capability. The Hon. Irwin Cotler, world renowned human rights advocate and Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, reminded us in a recent article that Rowhani presided over the secret nuclear program of Iran and has called Israel “the Great Zionist Satan.”

As July approaches, my Jewish memory kicks in. At 9:53 am, on July 18, 1994, a white Renault was driven into the Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires (AMIA) and detonated. Eighty five innocent people were killed and more than three hundred were wounded. The dead and injured included non-Jews and passers-by. The AMIA bombing is considered the deadliest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history. The chaos and sheer terror of the morning was captured on video cameras for the world to see. The building was destroyed. So, too was the sense of comfort and security of the Jewish community in Argentina and around the world. In the aftermath, numerous investigations were launched. Some of them were marred by corruption, others by incompetence and still others by inertia. Nineteen years later, no one has been brought to justice. Nonetheless, all of the investigations to date point the finger squarely at Hezbollah operatives. Iran not only masterminded the plot, but there is convincing evidence that Rowhani himself, if not on the committee then certainly in the corridors of the power that approved the AMIA bombing.

The problem with Rowhani is that West sees him as moderate compared to outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is seen as an extremist buffoon who was unambiguous about his antisemitism and hatred of Israel. So the world, at least the democratic world, have no problem denouncing Ahmadinejad overtly and questioning Iran and its policies. However, with a President-elect in Rowhani that purports to be a moderate, there is little energy for the world to continue haranguing about the extremist Iranian regime.

The Jewish people are bound together as a nation and as a people by our shared memory and our history. We remember in our prayers, in our holy books, in our traditions, and in our way of life. As a people, we remember the exodus, the rededication of the temple, the defeat of Haman and the Holocaust. As individuals, we say prayers and light candles to remember our loved ones. Therefore, as a people and as individuals we cannot forget the terrorist bombing of the AMIA which was the centre for culture and Jewish life in Buenos Aires. And while we remember, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent now that Ahmadinejad is no longer President of Iran. Rowhani is just as much a puppet in this antisemitic regime that continues to obfuscate its ultimate goals.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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