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Op-Ed

An Unhealthy Nexus: Iran and Argentina

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director of the Anti-Defamation League

This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post on March 1, 2013

This week the Congress of Argentina is debating the approval of an agreement signed by Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi, which aims to create a "Truth Commission" to investigate the 1994 terrorist bombing attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.

By voting to approve the agreement majorities in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine Congress have joined with President Kirchner in failing to act in the interest of the Argentine people and all those affected by this heinous terrorist attack; the deadliest terror attack in the Americas prior to 9/11. Argentina now seems set on a path of colluding with those who stand accused as the perpetrators to replace the Argentine criminal justice process with a vague arrangement that will, at best, further delay justice and, at worst, result in a gross miscarriage of justice.

How did we get to this point in which the Argentine government is party to a sham agreement with the Iranian regime? How did Argentina agree to allow Iran to injure the victims and their families again -- this time by disrespecting the memory of those citizens of Argentina who lost their lives and were injured?

According to Argentinean and Iranian news reports, it seems the conversations began about two years ago. Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had been on record several times condemning such allegations. His declarations now prove to be untrustworthy because reality proves different.

It is hard to believe that Argentina will now play into the hands of the Iranians and collaborate with the world's most notorious state sponsor of terrorism. This agreement only serves the interests of the Iranian perpetrators in their nearly 20-year effort to evade the consequences of their culpability in the attack and bypass the Argentine justice system.

What troubles me more is that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in her interest to defend this agreement, goes to the point of intimidating the Jewish community through social media and challenges its leaders. Moreover, she implicitly exonerates the Iranian regime from any responsibility in case of a future terror attack.

How can President Kirchner be so blind about who she is talking about?

Iranian President Ahmadinejad's repeated anti-Semitic rants, outright Holocaust denial and statements calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map" are a venomous expression of the contempt that the Iranian president has for the Jewish people.

The extremism of the Iranian government is well understood by its citizens, its neighbors and the international community and goes far beyond rhetoric. We need to remind Argentina's government that in the aftermath of its 2009 elections, Iran showed its true colors. A regime that so blatantly denies the voice of its people by rigging an election and violently suppressing public outrage cannot be trusted on the international scene.

At a time when the international community is sanctioning Iran over its nuclear aspirations, countries like Argentina, who have been direct targets of Iranian terror, should be at the forefront of isolating rather than engaging in a sham negotiation with this rogue regime.

For more than 18 years, the international community supported the Argentine government's efforts to investigate the AMIA bombing. We cannot support President Kirchner's intentions to turn away from pursuing justice for the victims.

In the interest of the 85 innocent Argentinians killed, the hundreds more who were injured, Jews and non-Jews alike, and their families, justice needs to be served.  However, it will not be through this agreement as Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and President Fernandez de Kirchner want us to believe.