Hope for justice has been ‘eliminated’

By Ariel Schmidberg, ISRAEL HAYOM

A few days after the murderous bombing at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, a terrorist attack that killed 85 innocent people in the blink of an eye, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the main squares across Argentina to protest and demand justice. This was the first step in a long, painful and frustrating and journey that ended this week, after more than 20 years, on a shameful note.

At the start, moments of silence were observed in honor of the victims. With time, the commemoration changed: In some of the ceremonies, the moment of silence was replaced with a moment of a deafening crying out meant to “wake up” the government. But to no avail. On the cold and gray morning of July 18, 1994, the face of an already scarred Argentina changed forever, after many long years of cruel dictatorship that made sure to “eliminate” anyone suspected of subversion.

Prosecutor Alberto Nisman dedicated a substantial part of his life to exposing the truth about the bombing and uncovered many details surrounding the Iranian involvement in the attack as well as the Argentinian efforts to whitewash the affair. Two decades later, Nisman became the 86th victim of the attack. He was pushed aside, “eliminated” if you will, in the traditional Argentinian way.

The autopsy of Nisman’s body could reveal that he ended his own life. That is a possibility. But anyone who knew him and his commitment to the case knows that it is extremely unlikely that he voluntarily gave up on his moral duty to expose the culprits of this crime. The extensive and detailed information that he possessed apparently posed a threat to the local leadership as well as to the Iranian regime. Did someone in Argentina order his assassination? Was it Iranian agents in Argentina who got to him hours before his dramatic testimony in front of parliament? We will never know.

After learning how the Argentines handled the investigations into the 1994 Jewish community center bombing and the 1992 Israeli embassy bombing, also in Buenos Aires, it is impossible not to compare their conduct to that of Israeli authorities in relation to terror attacks on Israeli soil. In Israel it may take some time, but in most cases the authorities hone in on the culprits. Not so in Argentina.

More than 20 years after the attack, the responsible parties are still roaming free. And that is the way it will remain. “Veinte años no es nada” (20 years are nothing) says the famous tango. But that is not the feeling here.

It wasn’t only a hardworking prosecutor who died this week. Hope for justice died with him.

January 20, 2015 | Comments »

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