Researcher: Asaf Siniver
The objective of this project is to complete a single-authored research monograph about the life of Abba Eban and his pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace. This project aims to provide a multi-level analysis of Middle East peacemaking through a substantive biography of Eban, Israel's foremost statesman. Eban is a fascinating, yet strangely neglected figure despite his long and distinguished career as ambassador and foreign minister and one of Israel’s founding fathers.
Born in 1915 in Capetown, South Africa, he grew up in London and was educated at Cambridge University. During the Second World War he served with British military intelligence in the Middle East, and at the end of the war he joined the Jewish Agency and fronted the campaign for Jewish statehood. In 1949 he became Israel's first ambassador to the United Nations and ambassador to the United States, positions which he held simultaneously until 1959. Upon his return to Israel he was elected to the Knesset, and until his retirement from political life in 1988 he served as foreign minister (1966-74), deputy prime minister, education minister, and chairman of the Knesset's committee on foreign affairs and defence. Since his retirement he dedicated his time to championing Arab-Israeli reconciliation by writing and lecturing at various universities across the world, until his death in 2002.
Project aims and objectives
The project aims to:
Significantly contribute to knowledge by accessing primary material which was not available at the time of Eban’s autobiography (1978), including declassified governmental records, Eban’s private papers, and interviews with former colleagues, interlocutors, and family members. This will provide a more updated and rounded narrative of the man and his times.
Engage the widest possible audience, in following the tradition of ‘life and times biographies’ by notable academics (such as Robert Skidelsky’s biography of Keynes and Arthur Schlesinger’s biography of John Kennedy). Whereas non-academic readers may not necessarily be interested in the intricacies of Middle East diplomacy, they may nevertheless be intrigued by the fascinating life of Eban, as the focal point of this project. This project is not bound by an academic discipline; instead it utilizes a biographical approach to tell an important story of one man’s journey through the turbulence and upheavals of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and his important role in shaping and guiding many of the Israeli left views and policies regarding the desirable solution to the conflict.
Examine the history of Arab-Israeli negotiations since the inception of the conflict in 1948, and the changing perspectives on both sides regarding its desirable and practical solutions.