On Sunday, June 21, Anna, Becki, Jessie and I went to visit Anna’s Great Uncle, Shlomo Hillel. She gave us a brief background that he was somewhat important in Israeli history and a cute old man that lives in Ranana, outside of Tel Aviv. Our research paper topic is Immigration and Government and little did we know our visit to Ranana would enable our paper to, for lack of better words, come to life.
Guest blogger: Rachel is a sophomore a the University of Michigan
Shlomo Hillel, an Iraqi Jew, who came to Israel as a teenager to join his brothers, was the momentous figure to aid the immigration of thousands of Iraqi Jews to Israel, through Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.
From 1950 to 1952, Operation Ezra and Nehemiah airlifted between 120,000 and 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel via Iran and Cyprus. The massive emigration of Iraqi Jews was among the most climactic events of the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries. By 1968, only 2,000 Jews remained in Iraq. – Wikipedia
He went on to tell us his experience in the government.
As a Knesset member and then Speaker of the Knesset by the end of his career, Hillel played a large role in the formation of policy under great Prime Ministers, such as Golda Meir. The four of us were consumed with what Hillel had to say and his thoughts about Israeli business, immigration and government. Shlomo continued to name his partners and friends when describing all the operations and policies he was involved in. This demonstrates the value of respect and teamwork that this country was built upon.
One of the best parts about Israel is the ability to meet people who have single-handedly shaped the country to be what it is today. In America, George Washington is not walking around the streets of Washington D.C. On the other hand, we had the opportunity to meet a man who saved the lives of thousands of Iraqi Jews and lead the Knesset to create change in the 1980s.
Image: Police minister Hillel inspects his troops in the 1970s ; (photo credit:COURTESY SHLOMO HILLEL) Jerusalem Post