Who's Who in Jewish History: After the Period of the Old Testament

By Joan Comay | Go to book overview

E

EBAN, (Solomon), Abba

b. 1915. Israel diplomat and political leader. The man known in the world as the 'Voice of Israel' was the least typical of Israel leaders. Eban came into government as a former Cambridge University don, a polished diplomat, orator and linguist. In the rough arena of Israel politics, he held his place by intellectual ability, and by the Zionist commitment under his British reserve.

He was born in Cape Town, the son of Abraham Meir Solomon, a merchant. Abba (Aubrey) was six months old when they moved to London, from where his mother, Alida, had come. His father died soon after, and some years later his mother remarried, to Dr Isaac Eban. As a boy, Aubrey was studious and serious-minded, rather shy and introspective, but with a sharp wit. His gift for speaking and debating was already developed in his teens when he was active in a Junior Zionist Society. His maternal grandfather Eliahu Sacks, an immigrant from Lithuania, supervised his reading and Hebrew studies.

At eighteen he was admitted to Queen's College, Cambridge, on a scholarship, and read classics and Oriental languages. He was elected president of the Cambridge Union (the university debating club), took a triple first degree, and was appointed a research fellow.

During the war, Eban was commissioned in the Intelligence Corps and at the end of 1941, posted to General Headquarters, Cairo for censorship duties in Arabic and Hebrew. He obtained a transfer to Jerusalem as liaison officer between military headquarters and the Jewish Agency. In 1943 he was back in Cairo as a major, working with military intelligence. There he met the future Mrs Eban, the attractive Suzy Ambache, daughter of an Egyptian Jewish engineer. At the end of the war, Eban was deputy director of a British Middle East Centre for Arab studies in the Old City of Jerusalem.

When he was demobilized in 1946, Dr WEIZMANN persuaded him to join the political department of the Jewish Agency, headed by SHARETT. His job was to be the movement's Middle East expert in London, but the focus of the political battle soon shifted to the United Nations in New York. Eban was a staff adviser to the Jewish Agency delegation, and one of two liaison officers to the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP).

On the establishment of the state in May 1948, he was appointed its first permanent representative to the UN, and also as ambassador in Washington (1950). He held both posts till 1959. During these years Eban had, in effect, a triple task: to fight the public battles at the UN; to gain support in Washington; and to rally the American Jewish community. His major achievement in this period was after the Sinai Campaign of October 1956. In Washington, Eban negotiated an understanding with the Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, recorded in a written memorandum of 11 February. At the same time, Eban used delaying tactics in talks with Dag Hammarskjold, the UN secretary-general. On 1 March, Mrs MEIR, the foreign minister, announced the assumptions on

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Who's Who in Jewish History: After the Period of the Old Testament
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Maps vi
  • Author''s Preface vii
  • Glossary viii
  • Chronology xi
  • World Jewish Population in 1993 xxxv
  • A 1
  • B 34
  • C 76
  • D 90
  • E 107
  • F 125
  • G 137
  • H 152
  • I 181
  • J 187
  • K 211
  • L 223
  • M 241
  • N 271
  • O 278
  • P 282
  • R 292
  • S 318
  • T 361
  • Uv 369
  • W 372
  • Y 389
  • Z 392
  • Thematic Index 397
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