As 1969 dawned, Richard M. Nixon is inaugurated the 37th President of the United States on January 20, succeeding Lyndon B. Johnson.
During Nixon’s time in office, the United States forged quasi-alliances with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. These relationships were buttressed by a new policy formulation known as the “Nixon Doctrine.” The doctrine called for greater reliance on regional “cops on the beat,” powerful pro-Western governments that could protect American interests in various parts of the world, thus obviating the need for direct U.S. military intervention.
Just as Nixon was taking office, Egyptian President Gamel Nasser greatly stepped up Egypt’s sporadic artillery attacks and commando raids against Israeli positions in the Sinai. Hostilities in the Six-Day War had barely ended when Nasser resumed fighting. Even though his forces had been routed, he was unwilling to leave Israel alone.
Having learned that the Israeli army could not be attacked head-on, Nasser was convinced that because most of Israel’s army consisted of reserves, it could not withstand a lengthy war. He believed Israel would be unable to endure the economic burden, and that the constant casualties would undermine Israeli morale. Politically, starting a new war also maintained his standing as the leader of the fight against Zionism.
The fighting gradually escalated into what became known as the “War of Attrition,” and lasted nearly two years, until 1970.
In March, United Israel World Union board member Eddie Abrahams left for Japan to deliver a beautiful silver-ornamented, Oriental Torah to the Synagogue in Osaka. It was presented during the Passover as a gift on behalf of The Brotherhood Synagogue in New York.
After the untimely death of Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, 71 year-old Golda Meir was elected the fourth Prime Minister of Israel on March 17, 1969. After serving as Minister of Labor and Foreign Minister, Golda Meir became Israel’s first and only woman to hold the office of Prime Minister. Born in Kiev, Russia, she grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
On the morning of March 28, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower died in Washington, D.C. at the age of 78.
It was Passover 5729, (April 1969), and a time to look back in history and reflect deeply on the events of the Exodus under the guidance of the unparalleled prophet Moses. In describing the ancient, never-to-be-forgotten Red Sea episode over 3,500 years ago, David Horowitz often referred to it as the work of an Unseen Hand in bringing Israel out of the land of Egypt.
He also felt that Providence was clearly at work in the recent Six-Day War victory in the face of overwhelming odds.
In one of his more reflective moods, David remarked that he could sense it at work. He repeatedly mentioned the odd and unexplainable developments he had witnessed from his unique vantage point at the UN, having covered the world organization since its inception. His thoughts and reflections on events that took place in that World Parliament (He referred to it as the “Parliament of Man”) were always viewed through the lens of the divine plan. Particularly in the adjudication of issues affecting Israel and her enemies.
1948 had brought the watershed event. Once again, as in biblical times, Israel was very much on the global scene. David felt that Israel was reborn and thus, so were her enemies. He often said that history does repeat itself in a most uncanny manner and that there is nothing new under the sun. Assyria was with us in another guise today. Egypt was Egypt. So too, were Ammon, Moab, Syria, Edom and Babylon, even the troublesome Philistines.
The scene is the same and so with the people-only in 20th century garb. He would say (with emphasis), “Despite all our civilization, the spirit, the ancient enmities have not changed.” He felt he could see this in the debates brought out at the UN.
David felt that following 1948, we would begin to see certain biblical elements being brought into play. Much like the restarting of an ancient clock.
These were the sentiments he expressed on this occasion of Passover 5729:
“Following a bitter 2,000 year old exile, Israel is back home, but only after having traversed the earth with the Torah message via Judaism, Islam and Christianity. And only after having paid the horrendous price of unceasing torture and martyrdom. Papal decrees, Spanish Inquisition, Russian and Polish pogroms, Prussian anti-Semitism and Hitlerian murder. What a price!
And the world is still ungrateful.
The serpent’s head stands poised once again to strike against the people of Abraham. But this time the Hand is there. This time the words of the prophets
will be heard. The result will not be a Treblinka or a Dachau, but an Exodus. For the rod of Moses is still intact and the Cloud of Sinai is not dimmed.”
In June, Rabbi Hailu Moshe Paris, a long-standing board member of United Israel World Union, received his Bachelor of Hebrew Literature degree from Yeshiva University and began graduate work at the University’s Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Rabbi Paris, who also studied at Yeshivat Hadarom in Rehovot, Israel in the late fifties, was a vocal advocate for African Jewry and worked tirelessly on behalf of the Falasha Jews of Ethiopia.
The amazing story of how Rabbi Paris fled to the United States as a child during Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1936 can be read in a previous episode titled: “Bringing the Torah to Harlem.”
On July 7, a New York Times dispatch from Tel Aviv reported: “Israeli soldiers give heroes’ burials today to some of the 960 defenders who perished in the historic suicide pact on Masada 1,896 years ago.” The report went on to recount the history behind the decision taken by the last Hebrew defenders of Israel on the eve of Passover, A.D. 73.
Among the many Israeli officials present was Prime Minister Menachem Begin who, as the Times reported, pledged in a graveside oration, “Never another Masada.”
An interesting aspect to the unique and dramatic ceremony lies in the fact that the burials were made in one of the many compounds at the foot of the mount where the Romans had encamped for the siege.
Recalling his first visit to the ancient fortress during the British Mandate days in the mid 1920’s, David Horowitz reflected on the event: “As I reached the summit and viewed the scenes of our ancestors’ glorious last stand, I looked down the declivity and saw the ruins of the camps which Flavius Silva had built at the important approaches to the mount. I was moved and emotionally touched to the very heartstrings of my being.”
Offering a final thought, Horowitz remarked: “Eliezer the Hebrew, and his company had chosen death rather than slavery under the Roman eagle. They laid themselves to rest here. Now here we are, back on Masada again, treading on Roman ruins. Jerusalem is rebuilt, and we are again a nation.”
But then again, no one ever had to convince David Horowitz of the power of an unseen hand at work in the ever-unfolding march of history.
On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin became the first humans ever to land on the moon. About six-and-a-half hours later, Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. As he took his first step, Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The Apollo 11 mission occurred eight years after President John Kennedy (1917-63) announced a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. America had reached her goal.
From August 15-18, 1969, the most celebrated music festival in history took place in upstate New York. At a time when Americans were deeply divided, over 400,000 young people from across the country gathered for “three days of peace and music” that instantly became a symbol of an entire generation. It became known simply as “Woodstock.”
In December, David Horowitz was appointed Managing Editor of the American Examiner, one of the leading English-Jewish Weeklies in the United States published in New York City.
Another consequence of Egyptian President Nasser’s War of Attrition against Israel was the escalation in terrorist activities by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that often provoked Israeli reprisals. Instead of attacking Israel from Syria, the terrorist groups usually mounted their operations from Jordan or Lebanon. In addition, the PLO increasingly chose to attack Israeli targets outside the Middle East as hijackings also increased.
As we turn the page on the decade of the Sixties, it might come as a surprise that by far, the most serious threat that the PLO posed was not to Israel, but to the regime of King Hussein of Jordan, as we shall see.
Ralph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.
This post is the twenty-third in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.