"Killing Three Birds With One Stone": The Microsoft UP - ISEF Project
Dr. Sydney Engelberg
A slight young Ethiopian adult we can call Simon has one ambition. He dreams of becoming a lawyer. His dream has a long history, for Simon is an Ethiopian Jew. His story, or rather the story of his family, begins in November 1989, when Ethiopia and Israel reached an agreement that would allow Ethiopian Jews to move to Israel under the context of family reunification. With this resumption of diplomatic relations, the Ethiopian government soon after indicated that it was willing to allow immigration to Israel beyond the original framework of reunification.
Between January 1990 and May 1991, 8,500 Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel. In May 1991, rebel forces overthrew Mengitsu’s dictatorship and by mid-year claimed control of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. Prospects for retrieving the remaining 14,500 Beta Israel were beginning to look very bleak.
Realizing the need for immediate action, the Jewish Agency and the Israeli Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, initiated what would become one of the quickest and most amazing rescue efforts in history. Beginning on Friday, May 24th, El Al, Israel’s national airline, flew 36 jumbo jets and Hercules military transport planes for 36 hours straight. All of the interior seats were removed to accommodate the maximum number of passengers.
Operation Solomon, named after the king from whom the Beta Israel draw their lineage, ended almost as quickly as it began. Timing was critical since the fickle rebel forces could easily change their minds and use the Beta Israel as bargaining tools for more power with Israel or the United States.
As Jews around the world were preparing for the end of the Sabbath, they were greeted with the amazing news of Operation Solomon: within 36 hours, a total of 14,310 Ethiopian Jews were rescued and resettled in Israel by the Jewish Agency....