Eban, Abba (Aubrey) Solomon

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EBAN, ABBA (Aubrey ) SOLOMON (1915–2002), Israeli statesman, diplomat, and writer, member of the Fourth to Eleventh Knessets. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Eban was brought up in England. He studied Oriental languages and classics in Queens College at Cambridge University, where he was research fellow and lecturer in Arabic in 1938–40. Eban was noted for his mastery of several languages. As an undergraduate, he was a founder of the University Labor Society and became president of the Students' Union.

During World War ii Eban held the rank of major, serving on the staff of the British minister of state in Cairo from 1941. In 1942 he served as liaison officer on behalf of the Allied Command with the leadership of the Jewish yishuv in Palestine, and in 1944 as chief instructor in the Middle East Center for Arab Studies in Jerusalem, for the purpose of training Jewish volunteers. At the end of the war he took up residence in Jerusalem and in 1946 was appointed by the Jewish Agency political information officer in London, and the following year served as its liaison officer with unscop. After serving as a member of the Jewish Agency delegation to the un General Assembly, Eban was appointed representative of the newly established State of Israel to the un, and in the years 1949–59 as Israel's permanent delegate, serving in 1952 as deputy president of the General Assembly. In the un Eban was known for his eloquence and superb presentation of Israel's case in the face of Arab hostility. In 1950–59 he also served as Israeli ambassador to the United States. In 1958–66 Eban was president of the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot and initiated the International Rehovot Conferences on "Science in the Advancement of New States." In 1959 he was elected to the Fourth Knesset on the *Mapai list. He served as minister of education and culture in the years 1960–63, deputy prime minister in 1963–65, and minister for foreign affairs in 1966–74. As minister for foreign affairs, Eban sought to consolidate Israel's relations with the United States and to secure association status for Israel in the European Economic Community. In May 1967 he paid dramatic visits to Paris, London, and Washington in an effort to avert the outbreak of war. Throughout the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973 he led Israel's diplomatic campaigns in the un. Eban was reappointed minister for foreign affairs in the short-lived government formed by Golda *Meir after the Yom Kippur War and participated in the negotiations with Henry *Kissinger which led to the Disengagement Agreement with Syria on May 31, 1974. However, after Meir's resignation, following the publication of the *Agranat Commission report on the background to the outbreak of the war, he was not included in the government formed by Yitzhak *Rabin. Though continuing to serve in the Knesset, Eban started to teach at Haifa University and at Columbia University in the U.S. as a visiting professor. In September 1974 he was appointed chairman of the Board of Governors of Bet Berl, which was the ideological center of the Labor Party. In the Eleventh Knesset he served as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and as chairman of a subcommittee that dealt with the Pollard Affair. In the primaries held in the Central Committee of the Labor Party for a place in the party's list for the Twelfth Knesset, Eban failed to be elected. Eban then withdrew from the political arena and concentrated on the production and presentation of tv programs in the U.S. on Jewish tradition and the history of the State of Israel. His writings include Voice of Israel (reprinted speeches, 1957), The Tide of Nationalism (1959), The Final Solution: Reflections on the Tragedy of European Jewry (1961), Chaim WeizmannA Continuing Legacy (1962), My People: The Story of the Jews (1968), My Country: The Story of Modern Israel (1972), An Autobiography (1977), Heritage: Civilization and the Jews (1984), The New Diplomacy: International Affairs in the Modern Age (1983), Personal Witness: Israel Through My Eyes (1992), and Diplomacy of the Next Century (1998).

add. bibliography:

R. St. John, Eban (1972); A. Ron (ed.), Abba Even: Medina'i ve-Diplomat: Sefer le-Zikhro shel Sar ha-ḤuḤle-She'avar (2003).

[Edwin Samuel

Second Viscount Samuel /

Susan Hattis Rolef (2nd ed.)]