1984 arrived and United Israel World Union was turning 40.
The annual meeting of the biblically inspired body was held on April 25th in the home of President David Horowitz. Among those in attendance at the historic meeting were Ms. Dorothy Adelson, author of the historic volume “Operation Susannah,” recounting Jewry’s struggle for statehood at the UN; Rene Shapshak, renowned sculptor; and Martin J. Warmbrand, Secretary of the Board of Governors of the City University of New York.
Executive Vice President of United Israel, Barnard G. Sharrow, reported on the organization’s progress through recent years in Ghana, the Philippines, Mexico, and units within the United States.
It was announced that the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Dr. Bernard Casper, former Dean of the Hebrew University, and Dr. Heskel M. Haddad, MD, President of the World Organization for Jews from Arab Countries, had both joined the United Israel Editorial Board.
In news from Rome, it was announced that the Vatican and the U.S. had agreed to exchange diplomats after a 116-year hiatus, and though it took a few hundred years, Italy and the Vatican agreed to end Roman Catholicism as a state religion.
On June 28, 1984, Yigael Yadin, Israeli archaeologist, soldier and politician, died at the age of 67. Yadin, the son of renowned archaeologist Eleazar Sukenik, was educated at Hebrew University, became a member of the Haganah (military organization) and served as chief of the general staff of the Israeli Defense Forces from 1949 to 1952. He was also Deputy Prime Minister from 1977 to1981.
He is best remembered for his role in acquiring and interpreting the Dead Sea Scrolls, and for his excavation of King Herod’s mountain palace at Masada.
Commenting on the timing of the scrolls discovery, Yadin once remarked: “I cannot avoid the feeling that there is something symbolic in the discovery of the scrolls and their acquisition at the moment of the creation of the State of Israel. It is as if these manuscripts had been waiting in caves for two thousand years, ever since the destruction of Israel’s independence, until the people of Israel had returned to their home and regained their freedom.”
During a Friday evening Sabbath Service at New York’s Beth Achim, Rabbi Irving J. Block, longtime spiritual leader of The Brotherhood Synagogue, presented a Torah Scroll to Rabbi and Mrs. Samuel S. Lerer for use in the newly established Beth Shmuel house of worship at Vera Cruz, Mexico.
After expressing his gratitude to Rabbi Block and his congregation for the beautiful endowment of the Torah Scroll, Rabbi Lerer offered this moving tribute to United Israel President David Horowitz: “You were the source and fountain from which I drew my inspiration, my conviction, and my dedication to work hand-in-hand with you to bring the multitudes into the fold of our God, our faith and our people.”
The fast growing congregation of Beth Shmuel in Vera Cruz now had their very own sacred Torah Scroll to use and cherish as a part of their Hebraic faith.
As a UN correspondent, David Horowitz’s incisive coverage and tough-reporter mentality continued to earn widespread respect and admiration. An example came from well-known journalist and author, Dr. Hillel Seidman.
In an article published in the Israeli Daily Hatsophe on August 3, 1984, Dr. Seidman had this to say about David: “Mr. Horowitz knows the UN inside out, keeping an eye on everything that goes on there. As the author of a widely circulated political column appearing in a number of papers, he has won admirers among many delegations. He knows everyone. More than that, there’s no one like him as an expert in the workings of all the UN elements. He keeps a watchful eye on the maneuverings of the delegations that aim their venom at Israel. Thus Horowitz fulfills a vital task as both a watchman and a champion of Israel.” Dr. Seidman further cited Horowitz as a long-time friend of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
This was, indeed, high praise coming from the homeland of Israel.
On September 20, 1984, the Shia Islamic militant group Hezbollah, with support and direction from the Islamic Republic of Iran, carried out a suicide bombing targeting the U.S. embassy annex in East Beirut, Lebanon. The attack killed 24 people. Hezbollah had also used suicide car and truck bombs in the April 1983 U.S. embassy bombing and the October 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing.
Although the U.S. Marines had been pulled out of Lebanon earlier in 1984, it was not to be the end of the Reagan administration’s troubles in Lebanon.
In the American presidential election held on November 6, 1984, Republican Ronald Reagan was elected to a second term, defeating Democrat Walter Mondale, a former U.S vice president. Reagan won 49 states en route to amassing 525 electoral votes to Mondale’s 13. It was one of the biggest landslide victories in U.S. election history. The election was also notable for being the first time a major party had a woman on its ticket. Geraldine Ferraro was Mondale’s running mate.
On November 21, 1984 it began. The seven-week clandestine operation to bring Falash Mura Ethiopian Jews to Israel was underway. The unprecedented undertaking, code-named Operation Moses, was a three-way collaboration between the Mossad, the CIA and Sudanese State Security (SSS) to smuggle nearly 8,000 Falash Mura out of refugee camps in Sudan in a massive airlift to Israel. Operation Moses turned out to be the beginning of large-scale, official Israeli efforts to facilitate a Falash Mura aliyah that continued in some form for years.
Every night, except the Sabbath, from November 21, 1984, until January 5, 1985, buses picked up groups of about 55 Ethiopian Jews from the refugee camps and took them to Khartoum, where they boarded Boeing 707s. Altogether, 36 flights carrying approximately 220 passengers flew first to Brussels and then to Tel Aviv.
Operation Moses brought 8,000 Jews to Israel, 1,500 of them children and young people who arrived without their parents. The operation was halted as the result of leaks to the press and the fears from the Sudanese government of a backlash from Arab countries.
The next wave of Ethiopian emigration did not take place for another six years when Operation Solomon (which brought an additional 14,000 Falash Mura) was finally made possible by a regime change in Ethiopia in 1991.
The New York Times columnist William Safire wrote: “For the first time in history, thousands of black people are being brought into a country, not in chains, but as citizens.”
As the year 1984 faded into history, a new UN Envoy burst onto the scene. The State of Israel had a new Ambassador to the United Nations, the youthful and handsome Benjamin Netanyahu, whose previous post was that of deputy to the Israeli Ambassador in Washington.
Benjamin Netanyahu (known to his friends as “Bibi’) was born in 1949 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Initially raised and educated in Jerusalem, he lived in the United States from 1963 to 1967. After graduating from high school in 1967, young Benjamin returned to Israel to enlist in the Israeli Defense Forces. He trained as a combat soldier and served for five years in an elite Special Forces unit of the IDF.
Netanyahu fought in the 1967-70 War of Attrition, rising to become a team leader in the unit. He was wounded in combat on multiple occasions. He led Operation Inferno (1968) and in the rescue of the hijacked Sabena Flight 571 in May 1972, in which he was shot in the shoulder.
After completing his army service in 1972, Netanyahu returned to the United States to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but was interrupted to return to Israel in October 1973 to serve in the Yom Kippur War. While there he fought in special raids along the Suez Canal against the Egyptian forces before leading a commando attack deep inside Syrian territory, whose mission remains classified today.
Finally able to concentrate on his studies in the U.S., he earned both his bachelor’s degree (SB) and his master’s degree (SM) from MIT, graduating near the top of his class, while simultaneously completing a thesis in a graduate course at Harvard.
In making his debut during the 39th session of the General Assembly, Israel’s new Ambassador to the UN injected a fresh dynamism into the world body, deeply impressing both the press and the assembled delegations.
The occasion of Netanyahu’s UN debut marked an assembly debate during which the Iranian spokesman, supported by the radical Arabs, sought to oust Israel from the organization with an amendment questioning its credentials. Netanyahu’s maiden speech was a remarkable defense of both Israel’s credentials and the UN’s very fundamental principle of universality. David Horowitz would later remark that “Bibi’s words struck the assembled delegations like a thunderbolt and his message resonated throughout the assembly.”
Thanks to a quick countermove by the Danish Ambassador, on behalf of the five Nordic states, the anti-Israel action was killed by assembly vote.
Having David Horowitz, the grizzled veteran journalist who was referred to as “the watchman and champion of Israel,” and Bibi Netanyahu, the war hero and brilliant new spokesman, both representing and protecting Israel’s interest at this world organization, it couldn’t have been in better hands.
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 ninth in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.