Translating tale of commando raid: Yonah Jeremy Bob

Yonah Jeremy Bob
Yonah Jeremy Bob (Marc Israel Sellem)

A gripping tale of intelligence gathering and gun running, culminating in a high-stakes Israeli commando raid on the high seas, has come to a bookstore near you thanks to the toil of Baltimore native son Yonah Jeremy Bob. “A Raid on the Red Sea: The Israeli Capture of the Karine A” was translated, edited and partially written by Bob, a literary editor and intelligence and legal analyst for the Jerusalem Post.

The Karine A was a Palestinian Authority vessel that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had loaded with 56 tons of high-grade, long-range weapons bound for the Gaza Strip, according to the book’s Amazon description.

Bob, 43, lives in the Israeli community of Modiin, but hails from Pikesville, and attended what is now the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, where he was part of the student newspaper. He graduated from Columbia University and went to law school at Boston University, and has previously worked for the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Israeli military international law division.

“Karine A” was originally written in Hebrew by the late Amos Gilboa, the former deputy chief of Israeli military intelligence. In addition to translating the work into English and editing it, Bob also wrote large new sections of the book. Much of the new content focused on the role of Iran and Hezbollah in the incident, he said.

Bob met Gilboa through a mutual contact, when Gilboa was working to generate publicity for the original Hebrew version. Impressed by Bob’s understanding of the intelligence field, Gilboa asked him to help translate the book into English, while Gilboa’s agent asked Bob to adapt the text to better suit a non-Israeli audience that would be less familiar with Israeli geography and culture.

Bob’s interest in the world of espionage and intelligence gathering came early, thanks in part to Hollywood. “There was a book and famous movie by Tom Clancy, ‘The Hunt for Red October,’ that came out when I was 9 or 10 years old, all about the CIA and the world of intelligence,” Bob said, “and I got pretty hooked. And basically, almost any movie about spying that’s probably come out since then I’ve probably seen.”

Bob’s fascination with the law came in part from its capacity to challenge him, and in part from its relevance to so much else of importance. “I’ve always found law interesting, because first of all it’s like an intellectual exercise for your brain, to try to sort of understand a complex side of the world,” Bob said. “But the law ends up having major impacts on humanity, whether it’s international law and war that has a big impact on war and peace, whether it’s constitutional law that has a big impact on individual rights vs. national rights. … All of those things I’ve always found fascinating.”

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