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Shlomo Argov

(1929 - 2003)

Shlomo Argov was born in Jerusalem in 1929, the descendant of family which has lived in Jerusalem for seven generations. As a young man and a member of the Palmach, he was wounded in the 1948 War of Independence in the battle for Safed.

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.

A gifted orator, Argov was an eloquent and highly respected advocate of Israel's cause, and of its rightful place among the nations. Those who knew him were moved and inspired to work with him to bring understanding and peace to Israel and its neighbors. In June 2002, on the 20th anniversary of the assassination attempt, Israel Ambassador to Britain Zvi Shtauber said: "Shlomo Argov's life since that fateful evening illustrates the tragic capacity of terror to silence the very diplomacy that is needed to bring peace to all the peoples of the Middle East."

Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Argov was a "symbol and example" of the Israeli diplomat manning his post and facing the world on the diplomatic front. "Shlomo Argov was shot on his watch at one of Israel's most difficult hours, at the peak of a wave of PLO terror that then hit Israel," he said.

Former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek wrote in 1983, in a preface to a collection of Argov's speeches writings entitled An Ambassador Speaks Out: "Shlomo Argov has become a symbol of the Israeli diplomat who today not only fights for his country's cause under most difficult circumstances, but also risks his very life in doing so... Shlomo applied himself to the Foreign Service with a particular single-mindedness, regarding it as both a profession and a mission in life. He aspired to perfection and never relented in his efforts in search of new waSys to fight more effectively on the diplomatic front for the just cause of Israel."

Hava, devoted wife of Shlomo Argov, passed away in May 2002. He was survived by a son and two daughters - Gideon, 47, Yehudit, 44, and Edna, 35.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.