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Moshe Arens z’l was a favourite of mine

the late Moshe Arens, who passed away Jan. 7

Jerusalem, January 18th, 2019
Moshe Arens passed away this month on January 7. Over the years I heard talks by  Arens three times.. The first occasion was years ago at one of our excellent forums in Winnipeg.

The second, in 2013, was here in Jerusalem at the A.A.C.I. (Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel), where he discussed his book “Flags Over the Warsaw Ghetto”. I reported on that talk for this paper, and subsequently reviewed the book as well. That evening, in the process of discussing the book, he opened up considerably about who he was as a person. The audience knew, of course, of his illustrious career in the Knesset, serving from 1973 to 1992 and again from 1999 until 2003. Over those years he had held key positions: Ambassador to the United States, Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense three separate times. – all this, in addition to his earlier career in industry and academia.
During the Q & A, someone in the audience asked him if he had belonged to a youth program growing up. His answer was “BETAR”, the Jewish youth group best known for its association with Zev Jabotinsky, and which was loosely modeled after the Jewish legions which fought with the British forces during World War I. (The name BETAR is an acronym formed from the name Joseph Trumpeldor, a founder and one of the heroes of those legions.)

By the time Arens was born in 1925 in Lithuania, the organization had branches throughout Eastern Europe. He became a leader in the movement, no doubt carrying his involvement over to the United States where he emigrated with his family at age 14. In World War II, he served in the United States Army. By 1948 he had moved to Israel and was serving in the War of Independence with Etzel, (an acronym for the Irgun), Jabotinsky again being one of its founders. He returned to the States long enough to earn an engineering degree from M.I.T, then to study aeronautical engineering at Caltech.
It was finally, in 2016, around Arens 90th birthday, when he spoke at Jerusalem’s International Rotary Club, that I realized the kind of man he really was. He spoke that day about what was probably the biggest disappointment of his entire life, the cancellation, in August 1987, of the Lavi jet fighter plane. The idea to build something like the Lavi grew out of the Six Day War. Throughout the years prior, and then during that war, supplier countries had been stalling or holding back sales and/or delivery of weaponry to Israel. (A manipulative device for sure, to make Israel knuckle under.) The ambitious solution was for Israel to develop its own arms industry. Furthermore, its needs were unique; no other country faced the specific topographical, existential, and geographical, considerations of Israel, particularly lack of strategic depth, personnel preservation, and range capability, meaning lack of refueling depots. It isn’t that Israel had been doing without these requirements; she invariably had to modify and adapt any weaponry she would receive.

A word here about ‘personnel preservation’: Every one knows that Israel values every single member of her fighting force. When a fellow has become a top notch pilot or gunner, or whatever, he is not easily replaced. It’s important to keep him alive. An example of this (I learned) is Israel’s Merkava tank, designed so that the crew is in back. In battles they are apt to lose the engine, but not the crew. Israelis have devised a way to do this without sacrificing vision capability. No other country has been attentive to that feature: Tank crews everywhere else are placed up front.
The design of the Lavi would have been excellent in every way. Uh….except for costs. Production facilities needed to be built. If 300 planes were produced, the cost per plane would have been quite reasonable (as costs go in the arms industry). But Israel didn’t need 300 planes. She needed a market for all the extra ones. Some were planned to go to the United States, as President Reagan was all for it – as was Congress which, in 1983, had passed the purchase. There were opportunities lining up for the Lavi to be a win/win for both countries. (Actually the States was fronting a lot of the money for the endeavour.) On 31 August 1987, the decision went to the Israeli Cabinet. The naysayers, in their presentation, based the cost on 80 planes, not 300. The vote on whether or not to go ahead was taken. Eleven were in favour, twelve were not. One vote.

I mentioned earlier that Arens was Defence Minister three different times. He enthusiastically supported the development of this innovative fighter plane. However, as it happened, between the critical years 1984 to 1990 the Defense Minister was Yitzchak Rabin, not Moshe Arens. Arens instead was Minister Without Portfolio, then Foreign Minister. Had he been the Defense Minister, it would have been a different story. The Washington Post, the next day, wrote: ‘The 61-year-old former Ambassador to the United States and Defense Minister responded to the narrow governmental decision not to build the plane by resigning from the Cabinet, saying he could not fulfill his ministerial position by supporting a decision he considers “a terrible mistake”.’
After Moshe Arens spoke to us at the Rotary Club, I approached him and we chatted a bit, making comparisons between the Lavi and the Canadian Avro Arrow, which was unceremoniously canceled back in 1959. Both were fighter planes. Both were state of the art. Both would have established their respective countries at the forefront of cutting edge aeronautic industrial technology. Both were dependent on forthcoming support from the United States. (Canada’s security concerns then, by the way, were Russian bombers flying over the country’s north.) Both decisions were crushing disappointments that left untold numbers of highly skilled technicians jobless, contributing to brain drain from the two countries. Some are of the opinion, too, that both cancellations were ultimately due to machinations from certain quarters in the United States.
Still today Israel needs to adapt the planes she purchases to suit her specific criteria. Persuading arms manufacturers to conform to those criteria is an uphill battle. The F-35s Israel recently purchased from the Americans have certain unacceptable weaknesses/deficiencies, and from what I understand, Israel is not being allowed to adapt them herself. It seems the adjustments, and they’re not negligible, need to be done in the States’ own facilities, by the States’ own personnel.

According to Wikipedia, as recently as 2013 Moshe Arens stated that if the project had not been canceled, the IAF “…would be operating the world’s most advanced fighter, upgraded over the years to incorporate operational experience and newer technology.” I have no doubt production of the Lavi would have become the ground floor of a solid aeronautical industry in Israel, and was what Moshe Arens, Betar leader cum aeronautical engineer, was all about. My opening remark to him that day, and I had a lump in my throat, had been a question: “How could you stand it? How could you go on after that, and handle not the pain of the loss to you, but the loss to the country?” He replied: “What can you do? How can you go on? You go on, that’s all.” Rest in Peace, Moshe Arens, rest in Peace!

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New website for Israelis interested in moving to Canada

By BERNIE BELLAN (May 21, 2024) A new website, titled “Orvrim to Canada” ( has been receiving hundreds of thousands of visits, according to Michal Harel, operator of the website.
In an email sent to Michal explained the reasons for her having started the website:
“In response to the October 7th events, a group of friends and I, all Israeli-Canadian immigrants, came together to launch a new website supporting Israelis relocating to Canada. “Our website,, offers a comprehensive platform featuring:

  • Step-by-step guides for starting the immigration process
  • Settlement support and guidance
  • Community connections and networking opportunities
  • Business relocation assistance and expert advice
  • Personal blog sharing immigrants’ experiences and insights

“With over 200,000 visitors and media coverage from prominent Israeli TV channels and newspapers, our website has already made a significant impact in many lives.”
A quick look at the website shows that it contains a wealth of information, almost all in Hebrew, but with an English version that gives an overview of what the website is all about.
The English version also contains a link to a Jerusalem Post story, published this past February, titled “Tired of war? Canada grants multi-year visas to Israelis” ( That story not only explains the requirements involved for anyone interested in moving to Canada from Israel, it gives a detailed breakdown of the costs one should expect to encounter.

(Updated May 28)

We contacted Ms. Harel to ask whether she’s aware whether there has been an increase in the number of Israelis deciding to emigrate from Israel since October 7. (We want to make clear that we’re not advocating for Israelis to emigrate; we’re simply wanting to learn more about emigration figures – and whether there has been a change in the number of Israelis wanting to leave the country.)
Ms. Harel referred us to a website titled “Globes”:
The website is in Hebrew, but we were able to translate it into English. There is a graph on the website showing both numbers of immigrants to Israel and emigrants.
The graph shows a fairly steady rate of emigration from 2015-2022, hovering in the 40,000 range, then in 2023 there’s a sudden increase in the number of emigrants to 60,000.
According to the website, the increase in emigrants is due more to a change in the methodology that Israel has been using to count immigrants and emigrants than it is to any sudden upsurge in emigration. (Apparently individuals who had formerly been living in Israel but who may have returned to Israel just once a year were being counted as having immigrated back to Israel. Now that they are no longer being counted as immigrants and instead are being treated as emigrants, the numbers have shifted radically.)
Yet, the website adds this warning: “The figures do not take into account the effects of the war, since it is still not possible to identify those who chose to emigrate following it. It is also difficult to estimate what Yalad Yom will produce – on the one hand, anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews and Israelis around the world reminds everyone where the Jewish home is. On the other hand, the bitter truth we discovered in October is that it was precisely in Israel, the safe fortress of the Jewish people, that a massacre took place reminding us of the horrors of the Holocaust. And if that’s not enough, the explosive social atmosphere and the difference in the state budget deficit, which will inevitably lead to a heavy burden of taxes and a reduction in public services, may convince Zionist Israelis that they don’t belong here.”
Thus, as much as many of us would be disappointed to learn that there is now an upsurge in Israelis wanting to move out of the country, once reliable figures begin to be produced for 2024, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that is the case – which helps to explain the tremendous popularity of Ms. Harel’s website.

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Message from a Palestinian in Gaza to protesters: “You’re hurting the Palestinian cause”

Protesters at McGill University

A very brave Palestinian who was willing to put his name to paper and write an article for Newsweek Magazine has exposed the utter hypocrisy of all those students – and others, who have been setting up encampments across the U.S. – and now Canada, too.

You can read the article at

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The Most Expensive Israeli Soccer Transfers

Eran Zahavi

Even if Israel isn’t known as a world soccer power, it has produced plenty of talented players who have made a living in top European leagues. On more than one occasion, an Israeli international has commanded a rather large transfer fee. But who are the most expensive players in Israel’s history? The answer could be a little surprising. We took a look back to find the most expensive Israeli soccer transfers of all time.

Tai Baribo

In 2023, Baribo made the move to MLS, signing with the Philadelphia Union. The reported fee was around $1.5 million, which is one of the highest transfer fees the Union has ever paid for a player.

Omer Atzili

Throughout his career, Atzili has played for a variety of clubs, including stops in Spain and Greece. In 2023, he joined Al Ain in the UAE for a transfer fee of $2.1 million.

Maor Buzaglo

Now retired, Buzaglo was briefly the holder of the richest transfer deal for an Israeli player. After a couple of successful seasons on loan, Maccabi Tel Aviv paid $2.7 million to rival Maccabi Haifa for Buzaglo in 2008.

Dia Saba

Saba made history in 2020 when he joined Al-Nasr, making him the first Israeli player to play for a club in the UAE. At the time, it was a big deal for relations between the two countries. Al-Nasr also paid an impressive $2.9 million transfer fee for the midfielder.

Tal Ben Haim

On multiple occasions, Ben Haim has been sold for more than $1 million. First, there was his move from Hapoel Tel Aviv to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2023 for close to $1.2 million. A few years later, Sparta Prague came calling for him, spending $3.1 million as a transfer fee for the winger.

Itay Shechter

During the prime of his career, Shechter was the type of player who warranted a seven-figure transfer fee. German club Kaiserslautern paid a little over $2.6 million in 2011 to bring Shechter to the Bundesliga from Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Daniel Peretz

When Peretz was sold to Bayern Munich, it wasn’t the most expensive deal involving an Israeli player, although it was arguably the most important. He became the first Israeli Jew to play at Bayern, which is one of the biggest clubs in the world. The transfer fee for Peretz paid by Bayern Munich to Maccabi Tel Aviv was around $5.4 million.

Oscar Gloukh

Gloukh is one of the best young Israeli players right now. He already has three international goals in a dozen appearances to his name. Somehow, Gloukh is already one of the most expensive players in Israel’s history. After coming up with Maccabi Tel Aviv, he moved to Austrian giant Red Bull Salzburg in 2023 for a transfer fee of close to $7.5 million. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him top that number one day.

Liel Abada

Abada has been a part of two huge transfer deals in his young career. In 2021, Scottish club Celtic paid $4.8 million to acquire him from Maccabi Petah Tikva. However, that number was topped in 2024 when Charlotte FC of MLS paid a fee of $8 million for Abada.

With Charlotte FC, Abada competes in North America’s top league, facing teams from both Mexico and Canada. Throughout North America, sports betting has taken off in recent years. That includes betting in Canada, where there is a large collection of trusted sports betting platforms.

Eran Zahavi

To date, Zahavi holds the record for the most expensive transfer fee paid for an Israeli player. It’s fitting for Israel’s former captain and all-time leading scorer. In 2016, Chinese club Guangzhou City paid $12.5 million to get Zahavi from Maccabi Tel Aviv. That record was nearly broken later that year when another Chinese club offered $20 million for Zahavi, who turned it down and stayed with Guangzhou City.

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