When Argentinean Foreign Minister Hector Timerman summoned Israel’s ambassador to Buenos Aires to his office this week, Dorit Shavit she knew she was in for a scolding, according to a report in Haaretz.
But the Israeli diplomat reportedly had an ace argument up her sleeve.
Citing "sources" in the foreign ministry, the Israeli daily described a rancorous Timerman rebuking Israel for daring to criticize his government’s decision to form a "truth commission" with Iran over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that left 84 dead and hundreds wounded.
Israel officially complained that Argentina was cooperating in an Iranian attempt to cover up its complicity in the attack. After all, Interpol has issued arrest warrants for Iranian officials in connection to the bombing at Argentina’s behest.
Timerman reportedly told Shavit her country’s response violated Argentine sovereignty, represented a double standard in light of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, and contributed to anti-Semitism.
Shavit is described as calmly waiting her turn to speak before dispassionately delivering her prepared remark.
"The Jewish State sees itself as partially responsible for the wellbeing of Jews and monitors anti-Semitism around the world," she is quoted as telling the diplomat. "That’s why it helped free Jews in the Soviet Union and Ethiopia and, during some periods, helped Jews in Argentina.
She added: "I think you know what I’m talking about."
He did, of course.
Timerman’s father, the late Jewish journalist Jacobo Timerman, was a political prisoner when the junta was in power in Argentina. For two years he languished behind bars where he was was repeatedly tortured until Israel directly intervened and secured his release in 1979. The Timermans were subsequently allowed to leave the country, finding asylum in Israel.
The story does not end there. Timerman the elder had a falling out with the Israeli government over the Lebanon War in 1982. His son, Daniel, Hector’s brother, became a well-known conscientious objector refusing to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. Disillusioned with the Jewish state, Jacobo moved to Spain, then the United States, and eventually back to Argentina once his political foes were out of power. He died in Buenos Aires in 1999 and did not see his son Hector become Argentina’s ambassador to Washington in 2007, or foreign minister in 2010.
Daniel Timerman, the former IDF objector and brother of Argentina’s foreign minister, still lives in Israel, Israeli media reported on Wednesday.
Back in Buenos Aires, Shavit reportedly said the meeting ended on a conicllatory note. Both sides agreed to disagree and work harder to improve relations. Whether their heated exchange and the family’s history has any effect on the currently tense ties between Buenos Aires and Jerusalem, only time will tell.