PM Netanyahu and President Rivlin attend the funeral of Moshe Arens..
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI/DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Former defense and foreign minister Moshe Arens was laid to rest in Savyon on Monday, with President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu among thousands who attended the funeral and who remembered him affectionately as a gentleman and Zionist true always to the principles of Jewish liberal-nationalism espoused by Ze’ev Jabotinsky.
Netanyahu, who Arens “discovered” and brought into politics by making him his deputy ambassador in Washington in the 1980’s, said he was parting from “Misha” – Arens’s nickname – “with the feelings of an orphaned son who lost his father.”
Netanyahu said that Arens would often quote the words of encouragement that Pawel Frenkel – a leader of Jabotinsky adherents who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and is the subject of one of Arens’s books – would use with his fighters: “We live as long as Jewish history continues to live on.”
“This is also my message to you, Misha, my soul mate, at this time of separation: ‘You will be among us, as long as Jewish history continues to live on,’” Netanyahu said.
In his eulogy, Netanyahu noted how Arens met Jabotinsky as a teenager in New York; how Arens worked together with his father; and how Arens came to a conference on counterterrorism he organized in the mid 1970s in the US, and three years later called him to be his deputy at the embassy in Washington.
“When I met him for the last time [a few weeks ago], we shook hands, but we did something we had not done for all the 45 years that I knew him – we hugged, hugged for a long time. On his deathbed, Misha, 93, talked to me about the future, about the past,” he said.
Arens’s “fingerprints” are to be found in all areas vital for the country’s existence as a sovereign state, Netanyahu said, briefly discussing his role in the development of the country’s military industries, his term as ambassador to the US, and his tenures as defense and foreign minister.
“There is no leader who met with Misha and did not respect him and look at him as he looked at them in return – at eye level,” he said.
Rivlin, who called Arens “our older brother,” and “teacher and guide to so many in the national-liberal camp,” said Arens was “one of the giants of the founding generation, a scientist and a statesman.”
Rivlin said that Arens was both a man of vision who had the “capacity to dream, and also “a man of action” who knew how to realize those dreams.
“Many people contributed to the State of Israel, but only a few changed its course. You were one of them,” he said.
Labor MK Nachman Shai, who served for a stint as Arens’s media adviser in the defense ministry, opened the funeral service by saying that Arens “leaves this world without a single enemy.”
“Your journey, Misha, comes to an end today,” Shai said. “Ninety-three fascinating years full of productivity. In all the great projects you took part in, you always saw the individual, the man behind the scenes, without whom there would be no achievements.”
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