Diplomacy: Memorializing Shlomo Argov


Diplomacy: Memorializing Shlomo Argov

the PLO, Iran instead of Syria. The existential issues are the same. So here was this guy who's dead, and was

basically a quadriplegic for 21 years, coming through the speakers talking basically about today, 25 years ago. And

then there were his friends, comrades-in-arms, who were with him along the way, and are still alive and well,

reminiscing about him and talking about what happened in Israel since then. Then there was [IDC head] Prof. [Uriel]

Reichman and others who spoke about the current problems Israel faces and why this program is necessary. And

then there were the students who, 10 to 15 years from now, will be in key positions to make decisions that will impact

the future of this country. It was mind-blowing. Whatever else I'm going to achieve in life - I have four beautiful

children, and they're the most important things I could do in life, and I've done lots of business stuff - I know sitting

here today that this is going to be one of the more satisfying things I will ever do.

How was your connection with your father during the 21 years between the attack and his death?

What I learned from my father, I learned before he was hit. After he was hit, it was the worst of all possible

situations. He couldn't function, but he could still think. He couldn't move, but he could speak.

You served as a tank commander in the IDF, while today you're a successful American businessman. Do

you consider yourself Israeli or American?

I have two homes, here and in the United States. I'm a bit of a schizophrenic. When I'm there, I want to be here.

When I'm here, I want to be there. [Laughs] It's a strange place to be, but I feel at home in both places. I miss Israel

a great deal and I love being back here. I grew up here. After my military service I went to study in the States and

built a business career. But I maintained close ties to Israel, including business ties. My last company [Kollmorgen

Corp.] ended up purchasing an Israeli company called Servotronix, a software company that makes controls for high-

tech devices. It was a great acquisition and I ended up becoming extremely close to Dr. Ilan Cohen, who runs it. He

and I are still good friends. I'm also the chairman of the board of an Israel-based software company called Fundtech,

a banking software company. Dad didn't like the fact that Israeli diplomats are not always respected by the local

Jewish community where they served. He didn't like that, because he felt that if you want to criticize us [Israelis], you

must walk a mile in our shoes. Send your sons and daughters to the army. I share that partially. I think Israel is a

national home for all Jews, not just those who are here. That was the whole idea. Jews who live around the world

have the right to think of themselves as the "board of directors" of Israel, but not as the executive branch. If Israel

makes a decision, it can be right or wrong, and Jews around the world should have input, but they can't prescribe. If

you live in Brooklyn or Los Angeles, you're not in the same situation [as Israelis]. It's a balance.

What brought you to the IDC?

I brought this group of about 20 friends of mine - CEOs, venture capitalists, investors - over in 1999 expressly to see

Israel. I'm doing it again in March with a group of 25. I do it for one reason: to win the hearts and minds, to get

people to understand what's going on here on a human level, something they can't get by watching news and

reading newspapers. So I brought this group over. Somebody - I think my friend Avi Fisher, today in Clal Industries -

suggested coming over here [to the IDC] and spending some time. He said it was a tremendous place, with lots of

creativity, and he knew Reichman. So I spent half a day here with the group. I found almost a nature preserve of the

values dad believed in alive and kicking. Sacrifice, commitment, leadership by example, excellence. I decided I had

to get involved in some ways. I was asked to be on the international board of IDC, which I was happy to do. When

my father passed away, I started thinking about how and where to do something to preserve those values that were

so important to him. I needed to do that. I just needed to do that. This was the obvious place. Even though my father

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