Arens, Moshe

views updated


ARENS, MOSHE (1925– ), Israeli politician and aeronautical engineer; member of the Ninth to Twelfth and Fifteenth Knessets. Arens was born in Kovno, Lithuania. He grew up in Riga in Latvia, and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1939, serving in the U.S. Army and graduating from mit in engineering in 1947. He was Betar Commissioner in the U.S. in 1947–48, and immigrated to Israel in 1948. In the years 1948–49 he served as izl emissary in Europe and North Africa. In 1949–51 he was a member of moshav Mevo'ot Betar, after which he continued his studies for a master's degree in aeronautical engineering at the California Institute of Technology until 1954. In the years 1954–57 he was employed in the development of jet engines at the Curtis Wright company, and in 1958 returned to Israel and was appointed an assistant professor of aeronautical engineering at the Technion in Haifa. From 1962 to 1971 he served as deputy director general of the Israel Aircraft Industry, involved in the development of the Aravah and the Kfir aircraft. In 1971 he received the Israel Security award. In the years 1972–77 he served as the director of the Cybernetics Company.

Arens was elected to the Ninth Knesset in 1977 as a representative of *Herut, and in the years 1977–78 was chairman of the Herut Party Center. Until the beginning of the Tenth Knesset he served as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He voted against the 1978 Camp David Agreements and the 1979 Peace Treaty with Egypt. In 1982, during Operation Peace for Galilee, Arens served as ambassador to Washington. He was recalled to Jerusalem after Ariel *Sharon was forced to resign from the Ministry of Defense following the publication of the Kahan Commission report on the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and was appointed minister of defense. In the National Unity Government formed in 1984 he was appointed minister without portfolio, and following the rotation in the premiership in October 1986, when Yitzhak *Shamir became prime minister, replaced Ezer *Weizman as minister in charge of minority affairs. While his positions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict were always hawkish, with regards to the Arab citizens of Israel his positions were liberal. In September 1987 he resigned from the government in protest against the decision to discontinue the Lavi aircraft project for financial reasons, but returned to the government in April 1988. In the National Unity Government formed by Shamir in December 1988 Arens was appointed minister for foreign affairs, and in the government formed by Shamir in June 1990, after the Alignment left the government, was appointed once against minister of defense in place of Yitzhak *Rabin. Arens retired from politics following the defeat of the Likud in the elections to the Thirteenth Knesset and entered business. He was recalled by Prime Minister Binyamin *Netanyahu to the Ministry of Defense in January 1999, after Yitzhak Mordechai was forced to resign from the government, and remained in that post until Ehud *Barak formed his government in July of that year. Arens was reelected to the Fifteenth Knesset, serving in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He did not run for election to the Sixteenth Knesset. Among his writings are Optimum Staging of Cruising Aircraft (1959); Some Requirements for the Efficient Attainment of Range by Air-borne Vehicles (1959); and Broken Covenant (1995).


S. Merrill, Moshe Arens: Statesman and Scientist Speaks Out (1988).