Sunday, February 22, 2015

At Boston University, Luis Moreno Ocampo draws a crowd to talk about Argentina, Iran and terror

Luis Moreno Ocampo, former International Criminal Court prosecutor spoke to a crowd at Boston University on February 22 about the 1992 attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina, the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Cultureal Center in Buenos Aires and the death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Image copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2015.

After weeks of endless snow storms the sun finally appeared again in Boston today, and with it came a crowd of people gathered at Boston University to remember and discuss three tragic events in Argentina: the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina in 1992, the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 and most recently the death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman. These three incidents are bound together not only in Argentine history but in the collective memory of Jewish Communities around the world as tragic examples of terrorism and violence directed at Jews. The program, which was sponsored by a wide range of organizations, including Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Boston offices of the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, El Planeta Boston, the ElieWiesel Center for Judaic at Boston University and the Argentine Jewish Relief Committee, drew leaders and community members representing many groups from the local Jewish and Latino communities.

Over the course of the afternoon attendees heard both an overview of the events as well as highly personal reflections from people whose lives were directly impacted by these assaults. The first speaker of the afternoon described the attack on the Jewish center, clearly outlining the crucial role that Iran and Hezbollah played in facilitating and carrying out these murders, as well as the role that corruption among Argentine government officials is alleged to have played in preventing revelations about the true role of Iran in these crimes. One particularly poignant moment in the program came in the form of remarks by Rabbi Claudia Kreiman, who lost her mother in this terrorist incident and addressed attendees in a pre-recorded video.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, a former Argentine prosecutor and the first prosecutor appointed to the International Criminal Court when it was founded in 2004 was the keynote speaker at the program. Ocampo took the stage next and began by noting that the Jewish community remains a target, saying that, "We are living in a world where pogroms are carried out differently."

In his remarks he spoke about the direct circumstances surrounding these violent incidents, touching on the complicated history and relationship between Israel, Hezbollah and Iran. He also reflected on his own personal experiences as prosecutor both in Argentina and the ICC, highlighting the difficulties often encountered in investigating international crimes, including the challenges found in competing national interests. Another key factor in attaining justice lies in fighting corruption at the societal level in Argentina, he said, noting, "Corruption is not just about individuals, it's about a network of people."

Toward the end of his remarks Ocampo specifically addressed the issue of the death of Alberto Nisman, telling the audience, "Even if he committed suicide, it was a consequence of the AMIA case," later adding that there is a compelling need for further investigation to determine the exact circumstances surrounding Nisman's death. Ocampo closed by offering his thoughts on the importance of the tireless pursuit of justice, whether at Nuremberg following World War II or in Buenos Aires in 1994.

As I sat in the room and thought about all of the innocent murdered and maimed by Iran and Hezbollah in Argentina (as well as many other places around the world), I couldn't have agreed more.

Copyright Daniel E. Levenson 2015.

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