Nice bit of Irony re: Israel’s kidnapping of Eichmann

This tasty irony was discussed in Hannah Arendt’s epilogue to Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Israel apparently caught a lot of flack from many quarters, including distinguished jurists and legal theorists, for kidnapping Adolf Eichmann from Argentina to stand trial in Jerusalem.   Some expressed the view that Israel had more right to kill him in Buenos Aires  than to kidnap him for purposes of a trial. [1]  

Argentina became a haven for top Nazis on the lam in part because of its tolerance for Nazi types living under false names, in part due to a network of SS men in South America and also because of their strict statute of limitation for war crimes.  If a Nazi could avoid capture for that long, he was legally home free in Argentina, Argentina would not extradite him.  

The Israelis caught Eichmann (who was living as Ricardo Klement) just after the fifteen years was up.  The statute of limitations had run, no more prosecution for that crime, those crimes, any crimes, sorry.   The Israeli’s couldn’t legally get jurisdiction over him as long to try him under their own laws as long as Eichmann had his feet on Argentine soil.   The Nazi Hunters and Ben Gurion seemed to have found themselves SOL, both in the law school sense of the acronym for statute of limitations, and in the Louis Armstrong sense referred to in the title of his “SOL Blues”, meaning “shit out of luck”.  

So they kidnapped the piece of garbage.  Rendered him back to Israel, if you will.

“… only Eichmann’s de facto statelessness enabled Israel to get away with kidnapping him [2], and it is understandable that despite the innumerable precedents cited in Jerusalem to justify the act of kidnapping, the one relevant one, the capture of Berthold Jakob, a Leftist German Jewish journalist, in Switzerland by Gestapo agents in 1935, was never mentioned.”

Nor did Hannah Arendt bother to point out the rather tasty irony of the one on-point legal precedent being the what’s good for goose is good for the gander of a Nazi protesting treatment that only the fucking Nazis, in their infinite legalistic slickness, had ever done before.  Berthold Jakob, at the time of his kidnapping, was not a fugitive from the law, as were all the others cited as precedent by Israeli prosecutors.

Nazis, man, some very fine people, very fine people, the finest people.


[1]  This is, in fact, the way most state killings are normally done these days, by the U.S.A. anyway: extrajudicially, no need for judge, jury, trial.   President declares you an enemy combatant, puts you on the secret kill list, they kill you.  No muss, no fuss.  But 1960, the time of Eichmann’s capture, was, in some ways, a quainter time in matters like fully-legal state execution without a judicial process of any kind.

[2] Eichmann had entered Argentina and was living there under a fake name, Ricardo Klement (Ricardo presumably for the priest that helped him get out of Europe) and so was not legally Adolf Eichmann in Argentina.   Also, in another neat bit of irony, recall that the Nazis were legally able to do much of what they did to Jews, Gypsies, other enemies of the states (transporting them East, among other things) under international law because they had declared them “stateless”.   Now Rickey Ricardo Eichmann himself was not protected by Argentine authorities because he was … legally stateless.   Germany wanted nothing to do with the Nazi bastard, his lawyer made the request, so the Jews just grabbed him.



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