At Funeral, ex-Israeli Defense Chief Moshe Arens Remembered as One of Few Who Influenced Nation's Path

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin deliver eulogies as former three-time defense minister, foreign minister and ambassador to Washington laid to rest

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left center) and President Reuven Rivlin (right center) attend Moshe Arens' funeral on January 8, 2018.
Ariel Hermoni / Defense Ministry

Hundreds of people attended the funeral Tuesday in Saviyon of former defense minister and ambassador to the United States Moshe Arens, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Netanyahu, who was Arens’ political protégé, eulogized Arens as “a great leader, guide and friend beloved of my soul.” Netanyahu said Arens would “live within us as long as Jewish history lives,” and that he felt “orphaned, as a son who has lost his father, in grief and tears mixed with pride at our shared path.”

Rivlin quoted at length from the anthem of the Betar movement, of which Arens was a leader as a young man, describing him as “an ideologue who never bent, a Zionist in every bone in his body. A man in the service of the people and never the other way around,” he said, adding that Arens had “walked among us like a king."

Rivlin said of the three-time defense minister, foreign minister, and ambassador to Washington: “Many contributed to the state, but few influenced its path. You were one of the few that did so. Not a warrior, not a general – a citizen with an engineering background, to whom the Defense Ministry was home.”

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Rivlin noted Arens’ contribution to Israel’s defense doctrine, in that “all his principles stemmed from one overriding principle, which was the basic belief that the State of Israel had to be Jewish and democratic and it was up to us to prove it.” The president added that Arens “believed that it is the state’s obligation to integrate its Arab citizens in the first place and that this obligation was more important than a diplomatic agreement.”

One of Arens’ grandchildren eulogized him by saying: “From a young age, people we met would make sure to tell us that our grandfather was a great man. As children, it wasn’t clear to us what this meant. For us you were Grandpa Moshe, and that was enough to make you great in our eyes. During your live we had the privilege of hearing about this from people, drawing a full picture of the special man you were in your ninth decade as well, but more than anything we learned that at the heart of every action stands a human being. You would look at people at eye level and give them the feeling that their work mattered...The grandchildren, all of us, grew in different directions and you were so proud of our achievements. We hope you knew how proud we were of you.”