Of the foreign mayors from around the globe who a letter condemning the kidnapping of yeshiva students Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Fraenkel, one mayor could identify with the anguish of the victims and their families.
Mauricio Macri, the mayor of Buenos Aires and the son of one of Argentina’s wealthiest businessmen, was kidnapped in 1991 and held in captivity for 14 days until his father paid a multi-million dollar ransom.
At a breakfast meeting on Thursday hosted by the World Jewish Congress and the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, Macri was asked whether he felt at any time during his ordeal that he might not survive.
He was also asked what message of hope and encouragement he could give to the families of the three boys.
“Every day, every hour you think that you won’t survive” he said. “It’s a perverse situation.
Who suffers more – the victim or the family?” Macri disclosed that he had experienced both sides of the story, since in April, 2003, his 19-year-old sister Florencia had been abducted, and then he was in the position of worrying out her.
Both Macri and his sister were released after their father paid out millions of dollars in ransom.
Macri viewed the situation on either side as “something awful” and said that all he could suggest to the anxious families of the yeshiva boys was to pray.
Now in his second term as mayor, Macri had an opportunity in 2011 to run for president of Argentina, but opted to complete the commitments that he had made as mayor the first time around. However he will be running for president next year, and if successful will immediately begin improving relations with Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “clearly not very happy” about the current circumstances of Israel’s relations with Argentina, especially in view of the Memorandum of Understanding that Argentina has signed with Iran, said Macri.
Macri told him – as well as the people gathered around the breakfast table– that he was committed to continue fighting against terrorism and that his party had voted against signing the memorandum. If elected, he said, he will do everything possible to have it rescinded.
The issue is particularly sensitive to Israel, not only because of the Iranian nuclear program, but also because next month will mark the 20th anniversary of the Amia bombing, which came only two years after the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. In both cases there were heavy casualties, and although it is known that Iran was behind the bombings, no-one has yet been charged and brought to justice.
Asked whether he would do anything to remedy such a situation if he wins the election next year, Macri said that it would be difficult after such a long time.
His party is committed to finding the truth behind the bombings, he said, but after 20 years it will not be easy to bring the people involved to justice.
“We never had organizations like Mossad and the CIA to run investigations,” he said.
Macri said that the attacks were not just against Israel and against Jews, but against Argentina.
He admitted that his country is in “a painful situation without a real possibility of finding the truth.”