AGAINST ALL ODDS
The Magnificent Trio That Built the Israeli Air Force
By Hugo N.Gerstl
1947 – the United Nations has just declared that the British Mandate over Palestine will come to an end, and in May 1948 it will be divided into two independent states: Jewish Israel and Arab Palestine. The Arab world reacts immediately to say there will be no Jewish state, and its Jewish population will be driven into the sea! The odds are astonishing: 65,000,000 Arabs aligned against 600,000 Israeli Jews. Britain has washed its hands of the whole problem, and although the Arab countries have already been armed to the teeth, the United States, under the guise of the Neutrality Act, has made it a felony for any American to supply either side with arms of any kind.
Enter a Trio – Al Schwimmer, Hank Greenspun, and Charlie Winters – three men who defy the Neutrality Act and risk felony convictions by supplying the embryonic State of Israel with twenty-three former German Messerschmitt Bf 109s smuggled in from Czechoslovakia, erasing the Nazi swastikas and painting instead Jewish Stars of David on the tails. Al Schwimmer founds a bogus "Panamanian" airline and arranges to fly seven large aircraft out of Panama "to do an aerial survey," never returning. Instead, they fly to Israel while bombing Cairo en route. Hank Greenspun secures a huge cache of ammunition from a junk dealer in Hawaii and helps himself to a similar store of weapons at the unsecured U.S. Naval Storage Depot next door, smuggling the weapons to Mexico on a hijacked yacht and ultimately shipping them "to Nationalist China" as "irrigation equipment" – via Israel. Charlie Winters contributes B-17 bombers to the cause.
After their return to the U.S. and their subsequent felony convictions – for which they were fined and stripped of most of their rights as U.S. citizens – Schwimmer is recruited to start a small aircraft maintenance plant in Israel, which will become Israel Aircraft Industries, a billion-dollar-a-year operation. Greenspun, who served for a brief period as a publicity man for mobster Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo Hotel, purchases a defunct biweekly newspaper, which he turns into the Pulitzer Prize-winning Las Vegas Sun – and, along the way, is among the first to call witch-hunting senators Joseph McCarthy and Patrick McCarran to account. Winters returns to importing and exporting fruit and diamonds between Israel, the Caribbean, and the United States.
After the Six-Day War in 1967, when France reneges on its commitment to sell Israel fifty advanced fighter jets, Schwimmer and his crew manage to "steal" the plans and blueprints from a friendly engineer in Geneva. Within six months Israel Aircraft Industries is turning out its own home-grown Mach 2 multi-role fighter aircraft, the Nesher (Vulture). And afterward, the story goes on and brings the Iran-Contra affair and numerous unbelievable-but-true adventures to light.
International bestselling author Hugo N. Gerstl has crafted a hypnotizing and completely rewarding tale based on the true life stories of three of Israel's often unheralded heroes – a magnificently readable tour de force that cements and further enhances his growing popularity and reputation as a master storyteller.
An English-Language eBook edition was published in summer 2012 by SWS ,Inc., CA.
486 pages, 14.5x22.5 cm