Operation Solomon: The Daring Rescue of the Ethiopian Jews

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Overview

"Operation Solomon" was one of the most remarkable rescue efforts in modern history, in which more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in little more than a day. In this riveting volume, Stephen Spector offers the definitive account of this incredible story, based on over 200 interviews and exclusive access to confidential documents.
Written with the pace and immediacy of a novel, here is the dramatic story of the rescue of the dark-skinned Jews of Ethiopia. Spector recounts how 20,000 Jews were willingly lured from their ancestral villages to Addis Ababa, expecting to be taken quickly from there to the Holy Land. Instead, they became pawns in a struggle between the Israeli government and Ethiopia's repressive dictator, who tried to coerce Israel into selling him weapons he needed in a losing war against rebel armies. In the resulting stalemate, the Jewish community was forced to live for nearly a year in squalid hovels, vulnerable to the dangers of the city, including crime and HIV. Worse yet, the imminent collapse of Addis Ababa, with the rebels closing in on the capital, raised the threat of bloody street fighting or even a genocidal attack on the Jews, a small minority in a nation that is primarily Christian and Muslim. Spector describes the tense negotiations among Israelis, Ethiopians, and Americans, which became increasingly urgent as time ran low and the danger mounted. And he highlights the secret deals and sudden setbacks that nearly aborted the mission at the eleventh hour, even as Israeli jets sat on the runway in Ethiopia, waiting to take the Jews to the land for which they had yearned for generations.
Recounting the full story for the first time, Operation Solomon is a stirring account of a heroic rescue achieved in the face of daunting odds.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A meticulous, well-written account of the events leading up to and including the Israeli airlift of 14,310 Ethiopian Jews. The book has the ring of authority, and reads like a novelistic thriller. [Spector's] book is the most judicious and accurate record of Operation Solomon we are likely to get." —American Jewish History

"A meticulous, well-written account of the events leading up to and including the Israeli airlift of 14,310 Ethiopian Jews. The book has the ring of authority, and reads like a novelistic thriller. [Spector's] book is the most judicious and accurate record of Operation Solomon we are likely to get." —American Jewish History

"An impressive exercise in forensic documentary, with skeletons pulled out of unknown closets, X-rayed, dusted, and added to our collective knowledge.... The pace of the narrative is that of a fast-moving thriller.... After launching an eight-year, tri-continental archival odyssey, meticulously reconfirmed in 200 interviews, Spector leaves no question unasked, and almost none unanswered."—Amir Shaviv, The Forword

"Valuable...fascinating...crisply told.... Perhaps no story encapsulates both the promise and problems of Jewish migration to Israel better than the tale of the black Jews of Ethiopia."—Charles Lane, Washington Post Book World

"Stephen Spector tells the riveting story behind the story of how the United States joined with Israel in the humanitarian effort that resulted in Operation Solomon. Against the dramatic backdrop of the transition from despotism to democracy in Ethiopia, the Falashas were willing to risk everything in order to achieve their dream of living in Israel. Their story is an inspiration and a testament to the power of diplomacy, and of faith." —Brent Scowcroft, former U.S. National Security Advisor

"Finally the saga of Operation Solomon, the remarkable rescue of 14,000 Falashas, the Black Jews of Ethiopia, has been meticulously researched and accurately told. Stephen Spector tells the story in a manner so riveting that readers will find this book hard, indeed almost impossible to put down. It's a wonderful story and this book is a service to the history of the event." —Rudy Boschwitz, former U.S. Senator, Minnesota

"Spector describes the tense negotiations among Israelis, Ethiopians and Americans, which became increasingly urgent as time ran low and danger mounted. He highlights the secret deals and sudden setbacks that nearly aborted the mission at the eleventh hour."—Jerusalem Post

"In his extensively researched and engagingly written book, Stephen Spector uncovers the story of the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel—a story of intrigue, hardship, and amazing courage. An invaluable contribution to the study of modern Jewish history, Israel, and the Middle East." —Michael Oren, author of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East

"Operation Solomon is the best and most insightful account of the evacuation of the Beta Israel from war-torn Ethiopia to 'the promised land.' With access to the confidential files of the organizations and personalities who made it happen, Spector guides the reader through a saga replete with intrigue, daring, and ultimate joy. The author does not resolve all the conflicting claims or assertions in this complex history, but lays out the facts with scrupulous scholarship, allowing the reader to draw his own conclusions. Operation Solomon, obviously, was a labor of love for Spector and it resonates in his artful and sensitive prose." —Robert Houdek, Chief of Mission, American Embassy in Ethiopia, 1988-1991

"Operation Solomon describes vividly and meticulously the 1991 rescue of 14,000 Ethiopian Jews from the throes of civil war and misery in Addis Ababa. Fantastic by any standard, Operation Solomon is a shining beacon in the dramatic saga of Jewish ingathering, perhaps the most authentic realization of Zionism. The author has skillfully knitted together all aspects of this unique, complex venture. As one of the Operation's architects I can vouch for the accuracy of his description; by reviving the story Spector has indeed scored a major achievement." —Reuven Merhav, former Director General, Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs

"Spector recounts the events leading up to the operation and its aftermath with excitement and aplomb, and in exquisite detail." —Studies in Contemporary Jewry

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195177824
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/15/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Spector is Professor of English at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Hebrew University, a Fellow at the National Humanities Center, and Senior Research Fellow at Wesleyan University.

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