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May 22, 1970 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1970-05-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Role of Americans in Building Israel Arsenal
Related by Leonard Slater, Author of 'Pledge'


"Even today," says Leonard
Slater, author of "The Pledge,"
"there is a group of career dip-
lomats in the State Department
who favor a more pro-Arab stand."'
Slater's "The Pledge" tells about
the American underground organ-
ization of an army for Israel be-
tween 1945 and ' 48. The book de-
scribes "the gap that yawned be-
tween a generally sympathetic
public opinion and an intransigent
group of State Department profes-
sionals," in those years.
It was this official attitude that
forced pre - state
Palestine to en-
gage in it
arms trade.
Flying into De-
troit for the day
and off again,
Slater stopped to \
talk about and
beyond his book.
He said that the
career diplomat type of attitude
"is almost traditional . . . It is
inherited from the British." The
concern over oil interests is the
reason. "I and others have been
waiting for Arabs to serve Amer-
ican interests for the last 30 years,"
said Slater. "For example, both
Iraq and Egypt provided oil for
the Axis during the war."
Israel managed to assort an
army and an arsenal in time for
its independence and the Arab in-
vasions in '48.

Michigan has 40 symphony or-
chestras, 12 professional string

Definition of Genius
Great geniuses have the short-

quartets, 150 high school string est biographies. Their cousins can
quartets and approxiately 200 tell you nothing about them. —
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
civic choruses.

servations began to give sense to ing jets from the United States, 28—Friday, May 22, 1970
since France is no longer friendly
his unfounded theory.
With a book in mind, Slater ask- to Israel and the Israelis are still
ed permission of the Israeli De- fighting for their lives."
fense Ministry. They were en- The parallel is solely where air-
thusiastic, feeling that the revela- planes are concerned, said Slater.
lion of this story would solidify "Otherwise they produce 70 per
bonds between Israel and American cent of their own armaments."
Jews. Slater predicts they may want to
Slater also checked the legal make their own jet fighter in the
problems involved and learivx1 future.
Including the latest Edwardian Tuxedos
"But the first arms industry
that by certain statutes of limit-
ation such smuggling activities was started in a New York
were no longer considered illegal. apartment. Now the Israelis

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Teddy Kolleck, now mayor of

Jerusalem, who served 29 an
.underground liaison from Israel
to the U.S., and plays a leading

role in the book, provided Slater
with a list of about eight names
to go on.

make the Uzi sub-machine gun,
which is the best in the world
and bought by Iranian, Dutch
and West German armies. It is
smuggled in in 1946."
smuggled in 1946."

"I don't expect my book to turn
They agreed it was time to the tide of America's foreign po-
tell the story, never told before. licy, but anything that strengthens
To Slater's credit the completely the bonds between Israel and the
factual account reads like a novel. American Jewish community is
Slater interviewed more than good for both."
Slater was disappointed to learr4
250 people. He spent three years re-
searching the book and one year how little young Israelis knew
writing it. He described the re about their history, particularly
sponse of these Americans who ha d American Jews role in aiding
been hiding their story for so long Israel.
"Some young Israelis had never
"Most were reluctant at first," h
said. "But after I told them th e heard of Haim Slavin, the Israeli
official response and that I ha d who started Israel's arms industry
Ta'as, and was its head. He is still
permission, they agreed.
living in Israel.
"Then the telling of their sta r Y
"They don't know about Al
became almost therapeutic. Afte ✓
Schwimmer from Bridgeport, N.Y.,
holding in so long, they could jus who is now managing director of
talk and talk."
Israel Aircraft Industries. Schwim-
Once hearing his father's story • mer recently announced the pro-
It was done by an underground a son changed his bad opinion o f duction of Bedek, Israel's own jet
movement of Jewish Americans his father and saw him as a hero trainer."
and non-Jewish sympathizers who he said.
But most of the participants in
When, "some of their memories the underground adventure now
smuggled arms under the nose
of the American embargo and became clouded," Slater would lead pleasant normal lives in
have to constantly recheck their America where almost no one,
British control of Palestine.
They were Americans of th e , "This underground movement even some of their wives, know
most unsuspicious sort, said Sla t- was far from an international about their exploits.
Slater said he is now good
er, "the kind that would be afrai d power," said Slater, "They were
friends with Phil Alper, a leading
to cross against a red light."
situated in one room in New York figure in the book, who owns a
"Many were not even sure ex - , and pinched for funds. Like any
machinery plant in New York.
actly of what they were doing bu t underground, all records were
A Detroiter who was recently
only that they were helping.
; destroyed when it was all over." honored by the Israel government
"No movement of national lib - Slater told the kind of route he
for her undercover efforts, Sally
eration ever got started withou t would follow to his information.
Fields, was of great help to Slater.
this kind of help," he said.
' He traced war machinery from She was the head of the Detroit
Slater's career in journalism in - the Hudson to the East River , co
volved him with these unknown Italy and then to Israel. To do so, office of the cover organizations.
details of Israel's recent history. he located the purchase order in She collected jeeps, radio sets,
He spent more than 20 years as Miami talked to the owner of the even brassieres to equip the Is-
raeli army.
correspondent, writer and edito ✓ warehouse where it was stored in
"She was a charming, ener-
for Newsweek, NBC News, Tim e Texas, then to the supervisor of getic
tiny woman who charmed
and McCall's in New York, Wash - shipment in New York and then the
crusty man named Mar-
ington, Los Angeles and through - man who assembled it in Israel.
cus Michles, owner of a surplus
out Europe and Asia before turn -
Slater said that he acquired
Freemont, Ohio, into
ing full time to the writing o f three "big hauls" of documents
giving her a boat and auto parts
as his base. The first haul was
various airplane
In fall of 1948, when he wa s a warehouse in what is now the
parts. He was also honored by
Newsweek's correspondent in Is
Bedf or d-Stuyvesant area of
in De-
rael, he met American pilots. Soon
Brooklyn. The treasure of the
after, he saw three American fly - warehouse was several steel file
ing fortresses passing over the cases filled with trucking and
Dr. Eugene Pious, who volunteer-
railroad order slips, many with ed to serve as doctor with the
Before Israel, Slater was in the standard "OK Joe" trucker's Israel
Czechoslovakia, where he met a
signature. This gave him valu-
"Latin Detroit" is the name of
South African pilot who was help- able dates and a chronology for
the book's chapters. "They
ing the cause of Israel. And he his research.
didn't want where they were go-
heard newspaper reports which in-
The second haul came when an ing to be intercepted, so "Latin
dicated that Czechoslovakia was interviewer suddenly remembered
selling old Nazi fighter planes to an old briefcase he left in his Detroit" was a coded message
for Panama," explained Slater.
mother's basement. But he hadn't
Slater, who attended the Univer-
Later, in Las Vegas, Slater seen his mother in years and sity
of Michigan as a political
met Hank Greenspun (who plays Slater had to wait outside in respeci
an important role in his book) to the sudden reunion. The brief- science major, "but spent all of
on the Michigan Daily,"
described as the editor-crusa- case contained decoded flight in-
der of the Las Vegas Sun. structions to Palestine which were thought that his book would help
show that "Jews do fight and are
Greenspun told Slater that he not decoded anywhere else.
willing to risk their lives and
bid money in a belt and acquir-
The third haul was in Tel Aviv
ed armaments for Israel in in the library of the military his- security for a cause they believe
torian of the Israel air force. The
The final link in the building historian never had the chance in
chain of curiosity was the publica- 16 years to decode messages like
tion in 1965 of "Eichmann in Jeru- "SA 120,000." Slater xeroxed the
salem" by Hannah Arendt. Some initials of such cover companies
interpreted her book to indicate and learned that SA, for example,
Jewish Folk Chorus, under the
that the European Jews did not put stands for Service Airways.
up enough resistance to the Nazi
Among these records was a direction of Harvey Schreibman, is
sweep and therefore were colla- Hagana report in Hebrew that the preparing for its 45th concert 8
borators in their own self-destruc- crew had managed to fit a smaller p.m. June 7 at the Masonic Tem-
aircraft into its carrier by "one of ple.
In response to Arendt's book, God's miracles." -
The concert will feature the
several books were written about
Three years later, in San Diego, world premiere of the cantata, "In
instances of Jewish resistance, Gerald Rowland, a non-Jew who the Desert" ('In Midbor'). The text
like the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. was the first ME109 navigator and is by I. E. Ronch and the music
These events, said Slater, made engineer for Israel, told how he by Vladimir Heifetz. Marjorie
him seriously wonder if there had performed the miracle by calcula- Gordon and Cantor Louis Klein
been a whole Jewish underground tions on his slide rule.
will be featured soloists.
in '45-'48. "I thought about what
Said Slater: "There is an omin-
Tickets may be obtained from
Hank Greenspun had told me," ous parallel between this story and members of the chorus or at the
said Slater. His own previous ob- present-day Israel," which is seek- box office.

Jewish Folk Choir
to Sing in Concert








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