The article examines the origins of the phrase "oom-shmoom" that has become emblematic of Israel's negative attitudes to the United Nations. The discussion is situated in the context of the competing foreign-policy schools of thought associated with David Ben-Gurion (activist, militant) and Moshe Sharett (diplomatic, moderate). It looks at examples from the 1950s illustrating the rhetorical uses that politicians made of the slogan in order to denigrate rivals for their presumed lack of toughness and inadequate concern for Israel's security needs. While much about Israel's foreign policy during its early years can be explained in terms the Ben-Gurion/ Sharett dichotomy, the differences between the Ben-Gurionists and the Sharettists regarding "oom-shmoom" were more often in the realm of rhetoric than in action and policy. In their day-to-day political decisions, both Ben-Gurion and Sharett showed a healthy respect for the UN and for the great powers which stood ready to back UN decisions.


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pp. 26-46
Launched on MUSE
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