War hero: The death of Avidgor Ben Gal

Very few Americans have ever heard of Avigdor "Yanush" Ben Gal, who died yesterday in Israel at age 79.  But Ben Gal is an important figure in 20th-century history, who directly contributed to the end of the Cold War and fall of the Soviet Union, albeit in an indirect way.  Ben Gal was an officer in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) Armored Corps.  Like many Israelis of his generation, he got to Israel in a roundabout way.  As a boy, he fled Poland as a refugee with his parents into the Soviet Union at the start of World War II.  His parents died along the way, but with his sister Ben Gal made it to the Palestine Mandate.  He served in the IDF in the 1956 Suez Campaign, the Six-Day War of 1967 (in which he was badly wounded), and the War of Attrition that followed.  He won his place in military history a few years later, during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  Then, as commander of the IDF's crack 7th Armored Brigade, he arguably saved...(Read Full Post)