Almost thirty years ago to the day, a terror attack in Argentina shook the world, especially the Jewish community. Argentina is home to one of the largest Jewish communities outside of Israel, with around 200,000 members. AMIA, one of the most vibrant Jewish Community Centers in Buenos Aires, was almost entirely destroyed by one of the largest car bombs ever used in a terror attack. Eighty-five people lost their lives, and hundreds more were injured. The community never fully recovered. Until today, the case has not been solved, but it is an open secret that Hezbollah and the Iranian regime were pulling the strings. The failure to bring justice to those responsible for the murders, including the suspicious death of the chief investigator, Alberto Nisman, created public trauma. Two years prior to and up to eight days after the attack, additional deadly attacks occurred—presumably, all were carried out by Iranian actors.
The attack had a significant effect on both the Jewish community in Argentina and around the world. Police presence in front of Jewish facilities worldwide has been heightened ever since, including in Germany. This includes schools, kindergartens, and community centers. Long before I knew anything about the Latin-American Jewish community, I had heard of AMIA and its impact on Jewish existence. Some older alumni of the Jewish high school in Berlin told me that the security fence around the school in Berlin Mitte was built in the aftermath of the attacks. Whenever I would show Berlin visitors my former school, they voiced that they had mistaken the building for a prison. The understanding that Jewish communities themselves fall victim to malicious state actors in conflict with the state of Israel was present before but cemented after AMIA. To some, AMIA might sound like a distant incident worth remembering, but to those entering such buildings on a daily basis, it is a poignant reminder of why security plays such a central role in Jewish everyday life.
May the memory of those murdered before, during, and after the attacks forever be a blessing.
˝I attended several academic conferences on interreligious dialogue in the past, but I've never found a group like the one of DialoguePerspectives, that perfectly matches secularism with religions.
Eleonora, DialoguePerspectives participant