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“Moshe Arens, an English-speaking US-educated aeronautical engineer who rose to become Israel’s three-time defense minister and mentored a young Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of his career, died on Monday at age 93.
Born in Kaunas, Lithuania in 1925, Arens moved with his family to Riga, Latvia in 1927, then to the US just before World War II in 1939.
He attended high school in the US, served in the US Army Corps of Engineers in WWII, then immigrated to Israel and joined the right-wing Irgun paramilitary group, which immediately sent him to North Africa to help organize Jewish communities seeking to immigrate to Israel. He returned to Israel in 1949 and soon became a key member of the nascent Herut party, the progenitor of today’s Likud.
Between 1951 and 1957, he studied aeronautical engineering at MIT and Caltech in the US, then returned to Israel to teach in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel’s most prestigious technical college. He earned a tenured professorship there by 1961, at just 36 years old. In 1962, he was appointed deputy head of Israel Aircraft Industries, a position he held until 1971 and in which he helped direct Israel’s major indigenous fighter-jet project, the Kfir, as well as Israel’s first indigenous cargo plane, the Arava, which took its first flight in 1969.”
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