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Diplomat Killed in Air Crash is Mourned As Friend of Israel

August 24, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The late U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel, who died last week in the airborne plane explosion that also killed Pakistan’s President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, was not hindered by his Jewishness and was "trusted" by his hosts in Pakistan, Raphel’s brother, Murray, recalled Tuesday.

Raphel, 45, "was not a deeply religious person except in the greater sense of the word," Murray said. He said his brother "respected all religions" and was full of "wit and humor, and intelligence, and ability."

Arnold, who had been serving in Pakistan–one of the largest Muslim countries in the world — since May 1987, was killed in the explosion Aug. 17 that also took the lives of 34 others, including Brig. Gen. Herbert Wassom, the top U.S. military official in Pakistan since July 1987.

Murray said Arnold did not attend Hebrew school, although he received special instruction for his Bar Mitzvah. Arnold has one daughter, Stephanie Raphel, from his first wife, Myrna Feigenbaum, who lives in Orlando, Fla.

He added that because Myrna later married a "more Orthodox man," Stephanie was raised in an Orthodox household. Stephanie attends Oberlin College in Ohio.

Arnold’s second wife, Robin Raphel, is a policy officer in South Africa for the State Department’s Foreign Service.

Last year, Arnold married Nancy Ely, who had been working for the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser since 1975. After their marriage, she became legal adviser to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.

Arnold is also survived by his parents, Sara and Harry Raphel of Atlantic City, N.J.


Hundreds of friends and colleagues attended a memorial service at the Fort Myer chapel in Arlington Monday, which was conducted by Rabbi A. Nathan Abramowitz of Tifereth Israel Congregation in Washington.

Raphel did not belong to any synagogue in Washington during his periodic stays here going back to 1972, friends recalled.

Dignitaries in attendance at the service included former Secretaries of State Edmund Muskie and Alexander Haig. Raphel was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

One of the four eulogies was given by Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, who said that when he visited Pakistan earlier this year, Raphel mused that they were possibly the only two Jews in Pakistan at the time.

Murray said that his brother’s interest in the Near East did not stem from his Jewish roots, but that Arnold visited Israel and was a "staunch supporter" of the Jewish state. He added that Arnold helped negotiate the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978-79.

Before his service in Pakistan, Arnold was Principal Deputy Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs at the State Department.

Born in Troy, N.Y., Raphel joined the Foreign Service in 1966, after receiving his master’s degree in political science from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and two years after graduating from Hamilton College.

Murray said Arnold wanted to be a diplomat ever since he was 12, when he wrote then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles about his interest in diplomacy. Murray said Dulles told his brother to "study hard, work hard and we’ll see you in ten years."

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