The Triumph and Tragedy of Abba Eban

Seventy-three years ago this week, Israel appointed a thirty-three-year-old former professor as its UN representative. The rest is history—and bears a lesson for today.

May 20, 2021 | Rick Richman
About the author: Rick Richman is a resident scholar at American Jewish University and a frequent contributor to Mosaic. He is the author of Racing Against History: The 1940 Campaign for a Jewish Army to Fight Hitler (Encounter Books, 2018).

Abba Eban at a press conference in September 1970. Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images.

On May 21, 1948—a week after its Declaration of Independence, as it fought an invasion from five Arab armies—Israel designated a thirty-three-year-old scholar of Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian literature named Aubrey (“Abba”) Eban as its UN representative. He was the youngest representative there.

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