Israel Record

Immigration to Israel

Immigration: The Early Years
Immigration: Since the 1930's


Israel Record Contents

Seal of State of Israel

IMMIGRANTS TO ISRAEL
1948-1995

U.S.S.R. and.C.I.S. 813,708
Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia 345,753
Romania  273,957
Poland 171,753
Iraq  130,302
Iran 76,000
United States  71,480
Turkey 61,374
Yemen 51,158
Ethiopia 48,624
Argentina 43,990
Bulgaria 42,703
Egypt and Sudan  37,548
Libya 35,865
France  31,172
Hungary 30,316
India 26,759
United Kingdom 26,236
Czechoslovakia 23,984
Germany 17,912
South Africa 16,277
Yugoslavia 10,141
Syria 10,078

(Jerusalem Report Chart)

Immigration:
Since the 1930's

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

In the 1920s and 1930s, the British capitulated to Arab demands to limit Jewish immigration to Palestine and they issued a series of "White Papers" rendering Jewish immigration illegal. The White Paper of 1939 limited Jewish immigration to Palestine at 10,000 people per year for five years. The Haganah and other agencies established a secret, underground network to continue the flow of Jews to Palestine. In the 1930s, this underground network saved many Jews from perishing in Nazi Europe.

OPERATION MAGIC CARPET:
THE JEWS OF YEMEN  COME EN MASSE TO  THE STATE OF ISRAEL

After the creation of the state, Israel initiated emergency, rescue airlifts of endangered Jewish communities. One of the more legendary rescue operations, dubbed Operation Magic Carpet, was the airlifting to Israel of the Jews of Yemen. By September 1950, nearly 50,000 Yemenite Jews were flown to the fledgling nation.

Yemenite Jews made their way to refugee camps in Aden where they then boarded planes to Israel. By the time many reached Aden they were sick and frail; conditions in the camps were poor, at best, and many contracted diseases such as malaria. Traveling the roads to reach the camps was dangerous. Nevertheless, Yemenite Jews flooded Aden, longing for their return to the Holy Land. In 89 flights, a record number of 11,760 people were cleared from the camp and flown to Israel in October 1949 alone.

 THE JEWS OF ETHIOPIA REACH THE PROMISED LAND

Living in mountain villages, the Jews of Ethiopia were separated from mainstream Judaism for over 2,000 years. According to their tradition, the Jews of Ethiopia have been there since the time of King Solomon. Throughout the centuries, they had been subjected to forced conversion, enslavement, prohibitions against emigration and land ownership, restrictions in their communal and religious activities and other forms of persecution. Nevertheless, Ethiopian Jews clung to their traditions and the hope that they would someday return to the land of Israel.

In 1973, Israel's Chief Rabbinate affirmed the Jewishness of Ethiopian Jews, known as Beta Israel "House of Israel. " Israel initiated quiet efforts to rescue Ethiopian Jews in 1979. A famine in 1984 caused a mass exodus of Ethiopian Jews to the Sudanese border. In November 1984 and March 1985, Israel conducted a secret airlift code-named "Operation Moses" and rescued nearly 8,000 Jews from Sudanese refugee camps. Nearly all remaining Ethiopian Jews came to Israel in 1991, when Israel led "Operation Solomon" airlifting 14,000 Beta Israel Jews to Israel.

SOVIET JEWS ESCAPE THE IRON CURTAIN

Trapped behind the Iron Curtain, Soviet Jews were persecuted, discriminated against and barred from openly practicing their faith. Emigration to Israel was illegal. Many Jews sought permission to leave the country and were denied visas. They became known as "refuseniks" and many of them were incarcerated. Since the 1960s, Diaspora Jewry has worked on behalf of the Jews of the former Soviet Union.

Jews from the USSR began arriving in Israel in 1968. About 100,000 Soviet Jews immigrated to Israel in the 1970s. Since the fall of the Soviet empire in 1989, over 700,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union have settled in Israel. Among the new immigrants are highly educated and skilled professionals, scientists, engineers and musicians who are contributing significantly to all aspects of Israeli society. One of the more legendary Soviet Jewish figures is Natan Sharansky, a former imprisoned Soviet dissident who is currently a cabinet minister in Prime Minister Netanyahu's government

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