Moshe Arens

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Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens.jpg
Date of birth (1925-12-27) 27 December 1925 (age 92)
Place of birthKaunas, Lithuania
Year of aliyah1948
Knessets8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15
Faction represented in Knesset
Ministerial roles
1983–1984Minister of Defense
1984–1988Minister without Portfolio
1988–1990Minister of Foreign Affairs
1990–1992Minister of Defense
1999Minister of Defense

Moshe Arens (Hebrew: משה ארנס‬; born 27 December 1925) is an Israeli aeronautical engineer, researcher and former diplomat and Likud politician. A member of the Knesset between 1973 and 1992 and again from 1999 until 2003, he served as Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Arens has also served as the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and was a professor at the Technion in Haifa.


Moshe Arens was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, to a Jewish family. His father was an industrialist and his mother was a dentist. When he was a year old, his family moved to Riga, Latvia. where he attended elementary school. In 1939, Arens and his family immigrated to the United States, where his father had business interests. The family settled in New York City, where Arens attended George Washington High School.

As a youth, Arens was a leader in the Betar youth movement. During World War II, Arens served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a technical sergeant. Following the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948, Arens moved to the new State of Israel and joined the Irgun, despite the opposition of his father. He was sent to North Africa (mostly Morocco and Algeria) and Europe to help local Jewish communities establish self-defense groups. In March 1949, he returned to Israel, and became a founding member of the Herut party, which had grown out of the Irgun. After being denied a job in Israel's military industries, he began working as an engineer for an American company dealing in designing water systems for Tel Aviv.

In 1951, he returned to the United States, and studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and aeronautical engineering at the California Institute of Technology where he was a student of Qian Xuesen, then worked for a time in the aircraft industry. He returned to Israel in 1957, and became professor of aeronautics at the Technion, serving in this position until 1962.[1][2][3][4] From 1962 until 1971 he was a Deputy Director General at Israel Aircraft Industries, where he was in charge of most major development projects, including the Kfir fighter jet project.

While living in the United States, Arens married Muriel F. Eisenberg from New York City, and she moved to Israel with him. The couple had four children, two boys and two girls; Yigal, Aliza, Raanan, and Rut.[2] Arens is chairman of the International Board of Governors of the Ariel University Center of Samaria and writes for Haaretz.[3] In 1971, Arens won the Israel Defense Prize.

Political career[edit]

After the Yom Kippur War he entered politics and was elected to the Knesset as a member of Likud in the 1973 elections. After being re-elected in 1977, he became chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He voted against the Camp David Accords and the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. In 1980, Prime Minister Menachem Begin offered Arens the post of Minister of Defense, but he turned it down due to his disagreement over the terms of the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. Arens did not oppose peace with Egypt, but was opposed to certain aspects of the treaty, and thus did not want to have to oversee Israel's evacuation from the Sinai.[2]

He was re-elected again in 1981, but resigned from the Knesset on 19 January 1982 when appointed ambassador to the United States. At this point, he brought his young protégé, Benjamin Netanyahu, then 32, to work for him in Washington. He returned to Israel in February 1983 after being appointed Minister of Defense, replacing Ariel Sharon, who had been forced out of office following the Kahan Commission's report on the Sabra and Shatila massacre. He was re-elected in 1984, but was only appointed Minister without Portfolio. After another re-election in 1988 he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs (with Netanyahu his deputy), and in 1990 returned to the Defense portfolio.

After Likud lost the 1992 elections, Arens retired from politics. He returned in 1999, however, to challenge Binyamin Netanyahu for the Likud leadership. Although he failed in his challenge, winning only 18% of the vote, Netanyahu appointed him Minister of Defense, replacing Yitzhak Mordechai, who had left Likud to establish the Centre Party. Although Arens returned to the Knesset after the 1999 elections, Likud lost the elections and he left the cabinet. He lost his seat for the final time in 2003.

Arens questioned the wisdom of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Israeli procurement, given the neglected state of Israeli ground forces.[5] In an article for Fathom Journal, Arens stated that he was a critic of unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, accusing its proponents of suffering from "unilateral withdrawal syndrome".[6]

Historical research[edit]

After retiring from the government, he devoted himself to researching and commemorating the story of the Jewish Military Union (ŻZW), which fought alongside the better known Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB) in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Arens is the author of a number of articles on the revolt as well as a book, Flags over the Warsaw Ghetto, which appeared in Hebrew, Polish and English.[7]


  1. ^ Moshe Arens: Particulars Knesset website
  3. ^ a b "Haaretz writers". Haaretz. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Ginsburg, Mitch (29 October 2014). "Israel to buy second squadron of stealth F-35 jets". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Head to head: Moshe Arens and Ami Ayalon discuss coordinated unilateralism". Retrieved 2016-07-11.
  7. ^ See Dariusz Libionka & Laurence Weinbaum, "Review of Flags over the Warsaw Ghetto" Jewish Political Studies Review 23: 3-4 (Fall 2011)

External links[edit]