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The Machals

America has come in for criticism over the years as an interventionist imperialist state and Israel as the oppressive bully boy of the Middle East but it was not always thus. In 1948 with the approval of the United Nations the state of Israel was formed and promptly invaded by their Arab neighbours. These countries had a collective population of 50 million whilst Israel numbered 600,000 Jews. In every military respect except the will to fight the Arab forces were superior.

The Israelis had few planes, mainly those that belonged to the Luftwaffe. They had virtually no pilots. So word went out for Machals, volunteers and the link below is the story of a few of them. These were mainly Americans who responded to the call for arms and formed a very rough and ready Air Force. Unbelievably in the words of one we stopped them cold. Within 20 years the Israeli Air Force was such a well-oiled machine that the 6 day Yom Kippur Was was actually concluded in 45 minutes when initially flying out west beyond radar they then took out the Egyptian aircraft on the ground .

Prior to 1948,  a similar group of brave American airmen, one of whom was the actor Jimmy Stewart, formed the Eagle squadron who fought in the Battle of Britain and committed treason in so doing.

We had a family relative who was a Machal and something of a dare devil. I remember as a boy being terrified when he decided we would fly a mission. Uncle Harry joked that at the pearly gates he would be let in quicker than any rabbi. “When a rabbi gives a sermon, the congregation is asleep but when I fly everyone says their prayers.”


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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts