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Saving Israel

The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation's Independence

Boaz Dvir



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Stackpole Books
15 May 2020
At the opening of its war for independence in 1948, Israel needed weapons, aircraft in particular, and with a U.S. ban on arms sales, it needed a creative solution. Enter Al Schwimmer, who feared a repeat of the Holocaust, and Charlie Winters, the Boston son of Irish immigrants-two Americans with experience purchasing and flying planes in World War II and with sympathy to the Jewish state. Connected to both the aviation industry and the Jewish underground, they arranged to smuggle weapons to Israel, including, ironically, old German Messerschmitt fighters and, more significantly, American B-17 bombers, one of which Winters piloted across the Atlantic himself. Part of a squadron known as The Hammers, the bombers formed the nucleus of the new Israel air force. This pair of American made vital contributions to Israel's victory and independence, and both were later convicted of violating the 1939 Neutrality Act. Schwimmer would be pardoned by Bill Clinton and Winters by George W. Bush, their cause having attracted the support of Steven Spielberg, among others. This is history that reads like a thriller. The participants risked their lives, freedom, and citizenship to prevent what they viewed as a possible second Holocaust, and their story is one of a covert operation involving smuggling, evading the FBI and State Department, connections to underground Jewish intelligence and military groups, and acts of personal bravery in purchasing weapons, ferrying them across thousands of miles, and taking them into combat.
By:   Boaz Dvir
Imprint:   Stackpole Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780811737265
ISBN 10:   0811737268
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   15 May 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Boaz Dvir is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker who produced and directed the PBS documentary A Wing and a Prayer, which tells this story and which won best feature documentary at the 2016 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and has screened around the world at such venues as the American Jewish Historical Society in New York, Columbia University's Global Center in Paris, and the Library Film Festival in India. Dvir teaches journalism at Penn State and has also produced and directed the documentaries Jessie's Dad, Discovering Gloria, and Cojot, about a French banker who sets out to kill former Nazi Klaus Barbie. His films have been covered by the Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Post, Haaretz, the Miami Herald, Stars and Stripes, and other publications. Dvir has written for Newsday, the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Times, the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel, and Explore magazine.

Reviews for Saving Israel: The Unknown Story of Smuggling Weapons and Winning a Nation's Independence

Saving Israel reveals the little-known story of the creation of the air force that defended the state of Israel in its earliest days in 1948. Enriched by numerous first-hand accounts of the participants, Boaz Dvir presents a compelling and highly readable story of people willing to risk all in defense of an ideal.--Richard Shryock, associate professor, Department of Modern and Classical Languages & Literatures, Virginia Tech With the world being turned on its head, the state of Israel faces some of its biggest challenges since its inception little more than a half century ago. To understand Israel's beginning, Boaz Dvir's beautifully written book, Saving Israel, offers a loving and unvarnished account of the men and women who risked everything to make sure Israel not only survived, but thrived. And it is a stark reminder of why Israel's survival and its place in the world is more important than ever.--Barbara Dury, former 60 Minutes producer How did Israel come to rely on Nazi-surplus weapons during its war for independence in 1948? How did a fledgling state that didn't yet have an air force manage to turn back a powerful Egyptian military column that was poised to march on Tel Aviv? In Saving Israel, Boaz Dvir answers these questions and more by recreating the relatively little-known story of a heroic band-of-brothers--a group of American WWII vets who risked their comfortable lives and freedom to answer a desperate call for help. Drawing on over two-dozen interviews, Dvir's book brings this incredible chapter in Israel's early history to life. What motivated these men to fly for Israel at a time when its survival hung in the balance? Saving Israel is a must read for anyone interested in military history and learning more about America's war heroes.--Miriam F. Elman, Executive Director, Academic Engagement Network, and Associate Professor of Political Science, Syracuse University The American Jewish and Christian role in helping Israel win its War of Independence in 1948 is little known in the US or Israel. Saving Israel is a revelation.--Ralph Lowenstein, dean emeritus, University of Florida College of Journalism

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