27 Jul The Story of Mike Amir
Mike Amir was born to a Christian family on a sheep farm in Australia. During the Second World War he served as an artillery officer in Burma. Later, he re-enlisted in the British army, becoming an intelligence officer based in Jerusalem.
Fate brought about his being present at some of the most dramatic events in Zionism. On July 11th, 1947, the ship Exodus carrying Holocaust survivors arrived in British Mandate Palestine. The British Royal Navy seized the ship and deported all its passengers back to Germany! This was a turning moment for Mike who found himself identifying with the Jewish people more and more. The day after the historic United Nations vote to recognize the State of Israel, the newly founded Jewish state was attacked by Arabs in the surrounding villages and the British turned a blind eye. Seeing this made Mike realize that he needed to put his feelings into action.
From the storage rooms in British headquarters in Jerusalem, Mike managed to get hold of aerial photos with names and coordinates of the Arab villages in the area which he took to the Defense Department at the Jewish Agency, where he met Chaim Herzog who later became the 6th President of the State of Israel. Over the next few months, while still being an intelligence office in the British army, Mike leaked sensitive information to Chaim Hertzog including warnings of upcoming weapon searches.
After witnessing first-hand the horrific Hadassah convoy massacre when 78 Jewish doctors, nurses, students, patients and Hagannah fighters were killed by Arabs, Mike’s resolve was strengthened to do even more to help. He requested to arrange a meeting with a contact person from the Hagannah. His first mission in assisting the Hagannah was to try and get hold of an artillery gun. As a British intelligence officer he managed to get the use of an army truck and drove to the British army base in Haifa. Once there he introduced himself to the base commander saying that he was from British intelligence based in Jerusalem and that he needed to take an artillery gun to replace one of theirs near Jerusalem which was damaged. The commander told him to “help himself” and so he did. Driving with the gun on the back of the truck on a very risky trip, he successfully reached the meeting place of the Hagannah where he handed over the gun.
On May 15th, when the last British troops left Palestine, Mike remained in Israel and fought as a soldier in the newly formed Israel Defense Force and received an award of excellence for his part in the fighting. He made many friends and loved the warmth of the people. He felt that finally he had found where he belonged, and if he stayed he wanted to be Jewish, so in early 1950 Mike converted to Judaism. Today Mike Amir still lives in Israel with his wife Sarah, his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. A true friend of Zion!