Born in Malmo, Sweden in 1903, David and his family emigrated to the United States in 1914 during World War I, settling in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was one of eight children of Cantor Aaron and Bertha Horowitz.
As a toddler at the synagogue where David’s family worshipped in his hometown of Malmo, the rabbi once placed his hand on David’s head and proclaimed, “David, you will go before kings and rulers”.
This would literally and metaphorically prove to be the case.
David made his first visit to what was then British-occupied Palestine as a young Zionist pioneer in 1924 and remained through the end of 1927. This was to be the first of many trips to pre-independent Israel where he would work in Jerusalem while mastering Hebrew and developing an extensive knowledge of Judaism.
It was in late 1927 when Horowitz would have a remarkable encounter with a prophetic figure, one Moses Guibbory who at the time was living in the northwest area of Jerusalem in the Sanhedria tomb area. This association changed and shaped his entire life. Horowitz details this meeting in his 1949 autobiography “Thirty-Three Candles”.
Following an intensive year working with Guibbory, Horowitz would become editor and publisher of the mammoth 2000 page compendium of biblical research based on the work of Moses Guibbory.
Following a sharp break with Guibbory in 1943, Horowitz’s life would be profoundly redirected. Out of the pangs of the past, grew a movement, a world structure, founded upon the principles of Israel’s ancient laws. It came at a time when, as Horowitz expressed, “when it appeared to me that I had been forsaken by God and man, this development vindicated my faith in the One in whom I had always placed my trust”. The movement was named United Israel World Union. It became incorporated on April 17, 1944, under the laws of the State of New York, as an educational, Mosaic Institution to function in all countries.
Another amazing development would follow the next year-1945.
Horowitz would obtain press credentials at the newly formed United Nations under the auspices of World Union Press, which was formed as an arm of United Israel World Union. He was present at the opening sessions in San Francisco and at Lake Success, NY.
The many contributions of David Horowitz, with his decades of chronicling the official affairs of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Secretary General’s office, would make him an authority on the world organization without parallel.
“He was the institutional memory of the United Nations” stated CNS news U. N. Bureau Chief, Serge Beaulieu.
It is this period, post 1945, and the rich history of the founding of two world organizations that will be the subject of the Horowitz saga. His role in both could only be described as providential.
Journalist Vanni Cappelli, son of David’s longtime friend and press associate, John Cappelli, wrote a moving tribute to David Horowitz following his death in 2002 in the Jewish Press, see He Walked With Kings And Rulers. Cappelli was a UN correspondent for Paese Sera, a left wing publication out of Rome, Italy who shared room 371 of the press section with Horowitz at the UN for more than 40 years, starting in 1960. I would like to quote a portion of his fitting tribute published on March 6, 2003:
What everyone will always remember about him with loving joy is his smile. It is the exact same smile that captured the hearts of Metropolitan Opera greats like Enrico Caruso and Geraldine Farrar when he was an office boy at the Old Met from 1918, and is preserved in a group photograph taken on the occasion of the legendary tenor’s last visit to the opera house shortly before he sailed back to Italy and died in the summer of 1921.
It is the exact same smile which shines forth in numerous pictures taken over the course of almost six decades at the United Nations which hung above his cluttered and picturesque desk. They show him greeting and engaging with the great and the obscure, the saints and the sinners, the statesmen and the journalists, Wiesel and Khrushchev, Begin and Vyshinsky, Hammarskjold and Netanyahu, Eleanor Roosevelt and U Thant.
The UN is supposed to be about dialogue, and David was always ready to answer invective with its opposite-a calm reason based on passion. That is why everyone loved him, and everyone was willing to talk to him. And when you talked long enough with David Horowitz, invective became dialogue-you just couldn’t help it.
There was a simple, compelling reason for this, and it went far beyond his venerable age or his standing as the dean of UN correspondents. It was that David represented, as no one else I have ever met, the ancient ideal upon which the world organization was supposed to be founded, and which it has so often fallen short of in its troubled history-the Brotherhood of All Mankind. His own adherence to this truth was a constant reproach to the hypocrisy of the world body. Yet, incredibly, this passionate defender of the State of Israel was never anti-UN”.
John Cappelli once said “In all my 40 years and more of knowing him, not once did he ever raise his voice in anger. That was the reason that all of the other correspondents, even those from the Arab world who would refuse to attend a press conference given by an Israeli diplomat, would come to see, and talk with, David”. In later years many more would come to pay homage, Jews and Gentiles, faithful and unbelievers, advocates of freedom and supporters of tyranny”.
As if being led by a distant echo, Vanny Cappelli would fittingly entitle his tribute to Horowitz “He Walked With Kings And Rulers”.
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 first in the series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.