Why we all must be Nisman

We all must be Nisman because the AMIA crime must not remain unpunished, just as Alberto Nisman’s death must not go unpunished. We must get to the bottom of this affair, no matter who falls.

2015-02-18 by Carlos Alberto Montaner

In memory of Jaime Einstein, who died recently in Israel

First of all, my thanks to Rabbi and friend Mario Rojzman for the honor of allowing me to be here today, February 18, on a very special day, honoring the memory of Alberto Nisman, who lost his life defending the cause of justice, the cause of decent Argentines and, ultimately, the cause of all people who love freedom.

I dedicate this brief address to a good friend, Jaime Einstein, a Cuban-American-Israeli lawyer and writer.

After a career full of professional successes, Jaime moved to Israel to spend there his later years. He was full of plans and dreams. He was an ardent Zionist and death came upon him in Safed, Galilee, at age 67.

At least he died in his promised land. In these times of prolonged and uncertain exile, to die in the land that one loves is a privilege. Jaime enjoyed it.

I must make clear that I am not here as an analyst for CNN en Español, a columnist for the Spanish daily ABC or The Miami Herald or the other newspapers and Internet portals that habitually reprint my commentaries -- media outlets that are justly mindful of the objectivity and impartiality they owe to their public.

None of these outlets has the slightest responsibility for the contents of my words, although I am sure, because I know them, that I coincide with many of the professionals who work in them. They love freedom too much for it to be otherwise.

Let me begin.

The motto that brings us together is We all are Nisman.

Through one of those coincidences that life has in store, today, when people in several cities worldwide march while saying We all are Nisman, today marks one year since the arbitrary arrest of Leopoldo López in Caracas, another hero of freedom who is unceasingly mistreated and tortured in Nicolás Maduro’s dungeons.

Although the theme that binds us is We all are Nisman, we could very well say We all are Leopoldo López, so that this young Venezuelan may know that we’re with him, that we do not forget him or forget his example.

In any case, the title of my address is slightly different: Why we all must be Nisman.

We all must be Nisman because this just man, dead at 51, who leaves behind two young daughters whom he loved intensely, in the midst of a generously productive existence devoted much of his life to investigate the criminal attack against the Buenos Aires offices of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association, known by its Spanish acronym: AMIA.

That terrorist act, committed on July 18, 1994, with a car bomb similar to those that explode frequently in the Middle East, took 85 lives, left hundreds of people wounded, destroyed numerous buildings, and caused other material damages.

It seems a proven fact that behind that monstrous deed is the hand of Iran , through the terrorist organization Hezbollah. Alberto Nisman accused six people of masterminding the attack: five Iranians and one Lebanese.

The INTERPOL found justified cause for arrest warrants and issued them, although they have not yet been served. The Iranians were all ministers or high-ranking government officials in Teheran. It was an indescribable crime of state.

Nevertheless, it is very likely that the shock wave of that explosion, set off with no intention other than to kill Jews, has reached us today, more than two decades later, and has taken the life of Alberto Nisman.

That bomb continues to kill.

We all must be Nisman because the AMIA crime must not remain unpunished, just as Alberto Nisman’s death must not go unpunished. We must get to the bottom of this affair, no matter who falls.

We all must be Nisman because the cause of the AMIA victims, like the cause of this brave and determined prosecutor, must be the cause of every honorable person who rejects anti-Semitism and any aggression against any ethnic group, wherever it may occur.

All crimes are odious, but the most odious of all is the one motivated by generic hatred, that vile crime that is not committed against a specific individual -- which is not justified, either -- but against some people because of the religion they observe, the language they speak, their gender at birth, the race to which they belong, the country of which they are citizens, the color of their skin, or their sexual preference.

The people who set off that bomb had only one contemptible objective: to kill Jews. They didn’t care if the Jews were innocent children, mothers, or defenseless old people born and living thousands of miles from the Middle Eastern dogfight pits. Their targets were guilty of being Jews and that was enough to liquidate them.

Those criminals weren’t even concerned if they killed non-Jews with their terrible explosion.
To them, Gentiles were insignificant collateral damage derived from the primary objective: kill the Jews.

Twenty-one years later, those who may have assassinated Alberto Nisman acted with the same hatred.

He was a prosecutor intent on bringing to justice those who perpetrated the crime and the accomplices who protected them.

Besides, he was a Jew. Killing him, in the assassins’ mind, was only the continuation of an unfinished task in which they engage, over and over, without the slightest show of remorse.

We all must be Nisman because this exemplary prosecutor -- regardless of whether the AMIA victims were Jewish or not -- fought against the government’s lack of subordination to the law, and that is a widespread evil that, unfortunately, is not limited to the Argentines.

If the indictments that Nisman left in draft form were proven true in a fair trial, the government of Mrs. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would be found guilty of covering up the AMIA crime to protect the criminals.

Why would those officials, who swore to uphold the Constitution, do something so absolutely censurable that contradicts the laws of the republic?

There are at least two theories: the theory of the bribe paid by Iran to some unscrupulous Argentines so they would protect the terrorists that Teheran encourages and shelters, and the repugnant “reasons of state.”

In the first instance, it would be corrupt functionaries who obstruct justice in search for personal gain, knowing that hundreds of compatriots will suffer emotionally because the bodies of their loved ones have been sold to their assassins.

Terrorist acts hurt a lot, but so do the lack of solidarity, the hypocrisy, the twisted speech and the absence of justice.

We know that, if justice is not done, mourning never ends and the wounds of the survivors and their relatives never heal.

In the other case, “for reasons of state,” we’d be in the presence of wheeler-dealers who were capable of breaking the laws, the rights of the victims and the spirit of justice to carry out a bloodstained and illegal transaction that didn’t accomplish its intended purpose.

There are no “reasons of state” or economic interests that justify a denial of justice to the victims of the AMIA.

In any case, this trenchant question is inevitable: Would the Argentine government have invoked “reasons of state” if the affected entity had not been Jewish and many of the victims had not been Jewish?

Whatever the motivation, there exists an outrageous violation of the law and another example of the arrogance of a ruling class that ignores that it was elected to serve society, not to utilize it for illegal ends.

We all must be Nisman because we -- whether Argentine or any other nationality -- need to make sure that the governments learn that they must act with propriety and transparency and be accountable for their actions.

The murky opacity of governments, which usually conceals lawless tricks and maneuvers, is one of the reasons why our societies mistrust the republican legality and open their doors to antisystemic political behavior.

If fascism, populism and militarism periodically awaken the sympathies of many Latin Americans, it is because the politicians evade the republican standards and devalue the system of government that has created the world’s 20 most successful nations.

We all must be Nisman because this Argentine prosecutor gave his life to defend the independence of the judiciary, the most important institution in a nation truly ruled by law.

It is true that the members of the judiciary are not elected by the whole of society, and that’s how it should be, because their function is not to please the majority or serve those who rule from Government House but to enforce the laws of the republic and protect the rights of the individuals -- the two most noble and important tasks of any society.

If the Argentines today hope to regenerate their country and be again the leading nation they were in the early 20th Century, it’s because there is a handful of judges and prosecutors who are ready to defend the law and justice even at the cost of their own lives.

José Martí said that there are men who grow even though buried. Men whose lives, after they’re extinguished, fertilize human coexistence so that the best virtues of man can give fruit in others.

Let us hope that Alberto Nisman’s sacrifice may bring forth a better Argentina, freer, democratic and respectful of its laws.

Let us hope that Latin America’s largest, most fertile and educated country may find the destiny it deserves, because one day its citizens, tired of so many defeats, disgusted by so much filth, decided to be Alberto Nisman and stand once again at the planet’s prow.

Let us hope.

Thank you for listening.


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