A special place in Jewish history is reserved for the Machal fighters of 1948. These were primarily World War II veterans, who volunteered to fight for Israel during its War of Independence, and their participation served a key role in Israel’s victory. Comprised mostly of Jews, but included non-Jews as well, they formed the nucleus of Israel’s nascent air force, navy, and filled many specialized roles in the army.

One of the most important members of this volunteer corps was Al Schwimmer, an American Jewish veteran who organized a group of pilots and experienced aviation personnel on Israel’s behalf. He also organized the purchase of planes for Israel’s Air Force, transported the planes to Czechoslovakia, and then used the planes to bring badly needed weapons and ammunition to fight for Israel’s survival. 


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