Month: August 2013

Mizrahi Mossad agents took Arab wives

To what lengths would you go to serve your country? The Israeli press is awash with the extraordinary story of Jewish Mossad agents from Arab countries who took Palestinian wives in order to protect their cover. Report on i24 News (with thanks: Lily):

 In 1950, just two years after the establishment of the State of
Israel, the Mossad launched “Project Ulysses,” planting agents deep
undercover to pose as Palestinian refugees and provide intelligence on
possible uprisings.

Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth on Tuesday exposed the project,
highlighting the story of a single agent, Uri Yisrael, who spent a
record 15 years undercover, marrying a Palestinian woman and raising a
family with her, while providing information on the founding days of the
PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization).

Yisrael was one of a group of Jewish immigrants from Arab countries
who were enlisted into the spy agency in 1950. According to the report,
then Mossad chief Iser Harel convinced them to join project Ulysses by
telling them it was a vital national mission.

The men, some of them younger than 20, were ordered to sever ties
with their families and placed in a training facility in Jaffo. For a
year and a half, they were taught the arts of espionage, studied Islam
and perfected their cover stories.

“There were some excruciating moments,” recalled unit commander Sami
Moriah. “When I would deliver letters from the trainees to their
families, one of the mothers begged me to let her see her son. ‘Let me
have a glimpse of him, even for two minutes, even from afar, just so I
know my boy is alright,’ she pleaded. There were many tears, but I
couldn’t allow it because it would interrupt their process of taking on a
new identity.”

Nine agents completed the process and were embedded in the Arab
Israeli population. Their mission was to warn of uprisings and to
infiltrate the Palestinian Diaspora in Arab countries.

The report described how two of the agents who posed as Palestinian
refugees who had crossed into Israel from Jordan, were beaten by Israeli
policeman after Palestinian informants reported their arrival to an
Um-El-Fahm inn. Moriah said he and the other Mossad officials could do
nothing to prevent the beatings because they couldn’t break their cover.

While most of project Ulysses’s agents returned to Israel in 1959,
two of them — Yisrael and another one, whose name is still classified
under censorship laws — were encouraged by their Mossad handlers to
remain undercover. Still pretending to be hate-filled anti-Zionist
Palestinian nationals, the men got married and raised families. To this
day, Yisrael’s son (who is now in his fifties and lives abroad) does not
know his father was really a Mossad agent.

Read article in full 

Mossad spy story plays in Lebanese cinemas 

The Syrian Jew who saved Israel

Alice, don’t be mad at Judy!

 There is none so furious as a woman ignored, and from her post in The Times of Israel, Alice Harary Sardell (left) is one angry lady. She is angry that all the credit for rescuing the remnant of Syrian Jewry in  the 1990s is going to Judy Feld Carr (below), instead  of to Alice’s US-based Syrian Jewry committee. Let’s say that both ladies were heroic, and their work was complementary.

While Judy Feld Carr has been claiming for 20
years to have rescued the 4500 Jews of Syria, this is simply not true.
It is an injustice to those who actually did the job. 

She did admirable work rescuing numbers of
individual Jews from Syria over the course of her involvement, however,
the successful effort to

extricate the ENTIRE Syrian Jewish community,
the modern day exodus from Syria, was not hers.

This was undertaken, spearheaded, and achieved
by the United States Government and The Council for the Rescue of
Syrian Jews, composed of members of the American Syrian Jewish

This effort was not a secret mission and did
not occur over 30 years. Rather it was achieved in just under five years
from 1989 to 1994. It was actually very public and involved large scale
demonstrations, Congressional resolutions, United States Presidential
and Congressional delegations to Syria, as well as the intervention of
many heads of state, and other foreign bodies of government such the
European Parliament. This rescue involved the cooperation and
involvement of American diplomats in Syria, every branch of the United
States Government, lawmakers, and members of the American &
international Jewish community and its organizations that supported our

This is only a very brief description of a
very complicated and involved campaign. For the sake of historical
accuracy, I am compelled to write this response. We are very proud and
happy to elaborate on our work and saddened that Judy Feld Carr has
garnered so much renown for the work that we achieved. We are happy to
elaborate as everything we did is documented.

Read post in full 

How Syria’s Jews obtained their freedom

Would you return stolen property to a thief?

 The ‘Jewish archive’ was seized from the ladies’ gallery of Bataween synagogue

One day in 1984, Saddam sent his henchmen to Bataween synagogue to seize Jewish books and documents from right under the noses of the remaining Jews of Baghdad. It may be the legal thing for the US, which shipped the trove to Texas for restoration, to return the archive to Iraq, but is it the moral thing for the US to do? Lyn Julius blogs in the Times of Israel:

Click here to sign the petition to stop the archive being transferred back to Iraq 

The World Organisation of Jews from Iraq has gained permission from the Iraqis to bury unusable or pasool
fragments of Torah scrolls in the US. The National Archives in
Washington DC will be putting the archive highlights on display. (The exhibition opens on 11 October and will run until 6 January 2014). When the digitizing process is complete, the archive will go back. 

But resistance is building to the transfer. Almost 2,000 people have signeda petition, and several articles have appeared calling for the archive not to go back to Iraq.

Iraq is adamant: It wants the archive back.
“They represent part of our history and part of our identity. There was a
Jewish community in Iraq for 2,500 years,” said Samir Sumaidaie, the
Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “It is time for our property to
be repatriated.”

Repatriated? That assumes that the archive was
Iraq’s property to begin with. There is a bitter irony in Iraq, which
has driven its pre-Islamic Jewish community to extinction, demanding the
return of ‘our property’. 

The US government did the legal thing to sign an agreement with the Iraqis, but was it the moral thing to do?

The archive is the cultural property of the
Iraqi-Jewish community, and save for five Jews still in Baghdad, that
community no longer lives in Iraq, but in Israel and the West. To return
the archive to Iraq will be to compound a crime: returning stolen
property to those who stole it.

When Iraq did have a Jewish community, it took
every step to persecute and destroy it. What is there to stop Iraq
losing interest in the archive the minute it arrives back on Iraqi soil?

There are practical objections to return, too.
Despite assurances to the contrary, Iraq itself does not have the
resources to conserve and store the archive safely but would need to
call in experts from the United Arab Emirates.

Even if the archive is digitized and
accessible online, Iraq’s Jews and their descendants, 90 percent of whom
are in Israel, will be debarred from access to the original documents.

The issue of the archive not only draws
attention to the mass spoliation of nearly a million Jews driven from
the Arab world, but is a test case. Here at last is a unique opportunity
to return Jewish property to its rightful owners. Will the US take it

Read article in full

The Jews ‘did not relinquish archive willingly’ – Harold Rhode

Iraq wants archive back without the Jews 

The archive should not return to Iraq – Bruce Montgomery

Archive is the property of Iraqi-Jewish refugees

 It’s as if Jewish bibles were to be sent back to the Nazi SS. Daniel Greenfield sets out compelling arguments in Front Page magazine why the Jewish archive should not go back to Iraq: 

Despite that the Obama administration plans to send the Jewish Archiveconsisting ofreligious artifacts, bibles,
marriage contracts, community records and private notebooks seized by
the Iraqi Secret Police from the Jewish community back to Iraq.

The material is not the property of the Iraqi government, either
Saddam’s regime which stole it, or its Shiite successor which claims to
want it, but not the Jews who owned it. It’s the property of Iraqi Jewish refugees andtheir reconstituted communities in America, Israel and anywhere else.

The personal material, like marriage contracts and school books,
should go to the families that owned them and to their descendants. The
religious material, which a Muslim country that purged its Jewish and
Christian communities has no use for, should go Iraqi Jewish religious
communities wherever they are now.

Jewish bibles seized from the custody of the Nazi SS would not be
sent to the German government. There is no reason to send Jewish bibles
into the custody of the Iraqi government.

To its credit, the State Department in the past, which paid for the
salvage and restoration of the records, did ask Iraq nicely. And the
Iraqis have always insisted on seizing the Jewish Archive.

Read article in full

How Alaska saved 50,000 Yemeni Jews

 A new museum in the state of Alaska  has a tribute to the strangest mission Alaska Airlines has ever carried out: the airlift of 50, 000 Yemeni Jews to Israel 65 years ago. Expert piece of sleuthing by Elder of Ziyon:

From the end of 1948 to the fall of 1950, Alaska Airlines
took part in the airlift of 50,000 Jews from Yemen to the newly created
nation of Israel. Known as Operation Magic Carpet, Alaska Airlines
employees flew in perilous conditions while helping to fulfill a
Biblical prophecy that said the Yemenite Jews would return to their
homeland “on the wings of eagles.”

than 60 years later a new museum in the state of Alaska pays tribute to
this piece of Alaska Airlines history. The Alaska Jewish Museum’s first
featured exhibit, “On the Wings of Eagles: Alaska’s Contribution to
Operation Magic Carpet,” tells the story of a young Alaska Airlines and
its employees’ heroic efforts to avert a humanitarian crisis during a
trying time in world history.

“We decided to have the ‘On the Wings of Eagles’ exhibit
at the museum because of the unique melding of energies between
disparate groups (Alaska Airlines, the American Jewish Joint
Distribution Committee, the State of Israel and the American government)
to ensure the rescue of virtually an entire population from devastating
circumstances,” says Leslie Fried, the museum’s curator.

The Yemenite Jews in Aden were living under extremely harsh conditions
in the years prior to and immediately following the birth of the State
of Israel.

At the time, Alaska Airlines was the largest non-scheduled carrier in
the world. When the American Joint Distribution Committee contacted
Alaska President James A. Wooten, he was moved after seeing the terrible
conditions under which the Yemenite Jews lived in the Aden ghetto
created by the British.

Throughout the next two years Captains Sam Silver, Warren Metzger,
navigator Elgen Long and Chief Pilot Robert McGuire Jr. along with many
others airlifted 50,000 Jews to Tel Aviv. The approximately 430 flights
Alaska Airlines made were treacherous. Fuel was difficult to obtain,
flight and maintenance crews had to be positioned throughout the Middle
East and sandstorms wreaked havoc on the plane engines. There were no
deaths during the flights though one plane was forced to make a
crash-landing after the loss of an engine.

The exhibit provides a detailed look of the history of Operation Magic
Carpet through historic artifacts, such as the jacket worn by Capt.
Metzger and video footage of pilots sharing their airlift experiences.
An interactive map also illustrates for visitors where the planes
traveled while transporting the refugees.

More from the Alaska Airlines site:

When Alaska Airlines sent them on “Operation Magic Carpet”
50 years ago, Warren and Marian Metzger didn’t realize they were
embarking on an adventure of a lifetime.

Metzger, a DC-4 captain, and Marian, a flight attendant, were part of
what turned out to be one of the greatest feats in Alaska Airlines’
67-year history: airlifting thousands of Yemenite Jews to the newly
created nation of Israel.

The logistics of it all made the task daunting. Fuel was hard to come
by. Flight and maintenance crews had to be positioned through the Middle
East. And the desert sand wreaked havoc on engines.

It took a whole lot of resourcefulness the better part of 1949 to do it.
But in the end, despite being shot at and even bombed upon, the mission
was accomplished—and without a single loss of life.

“One of the things that really got to me was when we were unloading a
plane at Tel Aviv,” said Marian, who assisted Israeli nurses on a number
of flights. “A little old lady came up to me and took the hem of my
jacket and kissed it. She was giving me a blessing for getting them
home. We were the wings of eagles.”

For both Marian and Warren, the assignment came on the heels of flying
the airline’s other great adventure of the late 1940s: the Berlin

“I had no idea what I was getting into, absolutely none,” remembered
Warren, who retired in 1979 as Alaska’s chief pilot and vice president
of flight operations. “It was pretty much seat-of-the-pants flying in
those days. Navigation was by dead reckoning and eyesight. Planes
were getting shot at. The airport in Tel Aviv was getting bombed all the
time. We had to put extra fuel tanks in the planes so we had the range
to avoid landing in Arab territory.”

British officials advised them that Arabs, angry over the
establishment of the Jewish state, would certainly kill all the
passengers and likely the whole crew if they were forced to land on Arab
. Many planes were shot at.

Read post in full

Yemen airlift pilot to receive honour


This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.