Dan Tolkowsky

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Dan Tolkowsky
Dan Tolkovsky.jpg
Dan Tolkowsky, 1953
Born (1921-01-17) January 17, 1921 (age 97)
Tel Aviv
AllegianceIsrael Israel
Service/branchIsraeli Air Force

Aluf Dan Tolkowsky (or Tolkovsky, Hebrew: דן טולקובסקי‎; born January 17, 1921) is a retired Israeli military officer who served as commander of the Israeli Air Force from 1953 to 1958.[1] A noted investor, he helped start the first Israeli venture capital fund.

Education and early life[edit]

Tolkowsky being decorated with the French Légion d'honneur, 1958

Tolkowsky was born in Tel Aviv in 1921 and was educated at the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium. In 1936 he joined the Haganah. In 1938 he went to London to study at Imperial College London and graduated with a BSc. in engineering in 1941.

Military service[edit]

In 1942 Tolkowsky volunteered for the Royal Air Force. He was part of a group of Palestinian-Jewish RAF pilots sent to train at a flight school in Southern Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe). He earned his wings in 1943, being the first in his group to complete the course, and went on to serve as a fighter pilot and later in reconnaissance aircraft. He saw action in the Mediterranean theatre, Germany, and France.[2] At the end of World War II, he served as a transport pilot, and was later stationed in Palestine at RAF Lydda, in Lydda (now Lod). He was discharged from the RAF in June 1946 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

After his discharge, Tolkowsky moved to Britain and worked as a mechanical engineer. In December 1947 he secretly began helping efforts to purchase aircraft for Sherut Avir, the Haganah's air arm and forerunner of the Israeli Air Force.[3] In 1948, a few days before the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Tolkowsky returned to Palestine. He served in the Israeli Air Force during the Israeli War of Independence, participating in bombing attacks on the Egyptian front.

He was initially discharged from the IAF, but reenlisted in 1951. He first served as Inspector-General, and then as Chief of Staff to the Commander. He was appointed Commander of the IAF in May 1953 and served until July 1958.[1][4][5] During his time as commander, the IAF received its first fighter jets and took part in the Suez Crisis. He was seconded to the Israeli Ministry of Defense in 1958-1959. He holds the rank of major-general (Res.) in the Israel Defense Forces.

Civilian life[edit]

In 1959 Tolkowsky joined the Discount Bank Investment Corporation (DBIC), originally an arm of the Bank, later a public company in Israel. He was appointed as Managing Director in 1965 and Vice-Chairman in 1980. Beginning in 1962, DBIC was the first financial institution in Israel to invest in local hi-tech industry. Tolkowsky helped Uzia Galil start the technology holding company Elron Electronic Industries in 1962. In 1985 Tolkowsky, in partnership with his son Gideon and Frederick Adler, a noted American venture capital investor, founded Athena, the first venture fund in Israel, to invest in Israeli and American ventures, mostly hi-tech, which operated until 1997.[6]

Tolkowsky also held a series of minor government posts. In 1963 he joined the National Council for Research and Development. He served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Radiation and Radioisotopes of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. In 1970 he headed a commission of inquiry that investigated an accident at Lod Airport. From 1978-1980 he was a member of the Israel Securities Authority plenum. In 1997 he served on the Ciechanover Commission, which investigated a failed Mossad assassination attempt against Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Jordan. He also was a member of a committee examining the organizational structure of higher education institutions.

Tolkowsky is a Commandeur of the French Legion d’Honneur (1958), holds a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Technion[7] Israel Institute of Technology (1980), and holds an award from the joint US-Israel Science and Technology Authority named after Yitzhak Rabin. He is married to Miriam and has a daughter and two sons, Roni, David, and Gideon.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Dan Tolkovsky (biographical details)". Cosmos.ucc.ie. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  2. ^ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4589099,00.html
  3. ^ http://www.iaf.org.il/3193-3335-en/IAF.aspx
  4. ^ Cohen, Eliezer (1993). Israel's Best Defense. New York: Orion Books. p. 504. ISBN 0-517-58790-4.
  5. ^ http://www.iaf.org.il/2564-30150-he/IAF.aspx
  6. ^ מוסף עצמאות: האיש שהיה שם (in Hebrew)
  7. ^ http://its.technion.ac.il/appreciationScience.php (in Hebrew)
  8. ^ Gideon Tolkowsky, Ph.D., Managing Director at BME Capital