Although Boris Senior may not be well known outside Israel, he played an important, even vital, part in the formation of the Israel Air Force (IAF) and in the 1948 War of Independence. Those who are familiar with his efforts and dedication have an abiding respect and appreciation for this transplanted South African who nearly died when shot down on a mission in 1945 for the Royal Air Force.
Leaving the RAF after World War II, Senior dedicated himself to the formation of the state of Israel by joining the Irgun to fight British control of Palestine. Originally undertaking surreptitious operations to undermine the governing authority in Palestine, the onset of the 1948 War of Independence had him back in combat, this time against Israel’s Arab neighbors. He flew combat sorties in such widely differing aircraft as the Spitfire and, of all things, a Beechcraft Bonanza, a general-aviation type. Senior used his own money to buy supplies and aircraft, personally under-taking multiple dangerous missions to fly new acquisitions to Israel. His tireless work to form an air defense system for the newly formed State of Israel laid the groundwork for the modern-day Israel Air Force.
Through all his experiences, Senior has maintained an abiding understanding of the overall situation that still bedevils the Middle East, particularly Israel and its neighbors. Now, as a senior citizen, his fondest wish is to see the resolution of the age-old problems that result in so many Israelis and Arabs dying in attacks and counterattacks, more than fifty years after he helped launch the IAF.
Peter Mersky is a series co-editor for Potomac Books' Aviation Classics and the editor of From the Flight Deck: An Anthology of the Best Writing on Carrier Warfare (Brassey's, Inc., 2003). He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
"This memoir describes an earlier period when Senior and many like him were dedicated to getting Israel on its feet among the nations of the world. This autobiography sheds a new and very personal light on the struggle that began as the establishment of a new country and . . . yet today, still persists as one of the world’s primary conflicts between people who are, in reality, brothers."—From the foreword by Peter B. Mersky, series editor for Potomac’s Aviation Classics
"Boris Senior told me . . . his main aim in writing [this] book was to tell of the rise of the state and the miracle that happened to the Jewish people between the most terrible period of [their] history, the Holocaust, and the wonder of the founding of an independent country and its War of Liberation. I knew that, as always, he would fulfill his promise and complete his mission in time."—From the foreword to the first edition by Ezer Weizman, former president of Israel
"A fascinating life. . . . Senior’s use of language is rich and flowing . . . moving."—Ha'aertz
"From the moment you open this book to the reluctant moment you turn the final page, you are mesmerized. New Heavens is a story that must be told, the story of the creation of a nation and . . . the personal story of a boy who all too quickly becomes a man. It is not by chance that Tom Brokaw, in his book The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections, specifically names Boris Senior as one of that generation."—Harold Livingston, author of No Trophy No Sword: An American Volunteer in the Israeli Air Force During the 1948 War of Independence