Beer, Israel

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BEER, ISRAEL (1912–1966), military commentator and Soviet agent in Israel. Beer went to Palestine from Vienna in November 1938. He joined the *Haganah and was appointed to the Central Training Bureau. During the War of Independence he served on the General Staff with the rank of lieutenant colonel. After retiring from the army in 1949, he became noted as a military commentator in Israel and abroad. Later, when he held the chair of military history at Tel Aviv University, *Ben-Gurion commissioned him to prepare the official history of the War of Independence. In 1961 Beer was arrested and accused of having contact with a Soviet intelligence agent. He was found guilty of treason and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. He died in prison. The true facts of Beer's biography until his arrival in Palestine are difficult to establish, since he himself gave varying versions. Apparently, he was born in Vienna and studied literature and philosophy at the University of Vienna. He claimed to have simultaneously joined the Schutzbund (the military organization of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party) and the government militia, and to have graduated from a course at Wiener Neustadt Military Academy with the rank of lieutenant in 1935. He also alleged that, at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, he had been ordered by the Social-Democratic Party to join the International Brigade, being finally promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He wrote Der Nahe Osten, Schick salsland zwischen Ost und West (1960), and Bitḥon YisraelEtmol, ha-Yom, Maḥar (1966; "Israel's Security – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow").

[Jehuda Wallach]