BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Some 300 people attended a protest rally against Argentine-Iranian cooperation in investigating the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center.
Among the protestors on Feb. 14 in the Argentine capital were relatives of the survivors of the bombing of the AMIA center. Israeli and Argentinean justice authorities blame Iran for the attack.
“We ask Argentine society’s forgiveness for wasting a great privilege that democracy gave us,” Sergio Bergman, a lawmaker and Reform rabbi, said in a speech at the rally. “We had the first Jewish foreign minister and that is why we say sorry.”
Argentina’s first Jewish foreign minister, Héctor Timerman, on Jan. 27 signed a memorandum with his Iranian counterpart to set up a joint “truth commission,” prompting condemnations from members and leaders of Jewish communities in Latin America and beyond.
Philosopher, poet and writer Santiago Kovadloff mocked the government for the international criticism the pact has drawn. “But our government is not alone,” he said. “Our government is with Iran.”
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has defended the pact as a way to break a long impasse and Timerman described it as a way to promote justice.
Iran has until now resisted appeals by Argentina and Interpol to make available for interrogation top Iranian officials believed to have organized the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds of others.
The Argentine Upper House is scheduled to vote on whether to ratify the memorandum for Feb. 21 followed by the Lower House six days later. The party of President Kirchner enjoys a majority in both chambers and it is likely to pass.
Alberto Nisman, a lawyer representing AMIA, has meanwhile filed a criminal complaint with federal authorities on February 14 over a threat he received recently via email warning him to abandon his investigations of the bombings within 24 hours, or risk the wellbeing of his daughters.