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In Defense of Israel
Cover of In Defense of Israel
In Defense of Israel
A Memoir of a Political Life
Borrow Borrow

The revealing memoir of one of Israeli's most respected statesmen.

Moshe Arens is one of the last surviving members of the founding generation of Israelis. He is a political insider who has worked with every Israeli prime minister from Menachem Begin to Benjamin Netanyahu, serving in a variety of important positions, including foreign minister and defense minister.

He has also enjoyed an exceptionally close life-long relationship with the United States: he attended high school in New York and colleges in Massachusetts and California, married an American, and served as Israel's ambassador to the United States.

In this memoir, Arens recounts his early role in the birth of Israel and developing Israel's aerospace industry, followed by a long and distinguished political career that included service at the very top of Israel's government for the better part of three decades. Arens advocated relentlessly throughout his political career for his vision of an Israel strong enough to withstand all challenges in its volatile neighborhood.

In Defense of Israel vividly recounts the many battles Arens fought in the political arena, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The latter included his strong opposition to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank—an action that led to the takeover of Gaza by Hamas.

Anyone interested in Israel's place within the contemporary Middle East, including Israel's relationship with the United States, will find this memoir informative, even eye-opening, and often provocative.

The revealing memoir of one of Israeli's most respected statesmen.

Moshe Arens is one of the last surviving members of the founding generation of Israelis. He is a political insider who has worked with every Israeli prime minister from Menachem Begin to Benjamin Netanyahu, serving in a variety of important positions, including foreign minister and defense minister.

He has also enjoyed an exceptionally close life-long relationship with the United States: he attended high school in New York and colleges in Massachusetts and California, married an American, and served as Israel's ambassador to the United States.

In this memoir, Arens recounts his early role in the birth of Israel and developing Israel's aerospace industry, followed by a long and distinguished political career that included service at the very top of Israel's government for the better part of three decades. Arens advocated relentlessly throughout his political career for his vision of an Israel strong enough to withstand all challenges in its volatile neighborhood.

In Defense of Israel vividly recounts the many battles Arens fought in the political arena, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The latter included his strong opposition to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank—an action that led to the takeover of Gaza by Hamas.

Anyone interested in Israel's place within the contemporary Middle East, including Israel's relationship with the United States, will find this memoir informative, even eye-opening, and often provocative.

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    Chapter One: Rumbula

    On November 30, 1941 the first column composed of elderly men, women, and children, accompanied by fifty guards, was marched out of the Riga ghetto at 6 a.m. It was a cold winter morning, 7 degrees below freezing. The previous evening there had been a light snowfall. Not everyone could keep up with the pace set by the guards and the column began stretching out, the oldest and weakest falling behind. Anyone falling out or stopping to rest was shot on the spot by the guards. Along the path traversed by the column could now be seen the dead and the wounded. Spots of the victims' blood began to cover the snow.

    Two days earlier the able bodied men in the ghetto had been ordered into a four-block enclosure cordoned off by barbed wire, leaving the women, children, the elderly and the infirm in the remaining ghetto area. It was from among them that a group had now been formed into columns and was being marched in the direction of Rumbula.

    It was ten kilometers from the ghetto to the execution site chosen by the Germans on the edge of Rumbula forest. The first column arrived at Rumbula after three hours. The people were ordered to undress and deposit their clothing and valuables in designated locations. They were then, dressed only in their underwear, led to the pits that had previously been prepared by Russian prisoners of war. Then, in single file, ten at a time they were ordered into the pits where they were shot, falling onto the bodies of those who had preceded them, many of them still alive.

    15,000 were killed on that murderous day, to be followed by another 10,000 Jews from the Riga ghetto to be killed at Rumbula eight days later. The executions had been planned and overseen by Friedrich Jeckeln, commander of the German SS Einsatzgruppe A, one of the Einsatzgruppen that followed the German army as it advanced into Soviet Russia, with the mission of killing the Jews in the areas that had fallen under German control.

    I was not there that day, although I might have been, together with my mother and younger sister. We were saved the fate of the Jewish community of Riga, among them many of my friends and schoolmates, because my father Tevye, an enterprising industrialist, was in New York together with my older brother when World War II broke out and, concerned for our fate in war-torn Europe, cabled us to join him immediately in America. So on September 7th, 1939, seven days after the German invasion of Poland, the Baltic countries as yet untouched by the war, we took a flight from Riga to Stockholm, and in the Swedish port of Goteborg boarded the SS Drotningholm for our journey to New York, landing there in late September.

    On that bloody day, November 30, 1941 I was attending George Washington High School in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, completely unaware of what was happening that day in Riga, the city in which I grew up. It was only some years later, as the dimensions of the Holocaust became apparent, and details of the killings were published, did I learn of the fate of the Jewish community in Riga. And since then, the scenes of the murders committed at Rumbula have been in my thoughts, almost as if I had been there. Hardly a day goes by that these thoughts do not enter my mind, accompanied by a feeling that a special obligation was imposed on me, as a survivor of the Holocaust. The German murder machine had also been directed at me and my whole family, and our good fortune had been to leave while there was still time. I have attempted to focus on that obligation for most of my life. I felt that that obligation was for me to do whatever I could to contribute to the security and safety of my people,...

Table of Contents-
  • Contents

    Preface

    1. Rumbula

    2. Betar

    3. The Irgun

    4. From Ramat Raziel to M'vo'ot Betar

    5. Engineer

    6. Politics

    7. Ambassador

    8. Defense Minister

    9. National Unity Government

    10. Foreign Minister

    11. Defense Minister Again

    12. Researching the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

    Epilogue

    Index

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A Memoir of a Political Life
Moshe Arens
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