And res­cue

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS FEATURE -

Ethiopi­ans preparing to be flown to Is­rael as part of Op­er­a­tion Solomon Be­tween June 1949 and Septem­ber 1950 the JDC or­gan­ised and fi­nanced Op­er­a­tion Magic Car­pet — the air­lift­ing of Jews en masse out of Ye­men, Dji­bouti and Eritrea, on flights to Is­rael char­tered by Alaska Air­lines.

As part of the op­er­a­tion, which cost $3.5 mil­lion, the JDC or­gan­ised ed­u­ca­tional, vo­ca­tional and lan­guage classes to pre­pare im­mi­grants for their new lives in Is­rael.

The JDC also fi­nanced Op­er­a­tion Ezra and Ne­hemiah, a se­ries of air­lifts from Bagh­dad, which took place through­out 1951 and 1952. Most of the 130,000 Jews of Iraq em­i­grated to Is­rael this way.

The JDC was also closely in­volved in 1991’s Op­er­a­tion Solomon in Ethiopia. Early that year, they, along with the Jewish Agency and the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment, set up a se­cret net­work of lo­cal Jews to trans­mit in­for­ma­tion around the coun­try and pre­pare for the day when Ethio- pian Jewry would be al­lowed to leave for Is­rael. In 1991, Ethiopia was in the grip of civil war, and by May of that year, the Ethiopian Peo­ple’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Demo­cratic Front was close to cap­tur­ing Ad­dis Ababa and over­throw­ing the regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam.

By 10am on May 24, thou­sands of Jews were stream­ing to­wards the Is­raeli em­bassy. Fire­fights were break­ing across the city. Peo­ple had left their homes so quickly that women were stop­ping to give birth. Over two days, 14,000 Jews were air­lifted out of Ethiopia to Is­rael on mil­i­tary planes. One El Al Boe­ing 747 car­ried 1,122 pas­sen­gers on a sin­gle flight.

Af­ter the op­er­a­tion, the JDC was in­volved in the of­ten dif­fi­cult ef­fort to in­te­grate Ethiopian Jewry into Is­raeli so­ci­ety.

Prior to the es­tab­lish­ment of direct flights be­tween the Soviet Union and

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