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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bush pardons American who helped Israel get B-17s in 1948 war

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2008/12/bush-pardons-american-who-helped-israel.html

Indeed, the B-17s played an important, if symbolic role in the Israel War of Independence, and convinced the Egyptians to stop bombing Tel-Aviv.
Last update - 05:54 24/12/2008       
Bush pardons man who gave Israel arms in 1948 war
By News Agencies
 
In a gesture of forgiveness for an American considered a hero in Israel, President George W. Bush on Tuesday granted a pardon posthumously to a man who broke the law to supply aircraft to Jews fighting in  Israel's 1948 War of Independence.
 
Charles Winters was listed in a batch of 19 pardons and one commutation that Bush issued before leaving for Camp David to spend the holidays. No high-profile lawbreakers were on the list.
 
In the summer of 1948, Winters, a non-Jewish Miami businessman who exported produce, worked with others to transfer two converted B-17 "Flying Fortresses" to Israel's defense forces. He personally flew one of the aircraft from Miami to Czechoslovakia, where that plane and a third B-17 were retrofitted for use as bombers.

The three B-17s were the only heavy bombers in the Israeli Air Force. It is reported that counterattacks with the bombers helped turn the war in Israel's favor. In March 1961, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir issued a letter of commendation to Winters to recognize his contributions to Israel's survival as an independent state.
 
Over the years, Winters, a Protestant from Boston who settled in the Miami area, told his family little of his conviction in 1949 for violating the Neutrality Act for conspiring to export aircraft to a foreign country. He was fined $5,000 and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
 
Two others, Herman Greenspun and Al Schwimmer, also were convicted of violating the act, but they did not serve time. President Kennedy pardoned Greenspun in 1961. President Clinton pardoned Schwimmer in 2000.


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