Remembering David Horowitz (2): Dialogue with an Arab King

Dateline: January 17, 1945. David Horowitz was moved to write a letter to the Emir of Trans-Jordan, Abdullah Ibn al-Hussein. Copies of United Israel World Union Bulletins were sent along with references made to select articles. Also included was a copy of the UIWU Constitution which stated in part, it’s all-embracing aims and purposes: “Peace in wisdom and understanding in the love of our Creator whom all true souls should serve.”

King Abdullah

One only has to study the history of the geopolitical entity created in Palestine under the British administration. Known as the “British Mandate of Palestine” it was first carved out of Ottoman Southern Syria after World War I. British civil administration in Palestine operated from 1920 until 1948. The “controversy over Zion” was fast becoming the burdensome stone.

In his letter, David suggested to the Emir that the “Palestine Question” be approached on the basis of the decrees of a higher power. Horowitz stated: “Could it not be solved between brethren if we begin with the premise that Abraham was our common father and that his God was the one true God for all of us?”

The next procedure should then be to take “the words and the works of the prophets of the Bible, including the wisdom of the Koran which upholds the Bible, and base all solutions on what these works promised.”

Abdullah Ibn al-Hussein (1882-1951), along with his brothers Ali, Feisal and Zeid, had led the Arab forces of the Great Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule. Between 1916-1918, he worked with the British guerrilla leader, T. E. Lawrence (of Lawrence of Arabia fame) playing a key role as architect and planner, while leading guerrilla raids on garrisons of the Ottoman occupational forces.

Trans-Jordan was formed on April 21, 1921 when the British created a protectorate with Abdullah as Emir. Independence was gained on May 25, 1946 as the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan (renamed simply as Jordan in 1949), with Abdullah as king.

To Horowitz’s surprise, within two months after sending the letter, he received a lengthy reply from the Emir, dated March 2, 1945. The original letter was written in Arabic with an English translation. The Arabic letter was signed by the Emir in red ink.

Of course, the Emir was sure to look on any Jewish person as being in favor of a Jewish State in Palestine and questioned David’s motives. He also inferred that he did not want Jews settling in Palestine and also differed on David’s proposal that the Arabs and Jews take the bible and the Koran and use it as a basis for adjudicating the Palestine question.

Thus began a nearly two-year long correspondence and dialogue between the two.

It was April and it was active with historical developments.

  • Harry S. Truman succeeded to the Presidency on April 12, when Franklin D. Roosevelt died suddenly after months of declining health. Truman became our 33rd President.
  • The second annual assembly of United Israel World Union was held at the Washington, DC home of Associate Ada M. Buxton on April 28.
  • At the same time, delegates were gathering in San Francisco to hold meetings that would lead to the founding of the United Nations.
  • On April 30, Adolf Hitler committed suicide along with Eva Braun, his long-term partner, in his bunker in Berlin.
  • V-E Day on May 8, 1945 marked the end of World War II in Europe.

On May 29th, David answered Abdullah. He began by citing detailed passages from the Koran which confirmed the validity of the Tanach (Torah) and which upheld the laws of Moses. He also pointed out that it was Moses who had first set the historic boundaries of Israel as constituting an eternal heritage of the children of Israel.

He countered the Emir’s belief that the Koran superseded the Tanach in total. He said: “the Koran, as I have noticed, does not add nor does it diminish from the laws of Moses and the prophets. On the contrary, it champions the same.” He then proceeded to offer definitive statements in the Koran confirming the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore, it follows that the injunctions in the Bible are as binding upon the Arabs as they are upon the Jews and the Christians.

In closing, David would express: “Would not the All-Wise and Just, the One God of all, be mocked unless the definitive statements and plans which He gave in the Bible were given careful study and consideration in the light of all available facts.”

After two months without a response from Abdullah, David sent another letter to Amman dated July 30, 1945. Included was a copy of the newly published July-August 1945 edition of the UI bulletin that contained a story, written by David, on “The Palestine Problem” which appears to have been written with Emir Abdullah in mind.

Two points in the article are worth mentioning: David began by attacking the British for being two-faced and creating disillusionment among both Jews and Arabs in Palestine. The other point was to state that the “twelve tribes” constituting the whole house of Israel, must likewise fully realize that the children of Islam are their full cousins through Abraham and by virtue of their faiths which uphold Moses and the prophets, all must accept Sinai as the mountain of all mountains of truth. All stem from one source. All worship the God of Israel.

September 2, 1945. The Empire of Japan officially surrenders aboard the battleship Missouri bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close.

Later that month a reply from the Emir arrived. David described the letter as being friendlier in tone. The Emir seemed to be agreeing with David that the British were playing a double game in its Palestine policy, stating that: “the politics of the matter has its tricks and snares.” After expressing more of his views, Abdullah closed by quoting Alfatha Sra 1 that God had said in the Holy Koran “Dispute ye not the People of the Book except in a friendly manner, so you are to have good action from us and more.”

David would respond with another lengthy reply on October 9, 1945, continuing the dialogue.

There would be no exchange between the two for almost a year. The Emir was up for a big promotion. He became King of an independent nation on May 25, 1946, becoming one of the first Arab leaders to adopt a system of constitutional monarchy during the newly emerging era of the contemporary Arab World.

October 1946 brought the final exchange between the two.

In his letter of October 5th, King Abdullah remarked: “Personally, I know you and your faith” and expressed his understanding that David was a man “to do according to his faith and national prestige.” He closed with the words: “Please accept my friendship.”

This was to be the last message from the King.

David sent King Abdullah a short note on October 22, saying: “that God would one day re-establish His Kingdom on earth” and “when the Prophet comes he will right all things for all mankind.” David then wished “that peace may come and that we may dwell as brethren again according to the Book.”

In 1949 Abdullah entered secret peace talks with Israel, including at least five with Moshe Dayan. News of the negotiations provoked a strong reaction from other Arab states.

On July 20, 1951, King Abdullah traveled to Jerusalem for his regular Friday King Husseinprayers along with his young grandson, Prince Hussein. A lone gunman on the steps of the Al-Aqsa Mosque assassinated the King. The conspiracy-backed execution was motivated by fears that the old king would make a separate peace with Israel. Miraculously, a bullet also meant for Hussein, deflected off a medal he was wearing given to him by his grandfather, thus sparing his life.

 

The young Prince Hussein would later become King Hussein I of Jordan and enter into a peace agreement with his Israeli neighbors. And David Horowitz would live to file the story.

“I’m very happy,” said David. “You know when Abdullah was assassinated by an Arab fanatic, Hussein was a 15 year old boy and saw it happen. He has his memories.”

Bio Picture

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 second in the series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.

 

Comments are closed.

Navigate