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Argentina's national team at Copa América
Photo: Reuters

Argentina footballers for Jewish community

South American country's national soccer team, led by Lionel Messi, calls on government to commemorate victims of 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, punish Iranian masterminds

Seventeen years after the deadly terror attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, those responsible for the murder of 85 people are still free.

 

The leaders of Argentina's Jewish community are not the only ones who find this situation intolerable. They have recently been joined by the national soccer team, led by FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

 

These days, Argentina is hosting the Copa América soccer championship. Between the games, the national team members found the time to take part in a moving gesture.

 

Messi, Carlos Tévez, Javier Mascherano and their friends posed for a photo at the team's training camp with a purple sign reading: "This is an attack against forgetting. The national team has not forgotten that 17 years ago, 85 people were killed in an attack on AMIA. You mustn't forget either."

 

The Argentinean footballers were recruited to help a campaign concocted by the Latin American Jewish Congress (LACJ) together with international advertising company Ogilvy.

 

The campaign, titled "Attack against Forgetting", is aimed at keeping the memory of the disaster that took place at the Jewish community building alive in the minds of Argentineans, and commemorating the victims.


Memorial for AMIA attack's victims, 2010 (Photo: Reuters)

 

Different memorials will be held in Argentina in the coming days, ahead of the bombing's anniversary on July 18: Special television and radio programs, events organized on social networks on the Internet, and spontaneous protests.

 

But beyond commemoration, the campaign has an additional goal: To pressure Argentina's president, Cristina Kirchner, to do what her predecessors failed to do – and punish those responsible for the attack.

 

'This attack hurt all Argentine people'

On July 18, 1994, at 9:53 am, a Lebanese suicide bomber detonated a car bomb containing 400 kilograms of explosives at the front of the Jewish community building. The investigation report, released in 2002, held the leaders of Iran and Hezbollah accountable for the AMIA bombing and for a 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy building in Buenos Aires.

 

Former President Carlos Menem was accused of receiving $10 million from Iran in exchange for hindering the investigation into the attack for many years.

 

At the request of Argentina's public prosecutor, the Interpol issued international arrest warrants against Hezbollah commander Imad Mugniyah (who was assassinated in 2008) and against five senior Iranian officials, including the intelligence minister and Revolutionary Guards commander.

 

"The attack's masterminds were not brought to justice, but Iran is the only one to blame, because its government refuses to cooperate with Argentina's justice system," said LACJ Executive Director Claudio Epelman.

 

Guillermo Borger, president of Argentina's Jewish community, told Yedioth Ahronoth that the soccer team's contribution to the campaign was huge.

 

"We were surprised by the fact that the team agreed to take part in this campaign so fast. This attack hurt all Argentine people and not just the Jews. Following this photo we have been receiving appeals from all around the world. Argentina probed the matter but did not do enough to bring those responsible to justice."

 

Itamar Eichner contributed to this report

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 07.14.11, 14:24
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