In Defense of Israel: Moshe Arens
When will the strive end? When will Israel have its rightful place in the world without having to worry about attacks, terrorist or fighting to protect its people? Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Zionism has come to include the movement for the development of the State of Israel and the protection of the Jewish Nation in Israel through support for the Israel Defense Forces. Zionist means the national movement for the return of the Jewish People to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. Here is where our story begins as we meet the author at a young age joining the Zionist movement but first let’s flashback to the Rumbula. The dates were November 25 and 29 and the year 1941. Special Task Group 3 and one of many SS mobile death squads were operating behind the front lines. Five thousand people were killed and the author describes this horror as so many were thrown into coffins and dishonored. There were many victims and in the Rumbula Forest 9 miles south of Riga, capital and major city of the Baltic state of Lativa the first of two sets of even more horrific mass murders began. The second on December 8th. The Rumbula massacre was the biggest two-day Holocaust until Nazi Germany introduced extermination camps in Poland in 1942. The author then continues with his time in Betar and Irgun and continues with entering politics and the many positions he had in various government agencies. Deciding to enter politics was a huge commitment and not one that the author expected to do but he did in 1973 and he became part of the Knesset on the Likud Party list.
He shares his time in the service, going to MIT for engineering, graduation George Washington High School and then enlisting in the army and serving in the Engineers Corps. He returned to MIT and got his B.S. in Mechanical Engineer in 1947.
Throughout the entire memoir you the reader feels as if the author is speaking directly to the reader as he relates the events and his feelings based on his own viewpoints.
Holding many political positions put on the front lines when elected to the Knesset in 1973 as a member of the Finance Committee. He had many victories and in 1977 the Likud one he became the chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Defense Committee.
He explains the formation of the National Unity Government, Rabin’s desire to be defense Minister in the government that might have served as an obstacle to the formation of this Labor-Likud government and Arens would have to vacate his position. However, on September 9, the Knesset voted confidence in this government: Perez as Prime Minister, Shamir deputy and foreign minister and Rabin as Defense minister, Weizmann and Arens were both ministers without portfolios. He discusses the concerns about Lebanon in detail in this chapter and how as chairman of the secretariat he immersed himself into the preparations for the coming elections. The end results are described in detail the close of the chapter but I will add that it was up to Arens as Chairman of the Likud election campaign to being home a victory for the party, which he did. Appointed Foreign Minister under Shamir and then Defense Minister a third time by Benjamin Netanyahu in 1999, Arens career in politics spans over many decades and the impact of his work is still felt today. The final chapter is the compelling as I learned so much about the Warsaw Uprising, his role in researching it and the sacrifices made by so many young people.
I learned so much about Israel, how President Bush did not work with Arens in order to stop the attacks of the Scuds and the condescending way he often spoke with him and how Arens kept his composure and professionalism. Dealing with Cheney must have been a challenge but Israel’s 69-year history is compelling, interesting and in a few decades it has developed as the author states into a country able to defend itself with a dynamic economy growing at a rapid rate.
Flashbacking to the start of the book I remind readers how the fate of Israel hung in the balance when Arab armies invaded in May 1948. Victory seemed beyond reach but Israel was victorious. The great victory against the attacking Egyptians and Syrian armies during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 brought Egypt to the peace table and ended Arab plans to attack Israel. Terror against its population has occurred over the years and even in the present. The price for independence did not come without the loss of many lives. More than 23 thousand men and women gave their lives in defense of Israel. Will there ever be peace in the Middle East? Will it remain elusive?
The victory in the Yom Kippur War brought back memories that I learned about from my grandfather and my cousins who fought in that war. Israel’s prowess and economic vitality paved the way to progress towards peace with its Arab neighbors. Egypt’s President considers Israel as an ally, Saudi’s Rulers, feeling threatened by domineering Iran, recognize that Israel too is threatened by Iran and see room to cooperation. But, as we learn when we read in the news or hear on newscasts today, Israel still has many enemies seeking to destroy the country, the spirit of the people and foremost the one at the head of the list Iran. Knowing that they have nuclear weapon capability and the author shares what happened with Saddam Hussein, which brings back memories of how hard it was to deal with Bush during that time.
The author relates that because Israel’s military prowess and economic vitality has paved the way to progress and hopefully to peace with its Arab neighbors. There are many other conflicts and questions that still need to be addressed and two major roadblocks in resolving the conflicts: the first there is the question of the Palestinian partner, one able to conduct negotiations with Israel to end the conflict and implement the provision of an agreement. He explains this more in detail for the reader and the second roadblock to progress relates to Israel’s security after the establishment of a Palestinian state next door to Israel. The neighboring Palestinian State, if established must be capable of preventing violence against Israel emanating from its territory. He continues to explain the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordanian rulers and why they have endured.
He closes with statements about Republican and Democratic Presidents, U.S. attempts to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians. The questions still being asked when all if said and done is it possible that change in the region will unfold? Will it be possible to reach and accommodation with the Palestinian or will there be other solutions? “ The desire to arrive at a solution is understandable, but evidently not achievable.” A compelling, informative, straightforward and definitely great resource for anyone that wants to learn more about Moshe Arens, the history and struggles the nation of Israel faced in the past and in the present and he certainly and definitely speaks out IN DEFENSE OF ISRAEL.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine
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