This past week, anti-Israel bias prevailed again on the global stage. As Argentina cancelled a sold-out game in Jerusalem due to Palestinian protests, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement claimed another victory in the Israeli-Argentinian relationship.
As an Argentinian, I still remember the shock of the Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires. On March 17, 1992, I was in Buenos Aires when I felt the earth shake. As the streets turned to mayhem, I soon discovered that the Israeli Embassy, only 15 blocks away, was destroyed in a suicide bombing attack killing 29 civilians and injuring more than 250 others.
On July 18, 1994, my grandfather picked up his pension check at the AMIA Jewish Community Center and headed back home. Three minutes later, Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah carried out a terrorist attack in which a suicide-bomber drove an explosives-filled Renault Traffic van into the building. Narrowly missing the attack, my grandfather was shaken and marked forever. Killing 87 people and injuring more than 100 others, it was Argentina’s deadliest bombing of all time.
Alberto Nisman, a heroic prosecutor working to clarify these two vicious attacks, was murdered in 2015 on the night before his testimony to Congress. Nisman was allegedly killed by a team of Iranian agents and Argentinean government accomplices to prevent him from testifying. He was planning to expose former President Cristina Kirchner and cabinet members’ suspected plot to exonerate Iran’s role in the attack. Her cabinet also wanted to lift Interpol arrest warrants against key Iranian figures. Allegedly, the Argentinian government was set to receive lavish oil contracts in exchange for recusing Iran from the attacks.
Iran’s terrorism has left a permanent scar on Argentina. These attacks have already claimed hundreds of lives and injured even more innocent victims of all races and creeds. In addition, Iran continues to serve as the leading state sponsor of terrorism. The Iranians continue to prop up its terrorist proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as provides arms, personnel and funding to the brutal Assad regime in Syria.
This week, Palestinian supporters demonstrated in front of the Barcelona hotel where the Argentinean soccer team was lodged. Protestors chanted and displayed blood-stained Argentinean soccer jerseys, urging Lionel Messi and the rest of the team to support the Palestinian’s “fight for freedom.” This was a great opportunity given to Argentina to take a public global stance against terrorist intimidation.
Hillel said: “Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place”. I am not going to argue the decision of Messi and other key players if they received direct threats to their lives or safety, but the threat scenario would not surprise me if it were true. Jibril Rajoub, Head of the Palestinian Soccer Federation is a former Deputy of Yasser Arafat for decades, both very well versed in the tactics of terrorism, intimidation, and bloody murder.
Unfortunately, the Argentinean Soccer Federation (AFA) announced the immediate and final cancellation of the highly anticipated game. AFA President Claudio Tapia went to argue that the “gesture to cancel” would advance understanding between the Israelis and Palestinians. Adding salt to the wound, Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hamas congratulated the Argentinean team on Twitter for its “courage” to cancel the game with Israel. Unlike its neighbors, Israel stands alone as a beacon of freedom and justice in a destabilizing and dangerous Middle East.
This week’s events mark yet another slap in the face for justice in Argentina. Whether on Iran, Nisman, or a friendly soccer match, Argentina chose, again, to turn the other cheek and accept defeat. While the BDS movement won this friendly game, I hope that eventually Argentina will stand with Israel on the next match against terrorist intimidation.
Emiliano Calemzuk was a Fox executive for 15 years and is currently Founder and CEO of Raze, a media company focused on the Hispanic space.