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Safety Engineer

Aryeh Ehrlich

As Israel’s defense minister, one of his nicknames was “Mr. Security.” Decades later, he is still an authority on Israeli security and military affairs, but with his hands no longer tied by political constraints, Moshe Arens — who turned 90 last month — pulls no punches when the discussion turns to how Israel wins its wars but loses its battles.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

When Moshe Arens celebrated his 90th birthday at the end of December, it was a truly old-fashioned Israeli affair.

Surrounded by his many friends and supporters, the celebration was devoid of the pomp and fanfare that accompaniedPresidentShimonPeres’s 90th birthday bash in the summer of 2013 at the International Convention Center.

BillClintonand other celebrities were nowhere to be seen. Nor were the 3,000 VIPs from all over the world who came to fete Peres. There were no helium balloons. Neckties were scarce — a throwback to a bygone era where a tie symbolized American and European formality unsuited to Israelis’ brusque and unceremonious society.

Arens’s party was crowded, but with close friends and political comrades-in-arms — a generation of security chiefs, veterans of Israel’s aerospace industry and old-time Irgun buddies. They came for one reason: to show their affection and gratitude to a man who devoted his career to the safety and security of Israel’s citizens and who crafted an imposing posture of deterrence for the Jewish state that he is pained to see being steadily eroded.

But this was a night of celebration. Arens greeted his guests with his trademark humility and deadpan expression. He didn’t bat an eyelash when his most famous protégé,Prime MinisterNetanyahu, declared that if not for Arens, he would never have entered politics.

In that respect, Arens and Netanyahu were cut from the same cloth.

 

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