Antisemitism is not (just) a Jewish problem

By Joshua Yudkin

Last week, we mourned the 28th anniversary of the bombing of the Jewish Community Center, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), in Buenos Aires that took place on July 18, 1994. At that time, 28 years ago, Hezbollah sent a suicide bomber and killed 85 members of the Jewish community, injured over 300 others and executed the deadliest terrorist attack in Argentine history.

Last week, we also mourned the 28th anniversary of the explosion of Flight 901 in Panama on July 19, 1994. At that time, 28 years ago, Hezbollah carried out a terrorist attack against 21 persons, 12 of whom were Jewish, the following day.

Jewish leaders from around the world gathered in Buenos Aires at the Latin American Forum on Combatting Antisemitism to continue Alberto Nisman’s fight for justice last week. Nisman, a Jew himself, was the chief investigator in the 1994 bombing in Argentina, and, in 2015, the night before he was scheduled to report incriminating evidence against some of the highest-ranking officials in Argentina’s government, including the president at the time, he was murdered.

Memory. Justice. At the memorial ceremony for the attack in Buenos Aires, survivors spoke about their friends who perished, and relatives spoke about their children and parents whom they lost too soon. The lady in front of me quietly shared that she survived only by chance — she should have been there, but her son, standing next to her, was sick and she stayed home to take care of her then-toddler.

After reading the name of each person lost in this terrorist attack, the entire community unanimously shouted, “Presente,” affirming that their legacy is alive in our memory. Above the podium, a sign read, “We have memory, we demand justice.”

As a community and a community of communities, our memory is our greatest gift. When I walked into the ceremony, I was given a picture of someone who was lost, with her biography on the back. During the moment of silence, I proudly held high a picture of Berta Kozuk de Losz so that her love for and legacy in our community continues.

In the moment of silence, my mind fixated on something a non-Jewish Chilean senator had said the day before: “Antisemitism is not [just] a Jewish problem and Jews can’t solve it [alone]; it is up to all of us.”

Hatred against our community, like hatred against any individual or group, is horrible. Antisemitism, like any kind of xenophobic or hateful speech or action, is a problem for the society in which it takes place. After all, the attack in Buenos Aires was the deadliest terrorist attack against Argentina. Antisemitism is a symptom of ignorance and intolerance. It is a sign of unheard and/or unanswered pain and suffering.

Now, 28 years later, the love, legacy, and leadership of those lost is ever-present; 28 years later, the restoration, resilience and resolution of our community remains robust. We remember, because we have no other or more powerful alternative.

How do you fight for justice?

Joshua Yudkin currently serves as an executive committee member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and is a co-founder of JUST Conversations. He is an epidemiologist by training who was recently awarded a Fulbright research grant and works at the intersection of community building and public health.

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