BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, defended himself Monday against accusations that he had let down fellow Jews by signing an agreement with Iran to probe the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in the Argentine capital.
“I did not betray my Judaism in the pact with Iran because we are trying to solve the AMIA bombing case,” Timerman said Monday during an interview with La Red radio. “The move was inspired by the deep humanistic tradition of Judaism and thinking always about the victims and the relatives of the victims.”
Interviewer Luis Novaresio asked Timerman how he could sign the deal with Iran, a country whose president has denied the Holocaust. The deal established a “truth commission” that allows independent judges to interview suspects in the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994.
“I did not meet with the Iranians to discuss the Holocaust; I was with them to solve the AMIA case,” Timerman responded. “If I will have the opportunity to talk with them about the Holocaust, they will know what my opinion is.”
Timerman defended the dialogue with Iran and criticized the Israeli position on the issue.
“There are some sectors in Israel that are very close to the government; they do not want any dialogue. They want a military solution to the Iranian problem, and Argentina doesn’t believe in that,” he said.
Timerman, whose father, journalist Jacobo Timerman, received sanctuary in Tel Aviv during the early 1980s after being exiled by Argentina’s military rulers, said in a separate radio interview this week that he “had no debt” to Israel for harboring his father.
“My father was imprisoned, disappeared [in Argentina], and I have to go and thank them [Israel]? I mean, I have to change Argentine foreign policy and shit on the AMIA because supposedly I have a debt to Israel? I have no debt. When a person being pursued is saved, there are no debts,” the foreign minister told Argentina’s Radio Continental on Monday.
The Argentinian Upper House is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to ratify the memorandum of understanding with Iran, followed by the Lower House six days later. Timerman will visit the Lower House on February 26, a day before the final vote to defend the agreement, which was signed last month.
A demonstration against the pact is scheduled for Friday in front of the Argentinian embassy in Herzliya Pituah, Israel. The protest was organized by the Facebook group Kehila Latina en Israel.
On February 15, 300 people attended a protest rally in Buenos Aires against Argentina’s cooperation with Iran in investigating the AMIA bombing, which killed 95 and injured hundreds. No one has been tried in the case.
“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 have the first Jewish foreign minister, and that is why we say sorry.”