Remembering David Horowitz (33): Breakthrough at Camp David

After being expelled from Jordan in 1970 following the “Black September” conflict with Jordanian government forces, the PLO relocated the center of its activities to South Lebanon. In the area adjacent to Israel’s northern border, the PLO effectively established a “state within a state” and the region became a staging point for infiltration into Israel and rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

By 1978, terrorist infiltrations from Lebanon had become intolerable. After a PLO terrorist attack on two buses near Tel Aviv in which 37 civilians were murdered and 76 wounded, Israel decided to act, invading Lebanon on March 14th and advancing to the Litani River.

In response to the invasion, the UN Security Council passed resolutions calling for the withdrawal of Israeli forces. Under pressure from the U.S. and the UN, Israel agreed to withdraw. The UN created a multinational peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) to enforce the mandate and to act as a buffer zone.

Citing a 100-year-old article that appeared in “The Jewish Chronicle” in London on May 2, 1879, David Horowitz published the first of his three part series on the 10 Northern Tribes in the 1978 summer edition of the United Israel Bulletin. Titled “The Jews Are Not Alone,” the exposition became one of his most popular compositions.

In the winter edition of the 1978 Bulletin, it was revealed that United Israel World Union had established contact with a group of black Jews in Ghana. In a letter from the founder and leader of the Ghana group, Aaron Ahomtre Toakyurufah, to David Horowitz, he reaffirmed their faith in the Torah and expressed sincere gratitude to United Israel for reaching out to them.

In his letter, Toakyurufah stated that their community was established on June 22, 1975 at Sefwi-Sui in the Republic of Ghana, and that “We obey the Law and other Jewish customs as expressed in the Torah of our Lord God of Israel and we also cling to the Sabbath.”

In a touching expression of gratitude, he also indicated that the Jewish community of Ghana observed Saturday, July 1, 1978 as “the Sabbath of Good News” because “it was on that day that we received a letter and literature from the United Israel organization.” Further stating, “We lack assistance such as training in Hebrew education and customs,” Toakyurufah promised they would be “studying all the literature that United Israel sent to them.”

David Horowitz and United Israel would become instrumental in assisting the Ghana community in many ways including educational material they so badly needed and the gift of Siddurim (prayer books) donated by Rabbi Irving Block and the Brotherhood Synagogue in Manhattan.

Thirty-eight years later, the Sefwis community in Ghana, West Africa became the subject of a documentary film produced by Canadian film-maker Gabrielle Zilkha titled: “Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana.” Included in the production was the role United Israel played in the community’s journey of self-discovery and growth.

“Have we not all one father? Hath not One God created us? Why then do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?”
With this challenging universalistic biblical passage from the Prophet Malachi, Yehuda Z. Blum, Israel’s new Ambassador to the United Nations, opened his UN maiden speech delivered at a specially arranged press conference after presenting his new credentials to Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim.

Israeli Representative Yehuda Z. Blum Press Photo

An escapee of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where at the age of 13 he had undergone his Bar Mitzvah, the 47 year old Blum was taking his place as the latest Israeli spokesman to tackle the vexing perennial problems facing the Jewish State in this parliament of man.

Attending the press conference, David Horowitz reported that the youthful former professor of law delivered a moving message that resonated throughout the room.

Calling it “an honor to serve my country and my people in this organization,” Blum offered a challenging reminder to the members to “bring the UN back to its very own charter of which espouses those universal principles which were first proclaimed over 3,000 years ago by the prophets of Israel.”

A state of war had existed between Egypt and the State of Israel since the establishment of Israel in 1948. Prior to Anwar el-Sadat becoming Egypt’s president in 1970, three Arab-Israeli wars had been fought with Israel decisively defeating Egypt in each. As a result of the 1967 war, Israel occupied Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the 23,500-square-mile peninsula that links Africa with Asia.

In October 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a joint surprise attack against Israel that became known as the Yom Kippur War. Although Egypt had again suffered military defeat against its Jewish neighbor, the initial Egyptian successes greatly enhanced Sadat’s prestige in the Middle East and provided him with an opportunity to seek peace.

Following Anwar Sadat’s dramatic journey to Jerusalem in November 1977 where he spoke before the Israeli Knesset (Parliament), U.S President Jimmy Carter invited Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to the presidential retreat at Camp David to attempt to negotiate a peace agreement. The account of Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem can be read in a previous episode titled: “It happened in the City of David.”

On September 5, 1978, the three heads of state and their aides arrived at Camp David. A news blackout was subsequently imposed for the duration of the talks. They argued, they haggled and at one point personal relations became so badly strained it appeared that the talks might collapse. In the end there were breakthroughs and the framework of a successful peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Two agreements were signed on September 17, 1978 that came to be known as the Camp David Accords.

The agreements represented a monumental shift in Middle East relations.

Menachem Begin had made the startling concessions of not only the entire Sinai, with its settlements and military bases, but also agreed to withdraw from parts of the West Bank and grant the Palestinians a measure of self-rule.

In exchange for these tangible compromises, Israel received nothing more than Egyptian promises of a new peaceful relationship. But those commitments were the fulfillment of a 30-year dream.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians lined Cairo’s streets when Sadat returned from Camp David. He was hailed as the “hero of peace” and called a Pharaoh by some, but in the rest of the Arab world, not so much. Seventeen hard-line Arab nations, reacting to the separate peace with Israel, adopted political and economic sanctions against Egypt.

For his willingness to make peace with Israel, Sadat became a hero in the United States.

For his willingness to cut a deal that benefited Egypt alone while leaving the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, Sadat was seen as a traitor in the Arab world.

For the risks he took to dare seek peace with the Jewish nation, paying the high price of peace was now on the clock.

A little over a month after the conclusion of the Camp David talks, which laid the foundation for a later formal Peace Treaty, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in bringing about peace between Israel and Egypt. The award was presented in a ceremony on December 10, 1978.

The award of the Prize to Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin could be called historical in the wider sense, in that we only know of one previous peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. This, as Israeli scholars have revealed, took place some 3,000 years ago; it was the peace concluded between King David’s son, wise King Solomon, and the Egyptian Pharaoh.

On December 8, 1978, Golda Meir died in Jerusalem at the age of 80. Serving as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel (1969-1974), Meir was in office during the Yom Kippur War, the last with Egypt before peace finally came.

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 thirty third in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.

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