Abba Eban: An Autobiography

Plunkett Lake Press
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Israel's long-time foreign minister recounts in the first-person dramatic events in which he was a key participant on the world stage: Israel's 1948 war of independence, the 1956 Suez campaign, the Six-day war in 1967 and the Yom Kippur war in 1973.

“An autobiography that makes compelling reading... Eban’s words and deeds derive from his commitment to the principle of partition [of ancient Palestine]... Eban’s testament is not only elegant, but timely.” — James Chace, The New York Times

“A ‘compelling’ and well-written autobiography by the former foreign minister of Israel that ‘dramatizes the debates within the Zionist movement that has characterized the modern history of Israel.’” — The New York Times

“This personal story is an informal and informative history of Israel's diplomacy since before the birth of the state and also includes a mixture of philosophic reflection and views on personalities and politics, all presented in Eban's well-known felicitous style.” — John C. Campbell, Foreign Affairs

“Eban's engrossing autobiography tells us a great deal about both the author and his political activities on behalf of Israel in the world arena... Impeccably written... Eban's autobiography is an important political document and personal testimonial.” — Kirkus Reviews

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About the author

Abba Eban (1915-2002) was born to Lithuanian Jews in Cape Town, South Africa and named Aubrey Solomon. His father died when he was seven month old and his mother Alida Sacks moved to Britain where she remarried. In 1938, Eban graduated with honors from Queens’ College, Cambridge and began teaching Arabic, Persian and Hebrew literature at the university. During World War II, Eban worked in Cairo as a translator and censor for the British army. There he met Shoshana (Suzy) Ambache, the daughter of a Jewish businessman from Palestine, whom he married. The couple settled in Palestine where Eban worked for the British until he joined the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

At 33, he became Israel’s first permanent representative at the UN and then Israel’s ambassador to the US. He served as a Labor member of the Knesset, and as Israel’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister. A prolific lecturer and author, he wrote several books, including My people: the story of the JewsMy country: the story of modern IsraelHeritage: civilization and the JewsAbba Eban: An Autobiography andThe new diplomacy: international affairs in the modern age.

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Additional Information

Plunkett Lake Press
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Published on
Jul 31, 2019
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Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Biography & Autobiography / Political
History / Middle East / Israel & Palestine
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Content Protection
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Eligible for Family Library

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Voice of Israel is a collection of Abba Eban’s speeches before the United Nations’ Security Council and General Assembly, at universities and other venues between 1948 and 1968. Eban addresses Israel’s position on security in the Middle East, the Arab refugee problem, Jerusalem and the Holy Places, freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal and the Straights of Tiran, border clashes, American-Israel relations and the Six-Day War.

“The Ambassador sounds a note of fierce and joyous pride in the achievements of Israel... The texts show Mr. Eban’s equal facility with the majestic phrase, the mild word and the blunt rejoinder... It need not be insisted that Mr. Eban is the oratorical equal of the incomparable Sir Winston [Churchill].” — Hal Lehrman, The New York Times

“For almost two generations, Abba Eban was Israel's voice — its messenger to the high and mighty among the nations as well as to the Jewish people all over the world. Since he first appeared at the side of Dr. Chaim Weizmann in the late 1940’s during the struggle for Jewish statehood and sovereignty, few people could articulate the Zionist and later the Israeli case with comparable eloquence and conviction.

With his Churchillian prose and almost Shakespearean cadences, his mellifluous phrases and sonorous voice carried for decades a message of hope from a people that could have lost all hope and trust in humanity after the horrors of World War II. As Ambassador to the United States and the UN, and later as Foreign Minister, he represented an Israel with which the world's liberal imagination could identify.

Larger and more powerful nations were envious of so powerful a spokesman, and his speeches became textbook models for statesmen and diplomats in distant lands. His books — which he found time to write despite the hectic demands of diplomacy — were a unique combination of enormous erudition and crystalline clarity. His scholarly training and rhetorical gifts supplemented each other in a rare fashion. Rarely has a small country been represented by a statesman of such world stature: only Thomas Masaryk and Jan Smuts come to mind to compare with him.

He was a true patriot, in the old-fashioned sense of the word: proud of his people, but never ethno-centric; a man of the world, but deeply embedded in Jewish cultural heritage; focused on the plights and tribulations of the Jewish people, but never losing the universal horizon of mankind. In short, he was a modern Jew in the best sense of the word.” — Shlomo Avineri

Includes 204 photos, plans and maps illustrating The Holocaust

This is the story of No. 22483, who had been shipped from Belgium to Buchenwald. This is an account of what No. 22483 saw and felt during his calvary from Antwerp to the Malin distribution camp in France and from there to the extermination camp of Buchenwald.

To say that this book contains the scenes of a twentieth-century Inferno may sound commonplace. Yet, every page of this book reminds one of Dante’s Inferno, with one exception: the Inferno the author writes about consumed the lives not of the sinful whom divine justice cast into the immortality of suffering.
This Inferno was thronged by millions, many of whom were babies and little children, mothers and young women who had hoped to become mothers. It was thronged with people who deserved their fates because they were men in the sense that God meant them to be. They were in Inferno because they were strong men and brave, the real heroes of our days. They were doomed because the Nazi super-race set up a different scale of values which regarded heroism as the greatest of sins and considered depravity the greatest of virtues. Reading this book one feels that the titanic Dante himself would have been staggered by the demented criminality the judges of the just displayed.

This is the story of No. 22483 of Buchenwald, one of the millions who were doomed and one of the few who escaped. Throughout, the writing is poignant, vibrant with humanity, a cry “de profundis” and a vow that it must never happen again. This book should be long remembered.
An Inmate Who Escaped Tells The Day-To-Day Facts Of One Year Of His Torturous Experiences.

Jankiel Wiernik was a Jewish property manager in Warsaw when the Nazis invaded Poland and was forced into the ghetto in 1940. Despite surviving the horrors of the ghetto at the advanced age of 52, he was sent to a fate worse than death at the notorious death camp at Treblinka, which he immortalized in his memoirs.

“On his arrival at Treblinka aboard the Holocaust train from Warsaw, Wiernik was selected to work rather than be immediately killed. Wiernik’s first job with the Sonderkommando required him to drag corpses from the gas chambers to mass graves. Wienik was traumatized by his experiences. He later wrote in his book: “It often happened that an arm or a leg fell off when we tied straps around them in order to drag the bodies away.” He remembered the horrors of the enormous pyres, where “10,000 to 12,000 corpses were cremated at one time.” He wrote: “The bodies of women were used for kindling” while Germans “toasted the scene with brandy and with the choicest liqueurs, ate, caroused and had a great time warming themselves by the fire.” Wiernik described small children awaiting so long in the cold for their turn in the gas chambers that “their feet froze and stuck to the icy ground” and noted one guard who would “frequently snatch a child from the woman’s arms and either tear the child in half or grab it by the legs, smash its head against a wall and throw the body away.” At other times “children were snatched from their mothers’ arms and tossed into the flames alive.”

“Wiernik escaped Treblinka during the revolt of the prisoners on “a sizzling hot day” of August 2, 1943. A shot fired into the air signalled that the revolt was on. Wiernik wrote that he “grabbed some guns” and, after spotting an opportunity to make a break for the woods, an axe...”
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