During a visit to Buenos Aires last autumn, the Zionist Leadership Academy visited the AMIA memorial: the Jewish cultural center that was destroyed in a terrorist attack on July 18, 1994. On the anniversary of the attack, HaTikwa publishes an interview with Federico Nemetsky, the Secretary General of the World Zionist Organization Argentina, who has been a volunteer at the memorial for years.
Founded in 1894, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) is the vibrant heart of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, responsible for many aspects of local Jewish life, from school education to cemetery care.
One hundred years later, on the morning of July 18, a van loaded with explosives crashed into the building’s wall, killing 85 people and injuring over 300.
Today, the building retains a surreal atmosphere. In addition to stringent security checks at the entrance, the memorial consists of an outdoor courtyard adorned with various murals displaying the names and faces of the victims. It serves as an Argentinean ground zero that disturbs the observer from afar, suddenly revealing a void, a sheer drop, amidst the dense forest of buildings in Buenos Aires. At the center of the courtyard, a Hanukkah menorah has been installed along with murals dedicated to the victims of 1994, adjacent to the new AMIA building, inaugurated only 5 years after the attack.
“The attack was not only against the Jewish community but against all of Argentina,” emphasized Nemetsky. Among the victims, there were not only Jews but also Christians, in general, Argentinians. “The commemoration is felt as a wound not only by the Jewish community but by the entire Argentinean citizenry,” he added.
According to the Secretary General of the World Zionist Organization Argentina, it is important to pass on to young people what happened 29 years ago. “Year after year, we teach the new generations the lessons of our past so that they perceive these events as part of their own history and identity. This is an essential goal for us, which is primarily manifested in two ceremonies: the first, on the eve of July 18, dedicated to Jewish youth movements, who can delve into the significance of this date. Then, the following morning, the public ceremony takes place, attended not only by a wide institutional representation but also by a significant participation of the general public,” he explained.
Yet, to this day, many questions still surround the 1994 attack. Initially, the incident was almost hidden and overlooked by the Argentinean authorities, leading to accusations of involvement by the local police. One of the first public figures to acknowledge the events and launch a campaign in memory of the 85 victims was Cardinal José Maria Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, in 2005.
However, even after so many years, a clear responsible party has not been identified. There have been various suspicions related to Hezbollah and Iranian involvement, who were responsible for the attack on the Israeli embassy in 1992, but no suspects have ever appeared in court. Interpol’s investigations are still ongoing.
Studente di Medicina presso Humanitas University di Milano e dal 2022 Presidente UGEI
Nato e cresciuto a Siena, svolge anche il ruolo di Responsabile Desk Israele