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.
On 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 arriving in Israel, and following 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. It's 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. 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 relationship 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 (AMIA), taking the lives of 85 people. The images of that attack are permanently seared into the psyches of Argentina’s Jews as well as 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 in order 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 in order 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 had already been an unfortunate fact of life within Israel.
In recent years, Palestinian terrorists began employing vehicles as deadly weapons, using them to mow over soldiers and civilians alike at bus stops and in city centers. Since that time, we have seen the large-scale devastation they can cause as Islamic terrorists have used trucks, vans, buses and cars to murder people in the streets of Europe, including in France, Britain, Germany and, in recent days, in Spain. In fact, the same exact tactic was used to deadly effect in Charlottesville to kill a protestor and injure 19 others.
Thankfully for Israel, it has always managed to find a way to not just survive the threats to its daily existence, but to thrive despite the challenges. Part of the Israeli recipe for success has been building itself into a remarkable hub of innovation that produces research and technology that has dramatically altered the world for the better.
Not only does Israel already possess products that can improve the lives of nations across the globe, but it is also a hotbed of research and development that will produce the next life-changing technological leaps. That is precisely why some of the most innovative companies in the world, from Google, to Microsoft, to Intel and scores of others, have invested billions in Israel and set up offices and research labs there.
Argentina and other countries are signaling that they are increasingly aware that embracing Israel and cultivating commercial ties is not just the right thing to do, but it’s smart business as well.