On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, Jeffrey Weiss and Craig Weiss release Fighting Back: Stan Andrews and the Birth of the Israeli Air Force, the story of a decorated U.S. WWII veteran who leaves LA to fight in a war in Israel.
As Ukrainian citizens are literally arming themselves to protect their homes, their family and country against the Russian army, who in history can those on today’s front lines use as inspiration, and why should those around the world and across the United States honor his courage and acknowledge his legacy?
Fighting Back: Stan Andrews and the Birth of the Israeli Air Force
In Fighting Back: Stan Andrews and the Birth of the Israeli Air Force, authors Jeffrey Weiss and Craig Weiss draw on more than 20 years of meticulous research—including interviews with their subject’s surviving family members and former squadron-mates, well into their 80s and 90s—to tell the compelling yet little known story of Stan Andrews, an assimilated American Jew and decorated World War II veteran who in 1948 left a comfortable life in Los Angeles to risk his life for the survival of Israel, a state just forming, driven by his deep loyalty to the Jewish people.
“Stan’s service in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) during the war was significant, impactful, and unique,” the authors make clear. After volunteering to fight for Israel in the War of Independence (also known as the Palestine War), Andrews flew combat missions as a member of two different squadrons—the first fighter squadron and a bomber squadron.
Between his service in those two squadrons, while holding the rank of major and using an assumed name, he worked with some of Israel’s most senior military officials, including a future head of Mossad, a future chief of staff and a future prime minister: David Ben-Gurion.
Among his accomplishments, Andrews was pivotal to the success of Operation Yoav, a campaign to preserve Israel’s claims to the Negev, a large desert region and strategic asset for the nascent Jewish state in terms of both access to the mineral resources of the Dead Sea and a future trade route to Asia.
While bringing Andrews, the daring combat pilot, to life in vivid, gripping detail, Fighting Back also sheds light on its hero’s contradictory character and conflicted relationship with his Jewish identity. Among the facts and qualities that make Andrews particularly interesting and potentially relatable to many readers:
He was born Stanley Anekstein in New York City, changed his last name to sound more gentile, often denied being Jewish (even once to a Jewish WWII tentmate) and never set foot in a synagogue before going to Israel.
He was brilliant, graduating from high school at age 16 and completing college at 19, and had immense creative talent. He could have easily become a successful artist, an accomplished writer, or both. But he chose to fight for a Jewish state, putting all of that at risk.
He was anti-war in his youth. Yet, during WWII, he became an aggressive bomber pilot, and, when other veterans were eager to make up for years lost and rebuild their lives, he volunteered to return to combat for a second time.
He professed to not “give a damn about Zionism,” but was in many ways the quintessential Zionist. Stan Andrews was so aroused by the antisemitism of his day that he risked everything to fight so that the Jews could have a state.
While celebrating an under-sung and, in many ways, unlikely hero in the fight to establish Israel, Fighting Back raises timely and important questions about identity and loyalty for American Jews living in the 21st century.
About Jeffrey Weiss and Craig Weiss
Jeffrey Weiss and Craig Weiss are also the coauthors of I Am My Brother’s Keeper: American Volunteers in Israel’s War for Independence (1998), and were both featured in the 2014 Nancy Spielberg documentary, Above and Beyond. Brothers, they are both fluent in Hebrew.
Jeffrey studied law at Bar Ilan University and in 2022, made Aliyah to Israel. Craig is a venture capitalist and award-winning entrepreneur. He lived in Israel for four years.
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