Michael Bar-Zohar

Bar-Zohar headshot
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1938, Michael Bar-Zohar immigrated to Israel in 1948 and grew up in a poor neighborhood in Jaffa. He served in Air Force Intelligence and in the Paratroopers and fought in four of Israel’s wars, the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War (in a commando that established a bridgehead across the Suez Canal) and the 1982 Lebanon War. After the Six Day War, Bar-Zohar was appointed spokesman and media adviser to his longtime friend, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, whose Rafi party Bar-Zohar had joined in 1965.

Bar-Zohar studied economics and international relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and earned his MA and PhD in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Paris, France. He was a professor at Haifa University and Emory University in Atlanta. As a journalist, Bar-Zohar was science editor at
Davar, a weekly newspaper in 1958-59, and he wrote for LaMerhav between 1960 and 1964.

Bar-Zohar served two terms in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, on the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, and as Chairman of the Education, Culture and Sports committee. He represented Israel at the Council of Europe and served as President of the France-Israel friendship league.

As a working historian and author, Bar-Zohar has published many non-fiction books, including
Spies in the Promised Land and a biography of Shimon Peres. As official biographer of David Ben-Gurion, he wrote the screenplay for the full-length documentary film “Ben-Gurion Remembers,” which features Ben-Gurion telling his life story in the company of his friends. He also wrote the screenplays for a documentary based on his book Beyond Hitler’s Grasp (2000) and for a feature film, Tuvianski (2015). Among Bar-Zohar’s several novels, The Enigma was later made into a movie starring Martin Sheen, Sam Neil and Derek Jacobi.

Bar-Zohar has won many honors, including the Ben-Gurion award, Israel’s Prime Minister’s prize for literature, the Israel Sokolov award, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (France), Order of Madara and Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Sofia (Bulgaria).

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