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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

February 26, 2003

Shlomo Argov

I was really bothered by the Associated Press's obituary of Shlomo Argov, Israel's former ambassador to Britain. Here are three paragraphs from the obit:
The attack was Israel's stated pretext for invading Lebanon four days later and laying siege to Beirut for three months until the Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat, and his fighters were forced out of the country. The invasion began an 18-year Israeli military presence in southern Lebanon, which ended with Israel's withdrawal in May 2000.
Reuven Merhav, a former colleague, said Mr. Sharon, who was defense minister at the time, had actually planned the Lebanon invasion well before Mr. Argov was shot.
Mr. Merhav, referring to Mr. Sharon's invasion strategy on Israel Radio on Sunday, said: "The war plan was ready. He made no secret of it. He had presented the plan to the Americans some months earlier."
Argov was reduced to being the pretext for war. Other factors such as regular shelling by the PLO of Northern Israel are ignored. I suppose that by mentioning Sharon's "invasion strategy" the report is implicitly acknowledging the ongoing threat to Israel. Arutz-7 gave a more complete view of the time.
The next day Israeli jets bombed PLO ammunition depots and training bases. This triggered a massive PLO bombardment against Israel's northern settlements, causing extensive damage and loss of life.
Even this fails to acknowledge that the PLO was attacking Israel prior to the attack on Argov. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives the most complete account of Argov's life.
Shlomo Argov received a B.A. in political science from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (1952) and an M.A. in international relations from the London School of Economics (1955). After several years in the Prime Minister's Office under David Ben-Gurion, he joined the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1959. His first postings were to the Israeli embassies in Ghana and Nigeria. He later served in New York and Washington, as well as Deputy Director-General for Information of the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, before being appointed Ambassador to Mexico (1971-1974) and the Netherlands (1977-1979).
In September 1979 he assumed his final post as Ambassador to Britain. During his three years in Britain, Argov forcefully and articulately put forward the Israeli case to a generally hostile Foreign Office and media. He was held in high esteem by Anglo-Jewry and traveled often to visit outlying Jewish communities.
On the night of June 3, 1982, Ambassador Argov was shot and critically wounded by Palestinian terrorists from the Abu Nidal group of the PLO outside London's Dorchester Hotel, where he was one of 80 diplomats attending a private dinner. He was hospitalized in Jerusalem for 21 years and remained permanently incapacitated until his death on February 23, 2003 at the age of 73.

Cross-posted on IsraPundit and David's Israel Blog