For the last 22 years Saint Patrick’s Day here has been irreparably overshadowed by the terrorist car-bomb destruction of the Israeli Embassy. Until the 20th anniversary the ceremonies to recall this atrocity were much the same in spirit, with time doing little to erase the pain. But last year the atmosphere was abruptly transformed by the “Truth Commission” memorandum of understanding with Iran to question on their home ground its officials suspected of an even deadlier terrorist horror, the 1994 bomb attack on the AMIA Jewish community centre — not only were these overtures to Tehran rejected by much of the Jewish community but other critics questioned this approach to what was then seen as a rogue state menacing world peace with its nuclear programme and threats to obliterate Israel. For today’s anniversary the wheel seems to have turned almost full circle — even if Iran has since acquired more moderate leadership with more international acceptance, the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration seems largely disenchanted with the scant results from last year’s agreement and tomorrow’s ceremony marking the atrocity will be on a far more harmonious note with Israel.
While admitting her disappointment with Iran’s co-operation in her state-of-the-nation speech at the start of this month, CFK also placed the ball in the court of her critics by challenging them to come up with something better — other than DAIA Jewish associations umbrella proposing the recently fashionable plebiscite, nobody has really picked up the gauntlet. Yet if the Iran side of the investigation seems completely stonewalled for now, there is another line of approach which falls entirely within Argentine jurisdiction — the local connection. The previous investigation here collapsed on technical grounds because of former judge Juan José Galeano’s mistrial rather than because of any less grounds to suspect the defendants (for example, the police inspector’s multi-million inheritance from his pensioned railway worker father) and nor are these previous prosecutions the only line of investigation. While there are theories other than Iran as to the international mastermind behind the 1992 and 1994 terrorist attacks (for example, the so-called “Syrian connection”), there is a case for saying that, like charity, justice begins at home.
If this newspaper opposes forgetting the state terrorism of the 1976-83 military dictatorship under the euphemism of “reconciliation,” how much less can we condone oblivion for a terrorist atrocity less than half as long ago?