Yosef (Joe) Alon was born Josef Plaček on Kibbutz Ein Harod to Jewish immigrants from Czechoslovakia on July 25, 1929. When he was two, his family returned to Czechoslovakia, where they settled in Teplice, in the Sudetenland. Following the Munich Agreement, which resulted in the annexation of Sudetenland to Nazi Germany, Alon and his family moved to Prague.
On the eve of World War II, Alon’s father sent 10-year-old Josef and his elder brother David to the United Kingdom as part of the Kindertransport program. He was then adopted by George and Jenny Davidson, a childless Christian couple.
Most of his family was wiped out during the Holocaust, with his parents being murdered at Auschwitz. Following the war, he returned to Czechoslovakia and attempted to start a career as a jeweler. He graduated from a vocational school and enlisted in the Czechoslovak Air Force, where he successfully completed a pilot course.
In 1947, Alon volunteered for the first pilots’ course in the Sherut Avir, the Haganah’s nascent air corps. Soon afterward, he moved back to Mandate Palestine and changed his name to Yosef Alon. Following Israeli independence in 1948, he was among the founding members of the Israeli Air Force and served as a fighter pilot in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
From August 1960 to August 1961. In 1965, after attending a command and training course in England, Alon went on to head the Flying Safety branch of the IAF.
In 1970, then a colonel, Alon was chosen to be the assistant air and naval attaché at Israel’s Embassy in Washington, DC. On the night of June 30, 1973, Yosef and his wife Dvora went to a dinner party organized for a departing embassy staffer. When they returned home early the next morning, Alon was shot five times before entering his home in Bethesda, Maryland.
Alon was taken to a hospital where he died on July 1, 1973, at the age of 43.
The FBI investigation of a possible link with Arab terrorism was closed in March 1976 without discovering the perpetrators. After receiving new information, the FBI reopened the case in 1977, but closed it again without finding the killer. Another investigation was launched in 2017 after journalist Adam Goldman was told by the imprisoned terrorist Carlos the Jackal that Alon’s killers were American military veterans working for Black September. In his book, Chasing Shadows, former State Department official, Fred Burton, also attributed the murdrer to Black September and said the Mossad eventually tracked and killed the assassin.
In the documentary film Who Shot My Father? The Story of Joe Alon, several Israelis who were interviewed suggested he was killed because he knew too much about a conspiracy related to the 1973 War.
Alon married Dvora Alon (née Kirat), a Jewish immigrant from Yemen, in 1954. They had three daughters.
Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit via Wikimedia.