September 28, 2023
The following piece, by AJC CEO Ted Deutch and Amos Linetsky, President of AMIA, appeared in the Miami Herald.
This month, leaders from across the world gathered in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, coming together to strengthen diplomatic ties, address common goals, differences and, ultimately, work toward shared values.
And yet, they also gave the stage to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi without any plan for holding him, his country and its terror proxy — Hezbollah — accountable for their decades of global terrorism. We offered that stage to the Iranian leader just weeks before the U.N. Security Council ban on Iran’s ballistic missiles is set to expire in the face of neglect and inaction by the United Nations and the world.
Just a few days ahead of the Jewish New Year, Israel’s Mossad Director David Barnea shared that the agency and its international partners have thwarted 27 planned Iranian attacks on Jews and Israelis abroad this year alone. According to the U.S. State Department, the Iranian regime has sanctioned and carried out assassinations, terror plots and attacks in 40 countries since coming to power in 1979.
This includes the July 18, 1994, bombing of the Argentine Mutual Israel Association (AMIA), which killed 85 people and injured 300 others when a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden truck into the six-story building at 633 Pasteur St. in Buenos Aires. It was the deadliest antisemitic attack outside Israel since the Holocaust. Three decades later, amid a worldwide surge in antisemitism, those responsible for this wanton act of terror continue to walk free.
The official Argentine investigation, led by the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman, concluded in 2007 that Iran masterminded the attack, which was carried out by Hezbollah. Interpol issued “red notices” for five suspects, putting the responsibility on member states to arrest the suspected terrorists in their countries when they can.
Yet, some of those named by Interpol have been allowed to serve as Iranian ministers and freely travel the globe without any consequence. In June, as part of proceedings to address the local connection to the 1994 attack, Argentine Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas issued an international arrest warrant for four Lebanese citizens currently in Paraguay under suspicion of having “cooperated and/or facilitated” the organizers in the months before the bombing.
And yet, the only people who have been brought to justice are the individual who provided the van used in the attack and some low-level security officials who conspired to cover it up. How can we, as a global community, claim to stand against terror and for justice if we allow this inaction? Justice delayed is justice denied.
The attack against AMIA struck not only a building, but the heart and soul of Argentina and its Jewish community — the sixth largest in the world and the largest in Latin America. This was a blatant attack on our shared values of peace, inclusion and coexistence. In defending these values, we must come together as a global community to bring these murderers and their benefactors to justice.
The United States, since 1997, has recognized Hezbollah as a terror organization. Four years ago, Argentina rightly and courageously conferred this designation as well. The designation was reinforced in 2020, and investigations into Hezbollah’s operations in the Tri-Border Area, shared by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, are ongoing.
American Jewish Committee met with more than 60 top international officials attending the U.N. General Assembly to discuss issues of mutual concern, the Jewish community and Israel as part of our annual Diplomatic Marathon. As we discussed the importance of recognizing the dangers of antisemitism and all forms of hate, violence and bigotry, we also demanded a commitment to the pursuit of justice.
We must work together to ensure the voices of the AMIA victims and their families are heard and that their memories are not forgotten. As the global advocacy organization of the Jewish people, American Jewish Committee was on the ground just two days after the bombing in 1994, standing with the Jewish community then as we do today.
We are united in our unrelenting fight for justice. We continue to demand that the global community stop ignoring Interpol’s red notices and arrest those responsible for cruelly cutting short 85 lives and to do what’s necessary to prevent future attacks.
But we cannot do this alone.
Global leaders must go beyond pledging to stand defiant in the face of hatred and darkness. We must demand real accountability for those who would do us harm and who support and harbor terrorists. We cannot brush aside Iran’s decades old history of terrorism that continues to this day. We must not continue to allow the regime and its Hezbollah proxies to pursue their campaign of violence and terror without consequence.
Meetings of the U.N. General Assembly should be neither cocktail parties nor theoretical intellectual debates. The international community needs to act. Extend the ban on ballistic missiles as Iran aids Russia in its illegal war. Stand with protesters fighting for human rights. Prevent Iranian nukes. And arrest the suspects in the AMIA bombing.