Israel unveils permanent tribute to Operation Michaelberg

Shlomo Hillel was the commander of Operation Michaelberg (Photos: Haim Zach, GPO)

The Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, has inaugurated an exhibit dedicated to clandestine immigration to Israel from Arab countries. The exhibit, at the Atlit Detention Camp museum,  features a replica of the plane used to ferry 100 Jews secretly from Baghdad. It pays tribute to Shlomo Hillel, who initiated Operation Michaelberg, the first attempt to airlift Iraqi Jews in 1947. Michaelberg proved to be a trial run for the airlift of 120,000 Jews on Operation Ezra and Nehemiah (1950 -51).

In his speech, the President spoke of the late Shlomo Hillel, the commander of Operation Michaelberg, and said: “In his final years, Shlomo dreamed a dream here, one of the many dreams that he carried and realized, to illustrate to the general public with an old plane how Operation Michaelberg unfolded, a chapter that is insufficiently known in the history of aerial pre-state immigration. It is this dream, Shlomo’s last, that we are realizing here today, in his honor and in his memory.”

The President added: “Operation Michaelberg, or Operation Wing, to bring Iraqi Jews to Israel, is an important lesson that must be taught and assimilated into our life as a nation and as a state. It is a strong reflection of mutual responsibility, of our responsibility for our people’s fate, and for the fact that the Land of Israel is a home for the Jewish People, all the more so when it is in distress. Shlomo always said that the period of pre-state immigration was one of the most glorious chapters of Israeli history.”

President Herzog at the Atlit exhibit’s inauguration



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