Abba Eban

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Abba Eban (Hebrew: אבא אבן‎, born Aubrey Solomon Meir Eban 2 February 1915 - 17 November 2002) was an Israeli diplomat and politician.


Political career

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Eban moved to England at an early age. He was educated at St Olave's Grammar School, Southwark before studying Classics and Oriental languages at Queens' College, Cambridge where he achieved a triple first. As a child, he recalls being sent to his grandfather's house every weekend to study the Hebrew language and Biblical literature.[1] During his time at University and afterwards, Eban was highly involved in the Federation of Zionist Youth and was editor of its ideological journal "The Young Zionist". After graduating with high honours, he researched Arabic and Hebrew as a Fellow of Pembroke College from 1938–1939. At the outbreak of World War II, Eban went to work for Chaim Weizmann at the World Zionist Organization in London from December 1939. A few months later he joined the British Army as an intelligence officer, where he rose to the rank of major. He served as a liaison officer for the Allies to the Jewish Yishuv of Palestine. Drawing on his linguistic skills, in 1947 he translated from the original Arabic, Maze of Justice: Diary of a Country Prosecutor, a 1937 novel by Tawfiq al-Hakim.

Eban moved back to London briefly to work in the Jewish Agency's Information Department, from where he was posted to New York, where the General Assembly of the United Nations was considering the "Palestine Question". In 1947, he was appointed as a liaison officer to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, where he was successful in attaining approval for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab segments—Resolution 181. At this stage, he changed his name to the Hebrew word Abba (however it was seldom used informally), meaning "Father", as he could foresee himself as the father of the nation of Israel. Eban spent a decade at the United Nations, and also served as his country's ambassador to the United States at the same time. He was renowned for his oratorical skills. In the words of Henry Kissinger:

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