Israel, the Jewish State in Palestine, was born on May 14, 1948. The day after Israel declared its independence, five Arab armies-Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq-invaded Palestine in an effort to prevent Israel from coming into being.
The Arab war to destroy Israel failed. The cost to Israel, however, was enormous, both in human loss and economic cost. Because of their aggression, the Arabs wound up with less territory than they would have had if they had accepted partition and the United Nations would be faced with a huge Palestinian refugee issue. Israel expected its neighbors to accept its independence as a fact and negotiate peace. This was not to be.
Four of the Arab countries signed armistice agreements with Israel in 1949 with Iraq being the only country choosing not to do so. It would be 30 years before an Arab state would agree to make peace with Israel.
1948 was winding down.
On September 14, 1948, the symbolic ground breaking ceremony of the United Nations permanent headquarters located in the Turtle-Bay area on the East Side of Manhattan took place. The event marked the beginning of
the actual work of excavation for the thirty-nine story first building. David Horowitz once remarked that he “watched the UN compound go up brick by brick.”
October 24 would be declared United Nations Day to commemorate the coming into force of the United Nations Charter, one of the greatest international undertakings in history. October 24th would be observed each year thereafter throughout the world as United Nations Day.
During the same period, Dwight David Eisenhower was installed as the thirteenth president of Columbia University. Some interesting sidelights on the appointment: the number thirteen happens to be both America’s and Israel’s peculiar symbol. Nearly all the emblems on the Great Seal of the United States run in groups or clusters of thirteen. America started with thirteen colonies, Israel with thirteen tribes. Also, thirteen is the numerical value of the Hebrew word “echad” (meaning one).
Eisenhower was taking over the reigns of the only university in the world whose official seal carries the Hebrew name YHVH as its most imposing symbol. Eisenhower would later succeed Harry Truman as the 34th President of the United States.
Once again America stood at the head among the nations of the world in espousing the cause of Israel. The January-February 1949 issue of the UI Bulletin covered the story of the December 2, 1948 session of the Security Council in which U.S. Spokesman, Dr. Philip C. Jessup, delivered a stirring appeal urging Israel’s immediate admission as the fifty-ninth member of the UN. Dr. Jessup’s declaration indicated clearly where President Truman stood on Israel.
On March 4, 1949, the Security Council recommended Israel for admission to the United Nations. The vote, coming at about 5:40 pm (almost midnight in Israel) was 9 in favor, 1 against (Egypt), and 1 abstention (England).
David Horowitz would be present on May 11, the twelfth day of Iyar, 5709, at about 7:30 pm, when the United Nations congregated in its General Assembly Building at Flushing Meadows and admitted Israel as the 59th member nation. David summed up the prevailing emotions as the event unfolded: “It was a dramatic occasion. As the vote was taken, there prevailed an air of tense alertness, vigil and almost breathlessness. Even some of the most seasoned newsmen showed emotions that revealed their innermost feelings. Most of them, having followed the Israeli case from the very outset of the struggle, had hoped for just this sort of development. The vote, 37 in favor, 12 against with 9 abstentions, came as a sort of climax to a drama upon which the eyes of the world had been focused for a long time. For the Jews, the event seemed Messianic in scope.”
In the November 1949 edition of the UI Bulletin, there was a story on Herbert Hoover’s plan for Palestine. Hoover, a former US President (1929-33) and a Quaker, was known as “the great humanitarian” for his many relief initiatives that fed war-torn Europe during and after World War I and similar efforts post World War II. He had proposed a plan for the many displaced Palestinian refugees following Israel’s War of Independence.
Much could be written, and has been, regarding the refugee issue. For brevity sake however, the least one should know is an overview of the facts. The Palestinians left their homes in 1947-48 for many reasons. Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, fleeing to neighboring Arab countries to await its end. Thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ calls to flee out of the way of the advancing armies and in a few cases the Israeli forces did expel Arab residents from villages, usually out of military necessity.
From census records, best estimates show that no more than 650,000 Palestinian Arabs could have become refugees. Reports by the UN mediator on Palestine arrived at an even lower figure of 472,000.
There would be no welcome mats in neighboring Arab countries for the displaced refugees and the UN would become essentially a welfare agency for the Palestinians.
Hoover’s proposal was that Iraq be made the scene of resettlement of the Arabs from Palestine. Quoting directly from Hoover’s plan: “In ancient times the irrigation of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys supported probably 10 million people. The deterioration and destruction of their irrigation works by the Mongol invasion centuries ago and their neglect for ages are responsible for the shrinkage of the population. My own suggestion is that Iraq might be financed to complete this great land development on the consideration that it be made the place of resettlement of the Arabs from Palestine.
This would clear Palestine completely for a large Jewish emigration and colonization.
A suggestion to transfer the Arab people of Palestine was made by the British Labor Party in December 1944, however, no adequate plan was proposed as to where or how they were to go. There is room for many more Arabs in such a development in Iraq than the total of Arabs in Palestine. The soil is more fertile. They would be among their own race, Arab-speaking and Mohammedan.”
The Hoover Plan was submitted to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine in December 1945.
Speaking in Kansas City on December 27, 1948, President Harry Truman made reference to the Hoover Plan as a possible settlement of the Arab refugee problem brought about by the war in Palestine. He viewed it as a way to relieve the plight of the refugees while also benefiting Iraq since Palestinians excel at both agriculture and construction.
The November 1949 issue of the UI Bulletin also included a full-page advertisement for David Horowitz’s autobiography “33 Candles.” It included a publishing date of November 1949 with a retail price of $3.50.
Israel was now a member nation of the UN and was ready to take its place at the big table. The alphabetical seating arrangement of the United Nations delegates at all committee meetings placed Israel in a rather uncomfortable position. Directly at Israel’s left sits Iraq, then Iran and India. At her right is Lebanon. These states, who voted against Israel’s admission into the World Body, seemed not to be too pleased with their immediate seating partner. The UN experience would lead to Israeli delegate Abba Eban making his famous observation, while commenting about the UN General Assembly: “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.”
The decade of the 1940s was one of immense change in every aspect of the human experience. Those living in our country at that time were a part of what has been called “The Greatest Generation.” David Horowitz’s life would become profoundly redirected.
United Israel World Union was founded as a world organization and Horowitz would begin a long and successful career as a United Nations Correspondent.
An impressive endorsement came from famous French author and playwright Edmund Fleg. Interviewed at his Paris home, Fleg stated that the advent of “United Israel World Union in the new World is without a doubt a sign of a new beginning in American Anglo-Jewish life. It is my sincere hope that United Israel will spread to all parts of the world. The idea has a message for tomorrow.”
It was a year of many accomplishments, but David Horowitz was about to close 1949 with an event that would change his life.
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 fifth in the series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.