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, which is currently a 10-week-and-counting bestseller in Israel and has been licensed in Brazil as well.
The son of a family that immigrated to Palestine at the turn of the 20th century, whose father and mother served in the Palmach, Israel’s early clandestine commando force, 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.
The Pilots’ Letter ended Spector’s military career, but also made 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 Nasser’s MiGs, his mother’s constant lesson to him sustained him: “All from within.”
General Spector’s 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 B.A. in history and Middle East Studies from Tel Aviv University and a masters in political science from UCLA, both with honors.