“The attack on AMIA was an attack on all of society”, Buenos Aires, Argentina

IN MEMORIUM, a bronze cast statue in the courtyard of the new AMIA building, with a hollowed out Mother Earth supporting a menorah in memory of the deceased, Pasteur 633, Buenos Aires, Argentina

IN MEMORIAM, a bronze cast statue in the courtyard of the new AMIA building, with a hollowed out Mother Earth supporting a menorah in memory of the deceased, Pasteur 633, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

The Jewish community in Argentina is one of the largest in the world. Jewish immigrants first arrived in Argentina with the founding of the new continent and continued to immigrate to the country ever since.  The vast majority of the Jews who came to Argentina are Ashkenazi, from Central and Eastern Europe.  This active social group of Argentines has left its traces in local culture from the very beginning. AMIA, the Mutual Association Israelite Argentina, is the community support organization for all Jews in Argentina, tracing its roots back to 1894.  Everything changed with the terrorist attack of July 18th, 1994 [believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah, supported by Iran], against AMIA in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Because we have memory, we demand justice” — AMIA

The AMIA headquarters building at Pasteur 633. July 18th, 1994.  9:53 a.m.  A big explosion, followed by a huge cloud of smoke and dust, destroyed 85 lives, 85 stories, 85 families.

In seconds, it devastated the head office of the iconic Jewish organization in Argentina, and everything that surrounded it.  Panic.  Ambulances.  People running.  Shattered glass fell off windows and covered the streets.  The cries from the crowd were a mixture of miracles and tragedies of destiny.  Deaths by the dozen.  Death.  Death.  Severely injured people carried to medical institutions.  As a spontaneous reaction, hundreds of volunteers showed up to help, comfort, share the crying.  The community needed to reorganize.  The building on Ayacucho 632 began to function as the site where families met to seek information about the victims of the attack, as well as the head office of AMIA.

Soon, AMIA resumed its essential operations, especially those pertaining social services.

The community, in the midst of such tremendous pain, responded.
  85 deadly victims.  More than 300 injured.  A building containing all of the Jewish history in Argentina destroyed.  A wound that remains open till today.
  The most horrible anti-Jewish act after World War II occurred in Argentina, on Pasteur 633.


It was on the 18th of July, 1994, at 9:53 AM.

“And thou shalt tell it to thy son… thy fellow man”


“…And thou shalt choose life…”

                                         Source for the above information:  http://www.amia.org.ar

 

Passengers exiting subway trains at the Pasteur - AMIA station see "cartoons" (panel one) illustrating the terrorist attack on AMIA in 1994, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Passengers exiting subway trains at the Pasteur – AMIA station see “cartoons” (panel one) illustrating the terrorist attack on AMIA in 1994, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

Passengers exiting subway trains at the Pasteur - AMIA station see "cartoons" ("The attack on AMIA was an attack on all of society") illustrating the terrorist attack on AMIA in 1994, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Passengers exiting subway trains at the Pasteur – AMIA station see “cartoons” (“The attack on AMIA was an attack on all of society”) illustrating the terrorist attack on AMIA in 1994, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

“The attack on AMIA was an attack on all of society”

 

Passengers exiting subway trains at the Pasteur - AMIA station see "cartoons" (panel two) illustrating the terrorist attack on AMIA in 1994, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Passengers exiting subway trains at the Pasteur – AMIA station see “cartoons” (panel two) illustrating the terrorist attack on AMIA in 1994, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

Yaacov Agam, "Monument to the Memory of the Victims of the Terrorist Attack on AMIA 18 July 1994", First Position, a profusely colored sculptuire, AMIA building courtyard, Pasteur 633, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Yaacov Agam, “Monument to the Memory of the Victims of the Terrorist Attack on AMIA 18 July 1994”, First Position, a profusely colored sculptuire, AMIA building courtyard, Pasteur 633, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

Our visit to the new AMIA headquarters building was much more challenging than we had expected.  When walking up Pasteur (street) — the same Pasteur as in the “Pasteur – AMIA” subway station [see above photos] —  to the entrance of AMIA’s building, we were warned by policemen not to stand anywhere near the entrance and not to take photographs.  Entering the security line was as tough (perhaps tougher) than getting through an El Al Airlines security screening.  We had to present passports, go through a metal detector, be interrogated and patted down (I have a metal hip replacement) and then made to wait quite a while in a holding room for our AMIA-employee guide to come down to meet us (four Americans and one Argentinian city guide). 

Visitors are greeted in the courtyard by a stunning vertical, multi-paneled sculpture by Yaacov Agam, “Monument to the Memory of the Victims of the Terrorist Attack on AMIA 18 July 1994”.  Depending on where one stands, there are four different “positions” — actually paintings which come together in a three-dimensional image when standing at just the right spot.  The photographs illustrate two of these views, with the memorial to the 85 victims on the far wall.

 

Subway stairs exit to the street from the platforms, Pasteur-AMIA statioin, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Subway stairs exit to the street from the platforms, Pasteur-AMIA statioin, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

Yaacov Agam, "Monument to the Memory of the Victims of the Terrorist Attack on AMIA 18 July 1994", Third Position, Magen David (Star of David), AMIA building courtyard, Pasteur 633, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Yaacov Agam, “Monument to the Memory of the Victims of the Terrorist Attack on AMIA 18 July 1994”, Third Position, Magen David (Star of David), AMIA building courtyard, Pasteur 633, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

AMIA was born as Chevra Kadisha in 1894, whose first activities focused on developing the necessary conditions to observe the Jewish tradition.  One of its first actions was the foundation of a community cemetery.  This action entailed the legitimation of the Jewish presence as a constituent minority of the Argentinean society.  Soon, its activities grew, multiplied and diversified with the successive immigration flows.  As from the 1920s, with the increase of Jewish population in Argentina and its progressive integration to society, AMIA became the space where all the Jewish people of Argentina could come together and participate.  Its historical house in Pasteur 633, which opened in 1945, reflected the drive of its development.  The memory of the 85 people who were killed when the building was bombed in 1994, the hundreds of injured and the survivors of this massive slaughter, remains alive.  The creative drive of a community willing to preserve the heritage of a cultural tradition that honors life and prioritizes justice settled on the debris.  In 1999, AMIA’s new building was inaugurated on the same site, at Pasteur 633.

 

Stained glass memorial window salvaged from the destroyed original AMIA building after the July 18, 1994, terrorist attack, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Stained glass memorial window salvaged from the destroyed original AMIA building after the July 18, 1994, terrorist attack, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

Temporary art exhibition, AMIA building, 933 Pasteur, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Temporary art exhibition, AMIA building, 933 Pasteur, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

A mural in memory of Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust, temporary art exhibition, AMIA building, 933 Pasteur, Buenos Aires, Argentina

A mural in memory of Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust, temporary art exhibition, AMIA building, 933 Pasteur, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

A mural with children reminding us to seek truth and justice as we remember the murdered, temporary art exhibition, AMIA building, 933 Pasteur, Buenos Aires, Argentina

A mural with children reminding us to seek truth and justice as we remember the murdered, temporary art exhibition, AMIA building, 933 Pasteur, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

 

5 thoughts on ““The attack on AMIA was an attack on all of society”, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  1. Hi Richard,

    FYI. I was in BA the day of the bombing.

    More recently the investigation by Alberto Nisman and his accusations linking then President Christina Kirschner to a cover up of who was responsible for the bombing which was very typical of the mystery and intrigue of Argentine politics. The mystery became more involved when Nisman was found dead; either by suicide (government version) or murdered which is the more popular belief.

    Gene

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A comment above mentions that the investigation into the AMIA 1994 bombing was undertaken by an Argentine federal prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who was murdered the day before he was going to publicly name Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of being involved in the cover up of Iran’s role in the 1994 AMIA bombing. The “Times of Israel” today published an article that updates the investigation into Nisman’s death:

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA), March 22, 2016 — “A year on, signs of progress in probe into Nisman’s death: New testimony, questions over past handling of case give impetus to claims that prosecutor in attack on Jewish center was murdered”

    An extraordinary series of developments are bringing new hope — and new heartbreak — to the family and colleagues of Alberto Nisman, the Argentine federal prosecutor who was found dead last year just days after accusing then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of covering up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the city’s AMIA Jewish center. Fourteen months after Nisman was found dead in his apartment with a single bullet in the head, no autopsy results have been released and no official cause of death has been determined. But on February 29, Antonio “Jaime” Stiuso, Argentina’s former head of intelligence operations, who has been living in exile in the United States for the past year, delivered bombshell testimony, accusing Kirchner of ordering a hit on Nisman and seeking to portray his death as a suicide. “They killed Nisman because of the work he was doing,” Stiuso said in testimony lasting 17 uninterrupted hours, according to numerous media reports. “The author of all this madness was that woman, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner,” he said. “When the madness of the former president became explicit, I had to take my family and move.” Stiuso wasn’t done. Referring to Iran, he said, “When you have these people as your enemy, there’s no point in having bodyguards.” At the time of his death, Nisman, 51, had been under guard by a contingent of officers from the Argentine Federal Police. Their absence from his residence on the night of January 18, 2015 has yet to be explained. Hours after Stiuso finished testifying, the presiding judge, Fabiana Palmaghini, who took charge of the probe in December, excused herself from further handling the case. In a document over 30 pages long that she managed to produce in a matter of hours, Palmaghini charged Viviana Fein, the investigator of Nisman’s death, with ignoring testimony Stiuso provided in 2015 in which he allegedly said Nisman was killed. Hours after Nisman’s death was discovered, and for no known reasons, Fein announced she was investigating it as a suicide.

    [The complete article is at: http://www.timesofisrael.com/a-year-on-signs-of-progress-in-probe-into-nismans-death/#.VvFiQTfJ1Us.mailto%5D

    Like

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