Synopses & Reviews
Iftach Spector’s family immigrated to Palestine at the turn of the twentieth century. His father and mother both served in the Palmach, Israel’s early clandestine commando force, which led to the death of his father during World War II when Spector was seven months old. After the Sinai War of 1956, sixteen-year-old Spector knew he wanted to be a fighter pilot and looked forward to his induction. He started his pilot training in 1958, and two years later had his wings in the Israeli Air Force.
After the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, during which he commanded a squadron of fighter-bombers, he continued his service to his country for three decades, rising to head the Israeli Air Force’s Training and War Lessons Section and eventually becoming its chief of operations. During these years he downed twelve MiG fighters (plus three more as “unit score”), making him one of the aces of jet aviation.
The 2003 “Pilots’ Letter,” the famous statement by IAF pilots refusing to take part in unlawful military activities, caused Spector and twenty-seven other pilots to be labeled “refuseniks.” Spector disputed the term—does refusing to commit war crimes make one a refusenik? Nevertheless, it brought Spector’s military career to an end, while also making him one of the most compelling and celebrated defenders of the conscience of the Jewish state. In that battle, as in his previous battles against Egypt’s MiGs, his mother’s constant lesson sustained him: “All from within.”
Spector has written a rich and reflective meditation on loyalty, on what is right and wrong in war, and on his dedication to the idea and reality of the state of Israel. His maverick conscience informs this artfully written memoir, already a bestseller in Israel in its original Hebrew edition.
Iftach Spector—retired Israeli Air Force general and its second-highest-scoring fighter ace—is one of Israel’s living legends. During the Six Day War in June 1967, he led the flight that attacked the U.S. surveillance ship USS Liberty off the Sinai Peninsula, an apparent case of mistaken identity that remains controversial to this day. He was one of the eight Israeli pilots who attacked and destroyed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirik in 1981. In 2003 he was the senior signatory of the famous “Pilots’ Letter,” in which General Spector and twenty-seven other Israeli pilots stated their refusal to bomb targets in Palestine where collateral damage would likely be severe. It was the end of his military career. In this vivid memoir, at turns moving and exciting, Spector illuminates what it was like coming of age in the fledging Jewish state of Israel and how he defended both its territory and its conscience as he rose through the ranks as a fighter pilot.
A recently retired Israeli Air Force general and its second-highest-scoring fighter ace, Iftach Spector is one of Israel’s living legends. He was the leader of the flight that attacked the USS Liberty in 1967. After the 1967 and 1973 wars, in which he commanded a squadron of fighter-bombers, he rose to head the IAF’s Training and War Lessons Section and later became its the Chief of Operations. He was one of the eight Israeli pilots who attacked Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirik in 1981.
In 2003, his career took an even more dramatic turn: he was the senior signatory of the famous “Pilots’ Letter,” in which Spector and 27 other Israeli pilots stated their refusal to bomb targets in Palestine where collateral damage would likely be severe. His maverick conscience is well on display in this artfully written memoir.
About the Author
Iftach Spector is a retired Brigadier General of the Israeli Air Force. Since 2001, he has been active in the Movement for Disengagement from the Palestinians. Spector\u2019s first book, A Dream in Black and Azure (1992; never translated into English), won the Sade Literary Award, given to him personally by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He has a BA in history and Middle East Studies from Tel Aviv University and a master\u2019s in political science from UCLA, both with honors. General Spector lives in Ramot-HaShavim, Israel.