A flight by Israel’s national air carrier El Al to Argentina next month would be a historic first, if it were not for Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.
May 20, 1960, nine days after Israeli Mossad agents captured one of the Holocaust’s principal architects in Buenos Aires, Eichmann was disguised in crew clothing, placed on an El Al jetliner and flown to Israel. The day before, an Israeli diplomatic delegation led by Abba Eban had traveled to Argentina on the same airplane, ostensibly to participate in the 150th anniversary of Argentine Independence.
After being transported to Israel, and after a remarkable trial that captured global attention, Eichmann was finally brought to justice, convicted of war crimes and hanged by Israel for crimes against humanity, the only time that the Jewish state has implemented the death penalty.
The remarkable saga involving Israel and a Nazi living on the lam in Argentina is now firmly in the past, as the national Israeli airline and its Argentinian counterpart prepare to initiate flights between the two countries. Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit in September, which would be the first trip to South America by a sitting Israeli prime minister. It is a testament to how far Israeli-Argentinian relations have progressed, and the latest evidence that Israeli diplomatic and commercial ties are accelerating.
While bashing Israel remains a favorite pastime at the United Nations, an increasing number of countries are finally starting to appreciate the huge benefits they can enjoy from building bridges with Jerusalem.
To be clear, there is still a very long way to go before the world’s only Jewish state is afforded the same dignity and respect as other, far less deserving, countries. Even within Argentina, which is poised to deepen its relations with Israel, there is painful history that must never be forgotten.
In March 1992, a suicide bomber attacked the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people. Just two years later, in July 1994, Hezbollah terrorists bombed the Jewish community center building, the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina, taking the lives of 85 people. The images of that attack are permanently seared into the psyches of Argentina’s Jews as well as of the global Jewish community.
Evidence points clearly to the fact that leading state sponsor of terrorism and Hezbollah patron, Iran, was behind the horrific bombing. The attack still serves as a painful reminder of the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorists who employ the most cynical and vengeful tactics to impose their worldview and for whom slaughtering innocent people is within the bounds of acceptable behavior.
Thankfully, the world seems to be waking up to the reality that there is perhaps no nation, besides the United States, with more experience than Israel confronting this serious threat.
Western countries under attack from jihadists are increasingly turning to Israel for help to counter the serious threats to their people. All too often, the streets of Israel have been the testing ground for terrorist tactics that are then exported worldwide. Before people all over the world became accustomed to the regular episodes of suicide bombings targeting civilians, these acts had already been an unfortunate fact of life within Israel.