Abba Eban, former israeli foreign minister, israel's first public affairs professional, dies in israel. Israel mourns the loss of abba eban, israel's modern orator.

Abba Eban
Father of Israeli Diplomacy

Abba Eban was the face and voice of Israel as the small State took her first steps into the international arena. His ability to communicate and motivate in a warm and enlightened manner won the hearts and minds of millions. This brilliant orator, Israel's first modern governmental public affairs professional, served as diplomat, government minister and Member of Knesset.
As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he sought to consolidate Israel’s relations with the United States and secure association with the European Economic Community. Before and after the Six-Day War, he led Israel in its political struggle in the UN.

Abba Eban's potent public affairs skills were not fully utilized by the Israeli establishment in his latter days. He was discarded not for his potent assets, but rather for the severe lack of insight and appreciation for professional public affairs by the many bureaucrats who have and continue to work in Israeli public office. Eban received the Israel Prize in 2001, but this award by the Israeli establishment was too little, too late for this truly talented and distinguished man.
That Eban was not put to creative work for the State until his last day, was both a personal tragedy for this Israeli legend and even more so for all Israelis who today suffer from a negative image in many areas of the globe. We were lucky - so lucky to have had Eban represent us to the world under Ben-Gurion.
May Eban the man and Eban the diplomat serve as a true inspiration to future Israeli governmental officials and diplomats as to the meaning of successful and professional public affairs.

"History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives."

- Abba Eban

Political information officer for the Jewish Agency in London

Liaison officer of the Jewish Agency with the UN Special Committee on Palestine and a member of the Jewish Agency delegation to the UN General Assembly

Representative to the UN

Permanent representative to the UN

Ambassador to Washington and permanent representative to the UN

Abba Eban with US President Harry Truman and Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion

Vice President of the UN General Assembly

President of the Weizmann Institute of Science

Elected to the Knesset

Minister without Portfolio

Minister of Education and Culture

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Guest professor at Columbia University

Chairman of the Board of Governors of Beit Berl

Member of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security

Chairman of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security

The Honorable Henry Kissinger (center) was guest of honor at the official opening of the
Abba Eban Centre for Israeli Diplomacy. Ambassador Eban stands to his left and Hebrew University
President Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund to his right.

Abba Eban was a member of the American Academy of Sciences. His books include Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, Promised Land, My Country: The Story of Modern Israel, Abba Eban, Voice of Israel, The Tide of Nationalism, My People, the New Diplomacy, Maze of Justice, Personal Witness, and, in 1998, Diplomacy for the Next Century.

My first exposure to Abba Eban, was when he addressed the United Nations after Israel was attacked during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. I was so impressed with this brilliant man, I wondered where Israel was hiding him all this time. His motivating speech was part of the reason that I volunteered to leave the US for Israel during that war.

- Joel Leyden, Leyden Communications (Israel)

He was chief consultant and narrator of the nine-part television program Heritage, and editor-in-chief and narrator of the five-part television series Personal Witness: A Nation is Born.
He completed The Brink of Peace, a film on the Middle East peace process for the PBS television network in the U.S.

The tall, heavy-jowled Eban spoke 10 languages with an academic bearing and was usually seen in public in three-piece suits, contrasting with the open-shirted, sunburned Israeli pioneers, many of them ex-military commanders, who led the country through its first half-century.
Widely admired abroad, Eban never really took off at home, spending his last years in the political wilderness.

The following is the eulogy delivered at Abba Eban's funeral on November 18 by his nephew Isaac Herzog.

Dear Uncle Aubrey,

With the permission of Aunt Suzy, your life-long partner and companion of 55 years, your beloved son Eli and your daughter Gila, grandchildren Omri and Yael and the whole family, I wish to bid you farewell. An exemplary figure such as yourself, admired in Israel and throughout the world, also has a personal, private, family circle which was always part of your life and went with you the whole way.

You were called to the flag at a very young age and since then you were at the national and international forefront for decades. For all those years a loving and supportive family stood beside you, led by Suzy, who trod with you on your wondrous journey, with infinite support and love. Your personal and public lives were one. Saturday afternoon family get-togethers were always fascinating affairs, journeys through history, politics, people and culture.

A few months ago you were deeply moved when I showed you a passage from the late prime minister Moshe Sharett's diary published this year. He described with raw emotion how on the eve of the Black Sabbath of 1946, a prodigy such as yourself agreed, encouraged by your young wife, to join the political leadership of the Jewish Agency - the emerging Foreign Ministry.

You explained to me you were leaving a promising and brilliant academic career for a noble cause, and since then your life was marked with achievements and peaks that few have reached in the generation of the founding fathers.

Dear Aubrey, if I had to characterize what we all got from you, besides your rare, singular contribution to the rebuilding of the Israeli nation in its land, described here by all of my predecessors, I would sum it up in one word: "culture."

You were a man of culture - the culture in your lifestyle, both public and personal, was real culture in the full sense of the word. You treated people with fairness, integrity and honesty. You respected anyone who was different and honored the minorities in Israel. You respected enemy and adversary and consistently reached out to them. You treated the elevated and the destitute with the same dignity. You exuded culture to all your listeners throughout the world. You walked the paths of world diplomacy, politics, academia and media as a man of culture. You were a man of style and benevolence, with boundless erudition and a tremendous and rare sense of humor, including about yourself. A meeting with you was a rare experience of humor, warmth and wisdom, or in a word, culture. Real culture.

Yes, even the one and only Abba Eban knew how to play with his grandchildren on the carpet, and to be thrilled by his children's achievements and successes in the world of music - a world of culture in its own right, which he loved and cherished, and he was so proud of Suzy's tremendous achievements. We, in your warm home, will always remember you as a considerate and loving husband, father and grandfather, as our big and special Uncle Abba.

May your soul, brimming with achievements and culture, rest in eternal peace.

The writer served as cabinet secretary in the Barak government.

Abba Eban died in Israel on November 17, 2002.

The country mourns his loss.