Remembering David Horowitz (37): Broken in Beirut

In April 1982, the evacuation of the Israeli settlement of Yamit in the Sinai Peninsula began and by April 25th, Israel had completed its withdrawal from the Sinai in accordance with the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979.

On April 24-25, David Horowitz appeared as one of the keynote speakers at the 32nd anniversary celebration of the proclamation of independence of the South Moluccan people, held in Utrecht, Holland. In his address, Mr. Horowitz called upon the large gathering of South Moluccans never to give up in their continuing struggle for independence based on pledges of original treaties recorded in United Nations documents.

Following the departure of the Dutch from the Indonesian archipelago over three decades ago, the South Moluccas, one of the sixteen federated states, proclaimed independence on April 25, 1950. Its people have continued to struggle against Indonesians who repeat acts of aggression against the neighboring people of East Timor. Jakarta was condemned at the UN for such acts.

Horowitz declared that the case for South Moluccan independence “is based on historical facts and from the international point of view, the South Moluccan’s case is still on the agenda of the Security Council of the United Nations.” “Dating back to the year 1950, it has never been removed,” Horowitz stated.

Horowitz has been an advocate and tireless worker on behalf of the South Moluccan people in their struggle for independence since 1950.

PLO tyranny in Lebanon continued.

Tension along Israel’s northern border increased during the course of 1981 following the lobbing of Katyusha rockets at Israeli settlements by terrorist organizations in southern Lebanon. The ceasefire declared in July 1981 was broken and the attacks against Israeli targets in Israel and abroad became unbearable.

The final provocation occurred on June 3, 1982, when a Palestinian terrorist group led by Abu Nidal attempted to assassinate Shlomo Argov, Israel’s Ambassador to Great Britain. Three days later, on June 6, 1982, the Israeli Defense Forces launched “Operation Peace for Galilee,” in an effort to drive out the terrorists.

Israeli commanders meeting during Operation Peace for Galilee.

The IDF moved 80,000 troops into Lebanon. The invasion took the Israelis all the way to Beirut in an attempt to expel the PLO. The siege of Beirut ended in August when an agreement was reached that allowed a multi-national force of U.S., French and Italian troops to enter Beirut to aid in the evacuation of PLO and Syrian fighters while the Israelis pulled back their troops.

On August 21, 1982, Palestinian fighters began to withdraw as the French contingent of the multi-national force arrived. Over the course of 12 days, approximately 14,000 Palestinian and Syrian combatants were evacuated. This led to Yasser Arafat and his PLO fighters being unceremoniously forced to depart to Tunisia.

Though the IDF succeeded in driving the PLO out of Lebanon, the action did not end the terrorist threats from that country. The war was also costly: 1,216 soldiers died between June 5, 1982 and May 31, 1985.

During its 51st annual convention on June 10, world-renowned Yeshiva University honored David Horowitz by bestowing upon him the prestigious Mordecai ben-David Award for his services to world Jewry. In presenting the award, Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung, chairman of the Mordecai ben-David Award Committee, paid high tribute to Mr. Horowitz for his integrity and life-long dedication to the ideals of the Torah-faith and for his leadership in the United Israel World Union movement. He was also cited as a distinguished Jewish correspondent at the United Nations.

The Commencement also marked the presentation of an honorary degree to Senator Bob Packwood of Oregon who delivered the Commencement address.

In July, following the “Operation Peace for Galilee” war in Lebanon, World Union Press editor, David Horowitz, at the invitation of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, joined a group of fourteen editors of English-Jewish newspapers on a fact-finding tour of Lebanon and Israel.

After 10 days of intensive talks with Lebanese civilians, both Christian and Moslem, as well as interviews with soldiers on both sides of the border and with officials involved with the war on the scene, Horowitz prepared his report. It was written in Jerusalem and syndicated to the publications that carried his columns. A full copy of his report appeared in the summer 1982 edition of the United Israel Bulletin.

In an interesting and coincidental development, David ran into Hollywood entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. in the El Al lounge at JFK airport on July 13, as he prepared to depart on the fact-finding mission to Israel and Lebanon. As it turned out, Davis flew on the same plane as Horowitz and the group of Jewish editors. Having corresponded in the past, Davis and Horowitz had ample time to enjoy a warm visit. Sammy Davis Jr. was a convert to the Jewish faith in 1961.

Lebanese president-elect Bachir Gemayel pursued peace with Israel.

On August 23, 1982, the Lebanese Parliament elected leader Bachir Gemayel as president of the Lebanese Republic. A Maronite Catholic, he was a senior member of the Phalange party and the former supreme commander of the Lebanese Forces militia during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90). With the PLO having been ousted, maybe now the prospects for Lebanon to return to stability would be brighter.
Gemayel was clear on his vision and purpose as leader. He explained, “We are looking for the liberation of our country. We are looking that all the foreigners leave, Syrians, Palestinians and Israelis, and even UNIFIL. We don’t need any foreign, armed presence in this country.” He, of course, never mentioned the covert relationship he had established with Israel.

On September 1, 1982, Gemayel visited Netanya in Israel to meet with Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The Israeli premier requested the start of immediate negotiations toward a peace treaty between the two countries. Gemayel asked instead for a respite of six to nine months to establish his authority. He did concede, however, to an agreement to “normalize” relations between the two countries.

On September 12, Bachir Gemayel also met secretly with Israel’s Ariel Sharon in Bikfaya.

But Lebanon’s youngest president-elect would never be able to fulfill his promises. He was assassinated two days later on September 14, along with 26 others, when a bomb exploded in the Beirut Phalange headquarters.

Habib Shartouni, a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and also a Maronite Christian, was arrested for the assassination. He later confessed to the act, saying he had done this because “Bachir had sold the country to Israel.” A reporter was overheard telling him “You didn’t kill a man, you killed a country.”

With a light of hope now extinguished, Israel continued to have difficulty escaping the morass in Lebanon. Even the U.S. was soon to be drawn into the Lebanese quagmire.

During the weekend of November 20-21, 1982, David Horowitz was afforded the opportunity to recall the horror of the Holocaust. He was invited to appear as the guest speaker at a gala banquet sponsored by the American Congress of Jews from Poland and Survivors of Concentration Camps, held at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The event was in tribute to its long-time president, Benjamin Grey, with the occasion marking his eightieth birthday.

Grey’s life story depicts a saga replete with heroic deeds both during and after the Holocaust that one-day must be fully told in book and film.

In his address, Horowitz presented a detailed account of the on-going battle Israel was waging against the rabid Soviet-Arab-Third World automatic majority, which was dominating the UN on almost every issue of its agenda. He noted, however, that Israel enjoyed a few friends at the UN, most prominent of whom was Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. Ambassador. Thanks to her, he stated, the Arabs failed in their attempt to oust Israel from the Assembly. He also paid tribute to Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Z. Blum who in his brilliant and eloquent rebuttals gained him respect and admiration from both friend and foe.

Horowitz kindling the Hanukkah candles.

A unique Hanukkah kindling ceremony was held at the United Nations on December 15, 1982, in the late afternoon in the World Union Press bureau of David Horowitz. Approximately 20 people crowded into the bureau office to participate in the joyous, festive occasion. It was the first of many more to come.

In a Jerusalem Post article appearing later in 1996, writer Naomi Farrell-Golan reflected on the Hanukkah celebrations, “The celebration of Hanukkah at the UN began in the office of David Horowitz in 1982, and this paved the way to an awakening of the Jews working at the UN. The annual Hanukkah party that started in his small crowded office is now a great elaborate celebration held in a hall, with lots of good food, entertainment and Israeli folk dancing.”

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

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