By Benjamin Netanyahu
The life story of my faithful teacher and close friend, the late Moshe (Misha) Arens, ended after he had the privilege of seeing Israel celebrate 70 years of independence. That national peak filled Misha’s heart with great satisfaction.
As one who followed our struggle for freedom, and even wrote glowing pages about our founding as a state, he was always astounded at the country’s achievements, which proved the justice of the Zionist vision. Misha was a vital leg in the Zionist relay race. He was raised on the theories of Revisionist thinker Ze’ev Jabotinsky and wanted to implement them.
I was happy to accept his invitation to join the Israeli Embassy delegation in Washington in 1982. Even before that, our two families had formed deep ties because of the help Misha gave my father, Professor Benzion Netanyahu, in his Zionist activity – and at the time I was aware of how privileged I was to continue that work. As Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. and as foreign minister, Misha was eloquent in representing our diplomatic positions.
In accordance with Jabotinsky’s theory on pressure, he waged an unflagging diplomatic battle for our vital interests. As defense minister, Misha strengthened the iron wall that defends us. His contribution to the development of Israel’s air defenses, as well as the steps he took to bolster its ground forces and homefront, stemmed from his correct appraisal of the dangers in the Middle East.
Misha also encountered struggles and disappointment. That is natural in a career of public service that spans more than four decades. He felt that the cancellation of the decision to develop the Lavi aircraft in Israel was a missed opportunity. In our in-depth discussions, I tried to convince him that when it came down to it, he had been very successful – our military might in the air, at sea, and on land; military intelligence and cyber capabilities, are the equivalent of an iron fist. Our enemies know that they will pay a heavy price for any attempt to attack us.
Misha was a great gentleman, a noble spirit, and, no less important, a truthful man.
In the name of the truth, he devoted himself to retelling the story of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. He could not rest at the fighters from the right-wing Betar movement being left out of the tale of the heroic stand against the Nazis. His exciting book “Flags over the Warsaw Ghetto” rights that wrong. Misha gave Pavel Frenkel and his Betar comrades the honor they deserved. They led the uprising along with Mordechai Anielewicz and his people, and set a path toward the future – a strong stance against those who seek to kill us, and ensuring our ability to defend ourselves.
Moshe Arens, the beloved Misha, was part of some of the decisive moment in the history of the new state of Israel. The personal, unique stamp he put on building sovereignty in the homeland will stay with us for generations to come.
May his memory be a blessing.
Benjamin Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of Israel.