The White Flag Principle: In Hebrew

[…….] I was back in the UK, but there was still one piece of unfinished business that I had left behind. That was a Hebrew edition of The White Flag Principle. If I had discovered something which, in my view, was important, I ought to present it to my own people, in my own language. I started to translate the book into Hebrew. It was not a translation actually, but a rewrite. The White Flag Principle was born in my head in Hebrew, but due to circumstances at the time, I had to write it in English. However, in my head, it was still in Hebrew. I had to write it down.

I rewrote the first three chapters and immediately sent them to my former newspaper editor, Schocken, who also owned a distinguished publishing house. Mr. Schocken was an old man by then and not active in publishing any more. He passed my manuscript and the letter that went with it, to his daughter. She wrote to me that the three chapters were fine and if the rest of the book would be on the same level, she would be happy to publish it. I continued my rewriting and added a new chapter, not in the English edition. This was chapter nine, about what to do if, instead of losing a war, one becomes victorious. In my view, it was a very important addition. Results in war are unpredictable. Generals go to war only to be victorious but, in the end, half of them find themselves defeated, which, (at least for them), is an unpredictable outcome. If this happens, the opposite could also happen. Army Generals who read my book and happen to be convinced by it and go to war in order to be defeated, may be very surprised indeed, if they find themselves victorious. If this can happen, I must show them a safe way to recover, that is, to show them how to turn a victory into a successful defeat.

I finished rewriting the book and sent the complete manuscript in Hebrew to Rachel Idelman, Gershom Schocken's daughter. I got back the manuscript with a note: “I read your manuscript but, unfortunately, I have decided not to publish it. It's true that there are debacles that brought victory to defeated nations, like Japan and Germany, but I'm not sure that this is the recommended solution for the Jewish people whose losses in their defeat by Germany, were much greater then the losses in defeat that appear in your book. I also don't agree with the attitude and the way you treat our soldiers".

Rachel Idelman's reply did not surprise me. I sent a copy of the manuscript to another publishers called Keter, For a long time I received no answer, It didn't bother me too much because I knew that I would have to go back to Israel at some point to settle another matter. The time came and I went back to Israel. When I arrived, I went straight to Jerusalem to meet the editor of Keter. “What have you decided about the manuscript I sent you in May?" I asked the editor. “Well" he answered, “we might publish it but, as you should know, we don't pay advances." When I heard this, I grabbed the manuscript that was lying on the table in front of him. As an author of more than twenty titles already published, I refused to be treated as an amateur by a vanity publisher. “Don't be so sensitive", he said to me. “in your case, we might change our usual policy, but I have to discuss it with my partners first. Why don't we meet next Friday, at one o'clock?" I agreed, stuffed the manuscript in my suitcase and returned to Tel-Aviv.

Next morning I went to see the editor of another publishing house, where I had another issue to settle. The publisher, Am Oved, who published most of my children's books, some of which became best sellers, had stopped paying me royalties. I sat down with the editor who assured me that the royalties would be paid. While having this chat she asked me if I had written anything new. I told her about the White Flag Principle, and added that Keter had already agreed to publish it and I was going to sign a contract the next day. When she heard this, she said that if I had no objection, Am Oved was ready to take the book, even without reading it. They would prepare the contract and we could sign it later on that very afternoon. So, I got the Hebrew edition published.