Terrorism Targeting Jews

July 28, 1994

Prudent governments will take urgent preventive measures against terrorism wherever there are convenient Jewish targets.

What appears to be a worldwide bombing campaign, protesting the increase in recognition of Israel by Arab governments, is in practical consequences classical anti-Semitic violence. The targeting has nothing to do with Arab regimes whose policies offend the bombers. And it has less to do with Israel than with Jews.

The outbreak may be coincidence, or something more. Four acts of terror -- in Argentina, Panama and Britain -- coincided with the rapprochement of Israel and Jordan. The worst was the destruction of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires by a car bomb, killing 96 people, wounding 231 and destroying an archive relating to Nazi activities in Argentina.

The bombing resembled the destruction of Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Jewish community institutions there are harassed by anti-Semitic vandalism. Neo-Nazi infiltration of Argentina's military intelligence services has been reported. Government investigation of the newest bombing has centered on Iranian emigres. The prospect of an alliance between indigenous neo-Nazis and Iran-based terrorism is alarming to Latin America's largest Jewish community.

On the same day, a bomb aboard a commuter plane in Panama killed 21 people, most of them Jewish passengers from the city of Colon. The possibility exists of an unrelated assassination. But a terrorist front in Lebanon claimed credit for both Argentine and Panamanian atrocities.

Similar bombs in parked cars in London, Monday and Tuesday, injured people and damaged Israel's embassy, on a secluded avenue near Kensington Palace, and the suburban North Finchley office of a Jewish charity. London has much experience of other people's terrorisms. Scotland Yard has put armed police and emergency parking bans near more than 100 sites identified as Jewish.

These acts of terror -- which do not dent the relations that Israel is forging with the PLO and Jordan -- are testimony that the peace process is succeeding. Those who hate the process most respond with violence, however irrelevant mass murder in Panama may be to trade across the Jordan River.

These acts also resemble the Feb. 26, 1993, car-bombing of the World Trade Center in New York by extremists claiming Muslim motivation. Until terrorists are caught, as the New York bombers were, they are capable of harm. More of them are out there. If someone pretends to be striking blows against Israel in Buenos Aires, Colon and North Finchley, nowhere is immune. Not even Washington, not even Baltimore.

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