Tuesday, May 25, 2010

50th anniversary of Eichmann's capture

The Jerusalem Post has an article about an anniversary that was ignored: the 50th anniversary of Israel's dramatic capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina.

One of the interesting sidelights of that event was that Argentina accused Israel of violating international law by capturing the man responsible for the murder of millions.

Argentina's original complaint specified and demanded Israeli reparations for its act, and those included the return of Eichmann to Argentina and the punishment of those responsible.

The Security Council resolution 138 that Argentina drafted was watered down by the US, but it still stated that such actions may "endanger international peace and security" and requested ("demande" in French) that Israel provide unspecified reparations to Argentina.

It is clear that a formal request for extradition would have likely resulted in Eichmann's escape to another country. 

Here is a case where international law is at odds with justice. At the time, most people realized this fact (which is why the amended resolution mentions, twice, that actions like Israel's were only dangerous if repeated).

It is of course a unique situation: Argentina was actively shielding Eichmann; his crimes were genocidal; and there was no legal alternative.

Certainly the world cannot tolerate nations kidnapping people for ordinary crimes or perceived injustices. But those who slavishly claim that international law is inviolate seem to believe that the law is more important than justice - or even more important than people's lives.

(h/t Callie)