Editor’s note: Since this story was published, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has revised the number of Hamas victims down from 1400 to around 1200.
“We are not the same.”
That was the message of Amos Linetzky, president of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA, by its Spanish acronym), on the one-month anniversary of the Hamas massacre in southern Israel that left more than 1400 dead.
On Tuesday, the Jewish community center in the Abasto neighborhood of Buenos Aires unveiled the installation, And these are their names — a mural commemorating the victims of the offensive.
The work will form part of the sixth annual Jerusalem Biennial of Contemporary Art, which was postponed until 2024 in the wake of the October 7 attacks.
Linetzky was joined by AMIA Director of Art and Production Elio Kapszuk and Adam Levene from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Also present was Anita Weinstein, one of the survivors of the 1994 AMIA bombing. The blast, which killed 85 people, remains the deadliest act of terror in Argentina’s history.
“We cannot be the same after having witnessed how hatred can lead to atrocities that are unimaginable and impossible to describe,” Levene said in front of a wall of names in graffiti. “We cannot be the same when we learn that a nine-month-old baby was kidnapped, when men and women were decapitated.”
“We cannot be the same when we hear the story of Noya Dan, a 12-year-old Israeli girl with autism who loved Harry Potter and was found dead with her 80-year-old grandmother.”
During his address, Linetzky took aim at human rights organizations and the media, which he accused of hypocrisy and promulgating anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Zionism, respectively.
“Let’s not be confused,” he continued. “Terrorist groups are not only enemies of the Jewish people or the State of Israel. They are staunch enemies of all countries and peoples who love democracy, respect for human rights, freedom of expression, minority rights, and religious freedoms. They are enemies of life. They are enemies of peace.”
The AMIA president went on to cite the Italian intellectual and Holocaust survivor, Primo Levi, who explored how German society enabled mass murder, among other subjects.
“In Hitler’s Germany, a singular form of civility had spread,” he said, quoting Levi. “He who knew did not speak; he who did not know did not ask; he who asked did not get an answer. In this way, the typical German citizen conquered and defended his ignorance, which seemed sufficient justification for his adherence to Nazism.”
Both Lenitzky and Levene called for the immediate release of more than 200 hostages captured by Hamas. Of that group, 21 hold Argentine citizenship.
Tuesday’s memorial was held during an unprecedented bombing campaign by Israel in Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Although the exact figures remain in dispute, at least 10,000 Palestinians have been killed, nearly half of whom are children.
This week, Gaza’s Ministry of Health, which is technically under the control of Hamas, claimed that Israeli warplanes struck a complex in Gaza City that contained a pediatric cancer unit. According to Reuters, eight people were killed in the blast. Prior to that, Israel reportedly bombed a caravan of ambulances outside of the Al-Shifa hospital, also in Gaza City. That strike killed 15 and injured 60, per the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS).
Asked if the Israeli response to Hamas has been justified and proportionate, Levene answered “completely.”
“There’s lots of evidence that there are tunnels, communication centers, and missiles beneath these civilian centers,” he told the Herald. “It’s something terrible, and it presents a dilemma. But Hamas made this decision, and we’re doing everything we can.”
“We’re a democratic country,” Levene said. “We will always follow international [law], and that’s what differentiates them from us.”
And these are their names will be on display at AMIA until November 14.