Abba Eban

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

Abba Eban (February 2, 1915 - November 16, 2002) was an Israeli diplomat, politician and author. He was born Aubrey Solomon Eban in South Africa but was educated in England.


  • History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.
    • Speech in London (16 December 1970); as quoted in The Times [London] (17 December 1970) and in Great Jewish Quotations (1996) by Alfred J. Kolatch, p. 115
  • The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
  • If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.


  • A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.
  • It's not that Governments are constitutionally incapable of making the right decision, it's that they only do so as a matter of last resort.
  • His ignorance is encyclopedic
  • People in our country and in many countries ask: what is the use of a United Nations presence if it is in effect an umbrella which is taken away as soon as it begins to rain?
  • When the Council discusses what is to happen after the cease-fire, we hear many formulas: back to 1956, back to 1948--I understand our neighbors would wish to turn the clock back to 1947. The fact is, however, that most clocks move forward and not backward, and this, I think, should be the case with the clock of Middle Eastern peace--not backward to belligerency, but forward to peace.
  • I think that this is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.
  • They use the U.N. not as an instrument for solving conflicts, but an arena for waging them.
  • Israel is not an aviary.
  • Israel was and is breathing only with a single lung.
  • Lest Arab governments be tempted out of sheer routine to rush into impulsive rejection, let me suggest that tragedy is not what men suffer but what they miss.
  • The Jews are the living embodiment of the minority, the constant reminder of what duties societies owe their minorities, whoever they might be.
  • Time and again these governments have rejected proposals today-and longed for them tomorrow.
  • When I was first here, we had the advantages of the underdog. Now we have the disadvantages of the overdog.
  • When all else fails, men turn to reason.
  • ".. Israel is the product of the most sustained historic tenacity which the ages recall. The state of Israel is on immutable part of the international landscape. To plan the future, without it is to build delusions on sand..." (The United Nations, 3 July 1948)
  • This refugee problem has been artificially maintained for political motives. Recent years have seen great expansion of Middle East economies, but the Arab governments have so far stopped the refugees from sharing this. The vast Arab world could find home for a million refugees. Speaking to the UN in 1958

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