February 5, 2015


Is Hector Timerman a Traitor to Argentina's Jews? (Jonathan Gilbert,  February 05, 2015, The Tablet)

 The year was 1977. The Argentinian military dictatorship's "dirty war" against leftist militants and thinkers was at its height. Military officers blindfolded Jacobo Timerman, a Jewish newspaper editor, at his home in Buenos Aires and drove him off to a torture center. His son, Hector Timerman, would soon seek exile in the United States, where he became a prominent human rights activist.

But today, Hector Timerman is Argentina's foreign minister and at the center of a scandal in which he is being accused of something that seems like the opposite of what he has stood for: an alleged cover-up of a terrorist attack that is roiling Argentina's Jewish community. [...]

Timerman, who denies any cover-up, defends his actions unabashedly and has declared that his duty as foreign minister is first and foremost to Argentina. [...]

Since Nisman's death, Timerman, 61, has opened up to the foreign news media to defend himself. He pointed to an email he received from Interpol's former secretary general, which attested that he had never requested the lifting of arrest warrants for the Iranians. He claimed that only the Argentine judge overseeing the case could request the lifting of the warrants in any case. Timerman also claimed that Iran could not provide Argentina with the refined oil it required and that private agro-business companies -- not the Argentine government -- controlled exports of the grains, like wheat and soybeans, that were to be traded to Iran for oil.

"I can tell you we have done everything possible, the president and myself, to help the judge to bring justice to the victims of the attack on the Jewish center," he told National Public Radio in a recent interview. [...]

[S]ome scholars and members of the Jewish community have defended Timerman. AMIA and other Jewish organizations, they say, have never genuinely sought justice for the victims of the bomb attack during an investigation marred by setbacks, and a corruption scandal involving a former president and a prominent Jewish leader. They have also cast suspicion on Nisman's focus on Iran, claiming that other lines of investigation were discouraged by foreign influences.

"I have absolutely no doubt about the good intentions of Hector Timerman," said Sergio Burstein, 64, referring to Timerman's moves to advance the investigation through the agreement with Iran. Burstein's ex-wife died in the bomb attack. "We want the real truth," Burstein said. "The case is more alive than ever."

Horacio Verbitsky, another prominent Argentine Jew and renowned investigative journalist, has cast strong doubts on the allegations of a secret deal advanced by Nisman. Verbitsky, who is now president of the country's leading human rights group, the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, pointed out to The New Yorker's Jonathan Blitzer that only two pages of Nisman's nearly 300-page report concern the legal basis of the criminal charges against the president.


Posted by at February 5, 2015 8:25 PM

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