Remembering Moshe Arens: Statesman, Engineer, Historian, and Father of the Israeli Aeronautics Industry

Moshe Arens, whose distinguished career in Israeli public life included serving three times as defense minister, as well as ambassador to the U.S. and other important positions, died yesterday at the age of ninety-three. Born in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas, Arens moved with his family to Riga, Latvia when he was two years old, and came to America in 1939. Late in his life he was known for his clear-eyed and principled commentary on Israeli political and strategic affairs. A review of his memoir can be read here. Haviv Rettig Gur describes Arens’s remarkable life:

[Arens] served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in World War II, then immigrated to Palestine and joined the right-wing Irgun paramilitary group, which immediately sent him to North Africa to help organize Jewish communities seeking to come to the Land of Israel. He returned in 1949 and soon became a key member of the nascent Ḥerut party, the progenitor of today’s Likud.

Between 1951 and 1957, he studied aeronautical engineering at MIT and Caltech in the U.S., then returned to Israel to teach in the Technion—Israel’s most prestigious technical college. He earned a tenured professorship there by 1961, at just thirty-six years old. In 1962, he was appointed deputy head of Israel Aircraft Industries, a position he held until 1971 and in which he helped direct Israel’s major indigenous fighter-jet project, the Kfir, or “young lion,” as well as Israel’s first indigenous cargo plane, the Arava, or “willow,” which took its first flight in 1969. . . .

Arens had been a key mentor for an ambitious young Benjamin Netanyahu, taking him to the Washington embassy in 1982, then backing him for UN ambassador in 1984 and deputy minister in the foreign ministry in 1988—Netanyahu’s first significant public-service positions. . . .

He had opposed Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza, suggesting instead that Palestinians could receive Israeli citizenship as part of a binational state. He also opposed the nation-state law and advocated full equality and better integration for Israel’s minorities. . . . After leaving politics, Arens researched and published a book on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Flags Over the Warsaw Ghetto.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Israeli technology, Likud, Moshe Arens, Technion

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict