July 18, 2023 — Washington, DC
American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO Ted Deutch today observed the 29th anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and vowed the global Jewish community would not rest until those responsible are brought to justice.
Convened by Argentina’s Ambassador to the U.S., Jorge Argüello, Deutch participated in a remembrance lunch together with AJC President Michael Tichnor and Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Combat Antisemitism. Also in attendance were ambassadors from Brazil, Chile, and Paraguay, as well as Argentine consul general of New York Santiago Villalba.
“The AMIA bombing was one of the darkest moments in modern Jewish history and serves as a stark reminder of how hate can lead to violence and destruction,” Deutch said. “We come together to not only remember those taken but to warn those responsible to take no comfort. Justice may be delayed, but there will be justice.”
The AMIA bombing on July 18, 1994, killed 85 people and injured more than 300 when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden truck into the six-story building. It was the worst antisemitic attack outside Israel since the Holocaust. Nobody has been arrested but Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have long been suspected in the attack.
Last month, a judge in Argentina called on Interpol to detain four Lebanese citizens to be questioned for their suspected role in the bombing. After a longtime push by AJC, former Argentine President Mauricio Macri designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 2019 on the 25th anniversary of the bombing.
Argentina is the first Latin American country to name a special envoy to combat antisemitism: María Fabiana Loguzzo, Argentina's ambassador to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The U.S. has also labeled Hezbollah a terrorist group and today bipartisan resolutions were introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate that urge the European Union (EU) to follow suit. Currently, the EU has only given that designation to Hezbollah’s “military wing.”
“It is time for Europe to declare the entirety of Hezbollah as a terror organization,” Deutch said. “There is no difference between its political and military operations. They are both singularly devoted to terror and destruction across the globe.”
AJC has long had a close association with AMIA through AJC’s Arthur and Rochelle Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (BILLA), which strengthens the Jewish community’s bonds with Latin America, Spain, and Portugal. AJC leaders, including Jason Isaacson, now AJC Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer, were sent to Argentina shortly after the attack.
“This was the worst attack against Jews that had ever happened in the Americas,” Isaacson recalled. “It was overwhelming. The city was really shaken. The community was shaken. The country was shaken.”
Last week, Deutch and AMIA President Amos Linetzky held a solemn candle lighting ceremony to mark the bombing at a synagogue in Aventura, Fla.
“We will continue to stand in solidarity with AMIA and the people of Argentina,” said BILLA Director Dina Siegel Vann. “The Argentine Jewish community has shown remarkable resilience and renewal, even though the scars from the bombing remain and the healing continues 29 years later.”
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC's mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world.