Operation Babylon Essay

919 words - 4 pages

Operation Babylon is the story of Shlomo Hillel and his efforts to get Jews from Iraq into Israel. Jews came under increasing duress in Iraq during the time he was active for several reasons. The first is that the British, who had significant influence in the country, were trying to negotiate a new contract with the Iraqi government which would continue their state of significant influence. There was much anger about this within the Iraqi populous and the government worked, sucessfully, to turn that anger against the Jews. The second reason, is that as Israel attained nationhood, hostilities increased against the Jews of Iraq. Zionism and Judaism were looked at as the same thing even when they were clearly not. Hillel worked as a member of the Mossad and found many creative ways to get the Jews safely into Israel, even against great obstacles as diverse as being arrested and convoys toppling in sandstorms.
The smuggling of the Jews of Iraq started by organizing convoys of Jews into Israel with the “Lords of the Desert” but this group proved unreliable. Palestine got caught up in Arab/Jewish violence which distracted from the immigration efforts and Hillel became very frustrated with the Mossad as they almost completely stopped bringing more Jews in. The Jews of Iraq are forced to pay independent smugglers to bring them in, who charge large sums and were often unreliable. Hillel started bringing Jews in via the airport in Tel Aviv. These operations were quite successful, though they did run into trouble occasionally since the airport was run by the British who were under strict orders not to let any Jews in. It was also difficult to get the Jews from the airport into Tel Aviv because the roads were very dangerous.
In Iraq the conditions for Jews continued to decrease. When an assimilated Jewish businessman was arrested on charges of funding Zionism and Communism, given an unfair trial and then hung outside of his house, the Jews in the country find themselves becoming increasingly desperate. Hillel makes plans to return to the country but realizes he can't get directly into Iraq so he instead travels to Iran and sneaks into Iraq. He comes to the conclusion that if he can get Jews from Iraq into Iran they will be safer and then arrangements can be made to get them into Israel. Finally he gets approval for this from the Mossad and once he gets enough funding he starts sending planes with Jews into Israel. The network that Hillel had been operating in Iran and Iraq eventually disintegrates, though he feels as though the operation on the whole has been a success.
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