Shwimmer, Al

(1917 or 1918- )
   Founder of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) who was born in the United States. An aeronautical engineer, Shwimmer had established a small factory in California called Intercontinental Airways, which dealt mainly with repairing old airplanes. He was convicted in 1950 of violating the U.S. Neutrality Act for smuggling airplanes to Israel during the War of Independence (1948—49). In 1951, he met with Shimon Peres, then head of an Israeli arms acquisition delegation, and proposed that his company look for scrap metal for Mustang planes (which were popular in the Israeli air force), renovate the planes, and ship them to Israel. The idea was broached with Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion, who approved it. Ben-Gurion proposed that Shwimmer relocate the factory to Israel, and this was the beginning of IAI. One of the final acts undertaken by President William J. (Bill) Clinton before leaving office was to officially pardon Shwimmer for violating the Neutrality Act by assisting Israel.
   See also MAHAL.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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  • Israel Aircraft Industries — (IAI)    IAI is the centerpiece of Israel s armaments industry. It has grown rapidly from a company of less than 100 employees when founded to more than 20,000 today. IAI produces a wide range of items, some under license, including aircraft… …   Historical Dictionary of Israel

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