After sixty years, the role of five Cuban pilots in airlifting 150,000 Jews from Muslim countries and India can now be revealed, according to Haaretz. Fidel Castro might even have approved. (With thanks: Lily)
Five Cuban pilots were responsible for bringing to Israel 150,000 Jews from Iraq, Iran, India and Yemen during the 1950s, the French daily La Liberation reported on Monday.
According to the report, which is based on an interview the Cuban historian Rolando Marron gave to the Cuban daily Juventud Rebelde, the details of the operation have been kept secret for over 60 years until this past Sunday.
Marron said that among the Jews brought between 1951 and 1952, 115,000 refugees were from Iraq, 25,000 were from Iran, and several hundreds from Yemen and India.
"The condition of the Jewish populations in the surrounding Arab states was difficult due to historic conflicts", Marron was quoted as saying.
"Since the governments of those Arab countries prohibited the Jews to leave by land, and since transport by sea was difficult, the Israeli government organized one of the most important aerial mass migrations in history."
According to the report, the reason for the Cuban involvement was the "strong friendship" between an "important official in the Israeli trade mission in New York and a Cuban businessman" who happened to be one of the pilots.