By SIMONE COHEN SCOTT
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!
Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive
By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.
But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.
Our New Jewish Reality
By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.
Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead
Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.
To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333