Remembering David Horowitz (38): A Legend says Farewell

On September 21, 1982, the National Assembly elected Amine Pierre Gemayel President of Lebanon to replace his brother Bachir Gemayel, who had been elected the previous month but was assassinated before taking office. A multinational force, composed of U.S. and European military personnel, remained stationed in Lebanon to help the Lebanese government maintain stability during the civil war.

1983 arrived, bringing David Horowitz a new personal milestone. He became an Octogenarian. On April 9th, he celebrated his 80th birthday doing what he always does, faithfully manning his post at the UN while covering the affairs of the world body.

80 years on earth is a long time. David Horowitz had witnessed the Great Depression and World War II, but he was quick to remind those around him that the great lawgiver, Moses, was 80 when he began his major work in the redemption of Israel. The best was yet to come.

In the spring 1983 issue of United Israel Bulletin, United Israel approached its 40th year by restating the mission and purpose of the organization while listing many of its accomplishments during that period. Calling United Israel World Union “a pathfinder” Horowitz urged Jewry once again to recognize Israel’s universal mission and thus take the lead in answering the cry of humanity for social justice, peace, freedom and human dignity.

Perhaps stirred by his vantage point at the United Nations, he seemed to be issuing a new warning to those with ears to hear by stating, “United Israel insists that the Torah faith message to the world be such that the great challenge of the new prophets be met now; that bold, new leadership must assert itself in order to meet the perils posed by the Nuclear Age.”

On April 18, 1983, a suicide bomber crashed a truck into the front of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, detonating approximately 2,000 pounds of explosives. The massive blast killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, some of whom were CIA officers.

Major-General Chaim Herzog became the 6th President of Israel on May 5, 1983. Born in Belfast and raised predominantly in Dublin, he was the son of Ireland’s Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog. Migrating to Mandatory Palestine in 1935, he served in the Haganah Jewish paramilitary group. Later serving as an officer in the British Army during World War II, he received the jestful nickname “Vivian” because the British could not pronounce the Hebrew name “Chaim.” To our knowledge, he was never called Vivian during his ten years as Israel’s president.

David Horowitz appeared as the guest speaker at the 87th annual convention of the Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations, held on May 4 at the Minskoff Cultural Center in New York City. The theme of the convention was “Ethics Today” and Mr. Horowitz spoke on “Ethics in Journalism.”

On May 17, 1983, Lebanon, Israel and the United States signed an agreement on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. The Israeli Cabinet later voted to withdraw troops from Beirut but to remain in southern Lebanon as a buffer against acts of terrorism.

David Horowitz received a formal note of thanks from new UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar on July 27th, expressing his appreciation for sending him a copy of his book “Thirty-Three Candles” and for including a copy of the late Spanish General Franco’s letter to Horowitz from 1964. Peruvian diplomat Javier de Cuellar became the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1982.

On August 28, 1983, a tired and embattled Menachem Begin resigned as Prime Minister of the State of Israel, telling his colleagues “I cannot go on any longer.”

UN journalist David Horowitz and his wife Nan greet a young Menachem Begin in New York City in the early 1950s.

Begin had lost his beloved wife, Aliza, who died in November 1982 while he was away on an official visit to Washington. He descended into a deep depression. He also became very disappointed by the war in Lebanon because he had hoped to sign a peace treaty with President-elect Bachir Gemayel, who was assassinated before taking office.

Mounting Israeli casualties, political protests to end the war and ill health were other factors that continued to plague Begin.

He subsequently retired to an apartment overlooking the Jerusalem Forest and spent the remaining years of his life in seclusion.

The Jerusalem Forest is a special place; a pine forest located in the Judean mountains west of Jerusalem. The forest more or less surrounds Yad Vashem, the official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. The Jewish National Fund, financed by private donors, planted the forest during the 1950s.

Rarely leaving his apartment, except to visit his wife’s gravesite, Begin spent most of his days reading, watching movies, and keeping up with world events by continuing his life-long habit of listening to the BBC each morning and maintaining a subscription to several newspapers.

On the 10th of October, Israeli politician and former Mossad member Yitzhak Shamir succeeded Menachem Begin as the 7th Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

At 6:22 AM on October 23, 1983, another suicide bomber crashed a pickup truck carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives into the Marine compound in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. service personnel. At the same time, a second suicide bomber struck a building housing French paratroopers, killing 58 French soldiers. With the second attack coming within six months after the U.S Embassy bombing, the Beirut blues continued.

There were 1,800 Marines stationed in Beirut at the time as a part of the multi-national peacekeeping force with units from France, Italy and the United Kingdom. The bombing was traced to Hezbollah, a militant and political group that originated in Lebanon in 1982. Syrian and Iranian involvement was also suspected.

It was the deadliest attack against U.S. Marines since the battle over Iwo Jima in February 1945.

On November 2nd, at the White House Rose Garden, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday on the third Monday of every January to honor American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Reverend King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first observed in 1986.

The eight flames of the Menorah again brightened a corner of the UN when over 70 people gathered on December 7, 1983 to celebrate Hanukkah 5744. Arranged and hosted by David Horowitz, the historic event was held in the UN Correspondents Association Club in the Secretariat building.

Horowitz kindling the Hanukkah candles.

Among the attendees was Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Blum who had left one of the many conferences to attend the event. Ambassador Blum addressed the jubilant audience on the significance of Hanukkah. Even the new president of the UN Correspondents Association for 1983, Ifthikar Ali of Pakistan stopped by for a brief visit offering his best wishes.

As 1983 drew to a close, it was apparent that Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad was making life miserable for the Americans in Lebanon. He was providing support to the militant Shiite group Hezbollah, which along with other Lebanese groups, continued sniping, shelling, and harassing the U.S. Marines.

Hezbollah was deeply hostile to the United States because of America’s support for Israel during its invasion of Lebanon and because the U.S. had an antagonistic relationship with Iran, from which Hezbollah drew both inspiration and material aid.

Following the tragic October attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, members of Congress began demanding that the Marines be pulled out of Lebanon.

In early 1984, the Lebanese government, seeing the chaos that had resulted from the peace treaty with Israel, formally repudiated the treaty. It was a final blow.

The Reagan administration bowed to reality and on February 26, 1984, withdrew the Marines from Lebanon, essentially abandoning it to the Syrians and their radical Shiite allies.

The abduction of Lebanon continued.

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

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