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David Matas

David Matas: Remembering the AMIA bombing

by David Matas, July 18, 2014

Remarks delivered at a commemorative ceremony, 18 July, 2014, Asper Jewish Community Centre, innipeg)                                                                                          



I want to thank Earl Barish for his congratulations, congratulating me on winning the 2014 Carthage International award for peace and human rights.  I actually was in ancient Carthage once, piles of ruins north of Tunis in Tunisia.  Carthage at one time ruled the then know world of the Mediterranean.  They were defeated by the Romans. 


I went to Italy, to Rome, last week to pick up the award.  I did not visit the Arch of Titus this time, but I think about it every time I am there. The Arch celebrates the triumph of Vespasian the father and Titus the son over the Jews in 70 a.d., their dispersal, and the destruction of the Temple.  The Arch friezes show Jews being marched away from Israel in chains and the loot from the destruction of the Temple being brought to Rome.


The Carthaginian and Roman Empires and civilization are long gone.  The people of Israel live, not just in the diaspora, but back in Israel.


When I come to an event like this, I am reminded of the Biblical story of Haman, Ashehuerus, Esther and Mordecai.  Who remembers Haman today except the Jewish people? And for what is he remembered, other than the persecution of the Jews?


Two thousand years from now, the regime of the mullahs of Iran will long be gone. One thing, and maybe the only thing for which that regime will then be remembered, is the AMIA bombing.


Today we commemorate not one event but two.  We commemorate the deaths from the Iranian bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18 July, 1994, twenty years ago today.  We also commemorate the survival of the Jewish people.


As we recognize the dead of the AMIA bombing, we also recognize that the spirit of the people of Israel lives.  Am Yisrael Chai.


David Matas is an international human rights lawyer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and senior honorary counsel to B'nai Brith Canada

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