7. The Communist Spy Who Rose to the Heights of Israel’s Government
Yisrael Bar (1912 – 1966) was at the heart of a scandal that rocked Israel’s government in the 1960s. An Austrian-born Israeli officer, Bar rose to prominence as an expert on Israeli military history. That secured him a high-ranking position in the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which commissioned him to write a book on the Israeli War of Independence. It also won him a place within the inner circle of Israeli prime minister David Ben Gurion, whose trusted confidant and advisor he became.
Bar arrived in Palestine in the late 1930s with an impressive martial resume, having graduated from the Austrian military academy, and served as a commissioned officer in the Austrian army. He then went on to fight in the Spanish Civil War with the International Brigades, where he was known by the nom de guerre “Colonel Jose Gregorio”. Between his martial exploits, Bar found the time to get a doctorate in literature from the University of Vienna. That CV was all bunk: the real Yisrael Bar had died years earlier.