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