From The Attic To The Skies

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How one man managed to alter the lives of thousands, and defy all that stood in his way.

Reading like a superhero origin story, the life of Arieh Oz is a tale of hope and perseverance.

Arieh Oz was in fact, born Harry Klausner in 1936 in Nazi Germany. With his parents dispersed, Oz and his sister hid in the confines of a selfless Dutch family’s attic. Arieh would never forget this family, and what they had done for him. At one point the eldest son would even put his own life on the line for Arieh. It is safe to assume that normality was not something that would ever be on the cards for Arieh or his family.

Arieh would later regroup with his family and they would integrate into Israel. This is where the real legend of Arieh Oz began.

Constantly struggling to fit in, having never been to school, Arieh knew he had to try harder than everyone else. After overcoming his stutter due to the trauma he endured, Arieh would then continue to dominate and conquer the hurdles which he had never faced before. This determination and grit is what would later turn Arieh into Israel’s first king of the skies.

Arieh started ascending the ranks and eventually became the first to lead the Israeli Air Force’s International Squadron. However, his entry into history and world records would come after his retirement from the IDF. Following this retirement, Arieh started working for El-Al where he would blitz through the ranks until he reached the position of El Al’s Director of Flight Operations.

It was during this stage that Arieh would make history and alter the lives of thousands of Ethiopian Jews. During his time as Head of Operations, Arieh participated in two historic operations. One of these operations would actually make its way into the Guinness Book of World Records, for the most people onboard a commercial aircraft at a single time. While Arieh had rescued hostages from terrorists in the operation in Entebbe, he also managed to land the first Boeing 747 in Addis Ababa in order to rescue Jews who were trapped in the region. However,  one of the most fascinating aspects of Arieh’s life is how he was able to pass those admirable traits onto the next generation.

All of us here at UK AWIS could not be more inspired by the legacy that Arieh has created, and how it has been maintained by his family, with almost everyone following in their father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, currently spearheading their own ascents in the ranks of the IDF. UK AWIS wishes one of Israel’s most distinguished IDF families to continue to break boundaries and make us proud. This story truly shows how selfless acts can create dynasties, inspire hope, and change the lives of thousands.