MIAMI-DADE

Crowd in North Miami-Dade synagogue mourns fatal bombing of AMIA Jewish center in Argentina

 

Thousands of miles from Argentina, hundreds in Miami's Jewish community mourned the fatal bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center.

mdisare@MiamiHerald.com

A set of sobering facts consumed the candlelit crowd gathered at the Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus in Northeast Miami-Dade on Thursday night.

Eighty-five deaths and 20 years later, not a single person has been arrested in the grisly bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Argentina.

Thousands of miles from Argentina, hundreds in Miami's Jewish community mourned the tragedy. The event was run by the AJC Latino and Latin American Institute and supported by over 40 other local Jewish organizations.

“We must keep on demanding justice, exercising our memory and standing up for the rule of law,” said Miguel Bronfman, the AMIA attack’s head lawyer, who received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Candles were lit in memory of each victim as their pictures appeared on a large projector screen. Representatives from the governments of Argentina and Israel spoke out against the violence and stood in solidarity with the Jewish community.

The attack took place in 1994, when a van full of explosives drove into the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires, killing a group of Jews and non-Jews alike and leaving 300 wounded.

No one has been brought to justice for the event, but a suicide bomber and member of the Lebanese group Hezbollah is responsible, Bronfman said. He added that a number of members of the Iranian government were key to masterminding the event.

Evidence linking Iranians to the bombing has been mounting for years. Bronfman listed phone calls, documents and witnesses as clear-cut proof of Iranian involvement.

Others in the Jewish community agree wholeheartedly with Bronfman.

“There are tons and tons of documents and files,” said Juan Dircie, associate director of the AJC Latino and Latin American Institute of Miami. “It’s so crystal clear that Iran was involved in the entire process.”

But the Iranian and Argentine governments have not been able to effectively close the case. In 2013, Iran and Argentina signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ that would establish a ‘truth commission’ to investigate the bombing, but the Argentine court system declared the memorandum unconstitutional in 2014.

“We know the truth. We don't need this,” Bronfman said, referring to the memorandum.

He added that without the cooperation of the Iranian government it will be difficult to arrest those responsible for the terrorist act.

Cities across the United States are holding demonstrations to remember those lost in the bombing.

This is the AJC’s ninth annual memorial.

For those left with no resolution, the demonstrations remain a small consolation in a long and bitter string of disappointments.

“The same way the twin towers are very alive in every person … you live with it,” said Marcelo Warat, a representative of the synagogue hosting the event.

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