JUF remembers AMIA, and 85 lives lost, 25 years later

Event recalls the Buenos Aires bombing, and the justice that still must be served

It has been 25 years since Ibrahim Hussein Berro, a Lebanese citizen and member of Hezbollah, allegedly drove a van packed with explosives into the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The blast leveled the building, killing 85 people and injuring more than 300 others. To this day, not one person has been charged, though evidence implicates Hezbollah carrying it out at the direction of Iran.

Speaking at a memorial program held at JUF on Thursday, Aug. 9, Beatriz Vivas, Consul General of Argentina in Chicago acknowledged that the investigation has been marred by mismanagement and corruption.

"President Macri has pledged to reopen the investigation, and the government of Argentina took the important step of freezing Hezbollah assets in the country," Vivas reported. "I hope that some justice will be achieved."

Bringing names to the victims, Steven Dishler, JUF's VP for International Affairs, shared that the youngest AMIA victim was 5-year-old Sebastian Barreiro, who died holding his mother's hand as they walked in front of the building.

Twenty-one year old Paola Czyewski was a law student. She was visiting AMIA to meet her mother.

"The ideology of hate and bigotry that drives Hezbollah is the same hate behind the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue and the hate that we saw kill Muslims in New Zealand, Christians in Sri Lanka and members of the LGBTQ community in Orlando," Dishler said. "Hatred and bigotry must be named as such and confronted. The alternative is unacceptable."

"Am Echad, One People, was our message 25 years ago when we mobilized to support the Argentine Jewish community after the horrific attack, and that is our message today," said David T. Brown, national campaign chair of Jewish Federations of North America and former JUF board chair. Brown led a national mission to Argentina last week, hearing from the nation's deputy foreign minister and visiting the memorial dedicated to the bombing victims.

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