The United Nations and the international community, 1967

A primary source by Israel Goldstein

Israel Goldstein to John D. Buchanan, September 13, 1967. (Gilder Lehrman CollecIn this 1967 letter, Dr. Israel Goldstein, a prominent American rabbi and Zionist, comments on the United Nations as a peacekeeping organization. After World War II, Goldstein, with other rabbis, had lobbied members of the newly formed United Nations for support for European Jews and the establishment of a Jewish state. Their efforts were successful when, in November 1947, the UN adopted a Declaration of Partition for dividing Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states.

In this letter, Goldstein looks back on the twenty years of “world peace” since the formation of Israel to determine the major factor keeping that peace. Conceding that the past twenty years “have been marked by continuous threats” to peace, Goldstein writes, “we have been spared a world war.” He points to the United Nations as the foremost factor in peace, writing that it “has probably made the chief contribution toward the avoidance of a major war during this period.”

A full transcript is available.

Excerpt

Although the past twenty years have been marked by continuous threats to world peace, we have been able to maintain a fitful peace with local interruptions in a number of places, but we have been spared a world war. It is therefore difficult to point to any special contribution to world peace during this period. On net analysis, however, I think that the United Nations, weak and faulty an instrument as it is, has probably made the chief contribution toward the avoidance of a major war during this period.

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