Shahar Azani
Storyteller, Strategic Consultant & Former Israeli Diplomat . A Jew.

Diplomacy on the front lines

On January 3, 2020, the U.S. killed Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Al Quds Force, and an architect of Iranian global terror campaigns. Much has been discussed about the American operation and its effect, with many fearing Iranian retaliation. However, this ongoing debate seems to be missing at times a crucial fact – Iran’s global campaign of terror is nothing new, nor does it need to be provoked for it to be executed. It is an integral part of Iranian expansionist policies. In Israel’s case (aka “the Small Satan” by the Iranian regime), for instance, its very existence seems to be provocative enough to launch terror offensives against innocents, using its vile proxies in the Middle East and around the world. If you wonder who the “Great Satan” is, you needn’t go far: it is the United States of America, a term popularized by Imam Khomeini as of 1979.

In the Iranian case, words begin, and actions follow. A quick trip down memory lane allows us to remember Iran’s method of operation, which is nothing new and has been around for decades.

On October 23, 1983, 241 US service personnel were killed by a truck bomb at a Marine compound in Beirut, Lebanon. At the same time, a suicide bomber drove a pickup truck full of explosives into a building housing French peacekeeping paratroopers. Approximately 58 French soldiers were killed in that attack. This was the deadliest attack against US Marines since the battle over Iwo Jima in 1945.

In 2003 – A US federal judge ruled that the terrorist group Hezbollah carried out the attack at the direction of the Iranian government. The ruling allowed families of the victims to sue Iran, which they did. In 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the families of the 1983 bombing victims deserve to be compensated.

However, Iran did not limit itself only to the Middle East. There are numerous examples, of which I would like to share 2 uniquely cruel ones.

At exactly 2:45 pm on March 17, 1992, time stopped in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a powerful bomb shattered the Israeli Embassy building, taking the lives of 29 people and injuring hundreds more. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack. In one moment, the Embassy and a nearby church were obliterated. Among the dead were three Israeli diplomats, six local embassy employees, and scores of innocent Argentineans, including elderly residents of a nearby nursing home and schoolchildren on a passing bus.

In 2003, Israeli authorities published their investigation and showed that the highest levels of the Iranian regime were aware of Hezbollah’s intention and indeed authorized Hezbollah to carry out the attack.

And if that was not enough, on the morning of July 18, 1994, only two years after the decimation of the Israeli Embassy, an enormous explosion rocked Buenos Aires and blackened its air – the second murderous attack against Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina. This time the objective was the AMIA Jewish community center, which was wiped off completely. A total of 85 people were murdered, and MORE THAN 330 were injured in the bombing. It is the worst terror attack in Argentina’s history. 

The Argentinian investigative magistrate has concluded that it was Iran who was responsible for the attacks and for dispatching the murderers.

Alberto Nisman, of blessed memory, was the chief investigator of the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires. In January 2015, Nisman was found dead at his home, just one day before he was scheduled to report on his findings, with supposedly incriminating evidence against high-ranking officials of the Argentinian government. That included former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Nisman’s death was initially ruled a suicide but was later determined to have been a homicide. His story is featured now on Netflix, titled “Nisman: The Prosecutor, the President, and the Spy”.

Here is the bottom line: Iran continuously finances, trains, and arms terrorist organizations and using proxies to achieve its goals, including against its people. A horrifying example of such brutal use of force against Iranian citizens was given just a few weeks ago in November 2019, as many came out to the streets and found their death at the hands of this regime. Amnestying International estimates the number at 1500 dead demonstrators, whose only crime was their desire for freedom. They deserve our sadness, and it is their memory, which we should uphold.

In all of the above, there is one more important lesson for us all. Diplomacy is not all bed of roses, nor is it only chocolate and wine. Similar to soldiers’ deployment for the protection of their country, diplomats who serve abroad take upon themselves a severe risk as they out themselves – and their families – on the front lines, which sometimes comes at a dear cost. This reality is true for diplomats in general and especially for Israeli diplomats.

One such example is Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon, a veteran of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, who served Israel for 45 years with distinction and whose stellar career included various senior positions and foreign posts. One of those was in Buenos Aires, where Carmon serves not for six years, as he describes it, but rather three years plus three more. The reason being the 1992 attack against Israel’s Embassy, which claimed the life of his beloved wife and mother of five children, Eliora Carmon of blessed memory. In spite of his tragedy, Amb. Carmon continued to serve Israel, living with the shadows of terror, yet making a difference in our world for the better.

It is a service no less than inspirational, and to that we say, both to diplomats as to soldiers: Thank You For Your Service. 

About the Author
Speaker, Author, JBS Senior Vice President. Formerly Israel's Consul for Media Affairs in NY and diplomat at Israel's Foreign Ministry. Thankful for every day. Hopeful for the future.
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