It was April 1958 and the celebrations and tributes marking the 10th Anniversary of the Republic of Israel and the 15th of United Israel World Union were in full swing.
On the world scene, General Charles de Gaulle becomes premier of France as a result of the Algerian crisis and is given special powers by the French Parliament. In a reply to Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s message of congratulations, the new premier stated: “I salute the courageous nation of Israel, with which France maintains solid ties of friendship and shares the same spiritual ideal.”
It’s worth mentioning that in the midst of hostilities toward the young nation of Israel, the Druze people who represent a religious minority reflect a most welcome and refreshing attitude of acceptance. Rooted in Ismailism, a branch of Shia Islam but whose social customs differ markedly from those of Muslims or Christians, the Druze are Arabic speaking citizens of Israel who serve in both the Israeli Defense Forces and in politics.
In a new publication issued for the Druze community in Israel by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, a number of leading Druze hail the State of Israel and emphasize their loyalty to it. Sheikh Salih Adu Rukun, in discussing the duties of which a man owes towards his country and government writes: “We are duty bound to love our country, for there are strong ties between us and it. We were born and bred among a people which God has gathered in from all the corners of the earth into its promised land, and which has turned this holy land into a Garden of Eden, in fulfillment of the words of Isaiah: Behold, I create a new heaven and a new earth. We are a branch of the Israel nation, and its ways have become ours.”
On May 11th (21 Iyar, 5718), Mrs. Bertha Chazan Horowitz, 84, wife of Cantor Aaron Horowitz, spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Jacob, and mother of UIWU President David Horowitz passed away. She was taken into the bosom of the Eternal’s grace, fittingly, on Mother’s Day.
In a meeting with Ambassador Daniel A. Chapman, Permanent Representative of Ghana to the UN, David Horowitz congratulated him on Ghana’s first anniversary of its independence. In March of 1957, Ghana became one of the first African nations to declare its independence from European colonization.
A number of years before Ghana became independent, hundreds of Gold Coast bible students became interested in United Israel World Union and in 1955 some of them, under the guidance of several schoolteachers, organized a unit of UIWU in the province. In subsequent years, Headmaster Immanuel Johnson Kumi of Presby Village School in Kwaboanta, himself a convert to the Hebrew faith, corresponded regularly with David Horowitz. Photos and reports about unit activities in Ghana have appeared in past UIWU bulletins.
Ghana maintains a close association with the State of Israel and there’s a story behind it.
Had it not been for an American black woman, Marguerite Cartwright, a roving correspondent for the Pittsburgh Courier, Israel today would never enjoy the close and friendly relations with the new, important West African state of Ghana. Both Marguerite and her husband, Leonard Carl Cartwright, played a vital role in the events that led to the Ghana-Israel relationship.
It all happened in the year of the Bandung Conference. The Conference was the first large-scale meeting of Asian and African states, most of which were newly independent, which took place on April 18-24, 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia. In a sobering way of looking at it, the 25 countries that participated at the conference represented nearly one-quarter of the earth’s land surface and a total population of 1.5 billion people.
En route to Bandung, Marguerite, a type of modern Queen of Sheba, visited what was then the Gold Coast and interviewed the leaders of the country, including Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah. Through many discussions, Marguerite convinced Nkrumah and his colleagues that, upon Ghana’s attainment of independence, Israel would be the most logical country to call upon for technical, cultural, maritime, civil and administrative assistance. She cited Israel’s enormous success in these areas during its short period of independence.
At first, Nkrumah appeared skeptical, being fully aware of the strained Arab-Israel relations, and seemed to dismiss the thought. The persistent Marguerite Cartwright, however, kept pressing the positive results that would accrue from relations with the Jewish State. Finally, Nkrumah agreed that he would be open to the idea.
Fortified with this mandate, Marguerite attended the Bandung Conference and on her way back, stopped in Israel. There she conferred with Golda Meir, Moshe Sharett and others. Realizing the great importance and significance of Marguerite’s mission, the Israeli leaders lost no time in putting the Foreign Office machinery into motion. The results were hugely successful. Trade agreements were signed and an Israel-Ghana shipping line established, opening doors of trade and industry between the two countries. Both nations would benefit greatly from the mutual exchange of goods. Ghana would become the first African country to establish diplomatic relations with the nation of Israel.
Marguerite Cartwright would become the darling of the Israeli Foreign Office and one of the best friends that Kwame Nkrumah could have.
High summer had arrived and the Middle East was busy being the Middle East.
In July, Iraq’s pro-Western monarchy was overthrown. King Faisal II and Premier Nuri es-Said are murdered.
Fearing that his own regime would be next, Lebanon’s President Camille Chamoun appeals to the US, Britain and France for military aid. Following the invocation of the Eisenhower Doctrine the next day, the US would send 14,000 Marines to land on the coast of Lebanon to protect it from a United Arab Republic or Communist invasion.
King Hussein of Jordan then sought military aid from Britain to withstand United Arab Republic and Communist threats after the revolt in Iraq. British paratroopers landed in Jordan and would remain there until October 29.
In the midst of Israel’s 10th anniversary celebration, Premier David Ben Gurion, who held great interest in biblical research, opened his Jerusalem home to monthly bible study groups in which he himself was an active participant. The Prime Minister made it clear that this present generation of Jews was the last generation of bondage and servitude and the first in redemption, thereby bringing the Messianic ideal of deliverance from a long and wearisome journey. This vision of Jewish and universal redemption fostered a sense of spiritual closeness and bond to the sacred books of the Hebrew faith.
By now, the Eisenhower administration was convinced that challenging Egypt’s Nasser was counterproductive. In late 1958, it quietly abandoned the Eisenhower Doctrine and decided to seek an accommodation with Nasser. This decision was facilitated by an unexpected deterioration in relations between Nasser and the Soviet Union. The result was a modest US-Egyptian rapprochement lasting for the rest of Eisenhower’s term and into that of his successor.
Ghana and Israel maintained mutual ties, but later severed their relations in the wake of the Yom Kippur War. For the next four decades they maintained only basic ties through Nigeria. They would later restore full diplomatic relations, mutual economic growth and an abiding friendship.
Marguerite P. Cartwright, the sociologist and journalist who specialized in African affairs and whose early persistent efforts played such a key role in the Israel-Ghana relationship, lived in Manhattan. She became friends with another old journalist, David Horowitz. For more than three decades, her newspaper columns appeared regularly in “The Pittsburgh Courier” and “The New York Amsterdam News.” Surviving her husband by four years, she died in 1986 at the age of 76. They left no survivors.
In Sefwi Wiawso, located in southwest Ghana, there is a Jewish community who call themselves “The House of Israel” and claims to have roots in the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel. They built themselves a synagogue in 1998, a simple, rectangular concrete building and painted it a brilliant blue and white to match the Israeli flags that hang above the doorways.
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 twelth in the series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.