Israel’s Daring Efforts to Bring Ethiopian Jews to Their Homeland

After his election to the Israeli premiership in 1977, one of Menachem Begin’s first orders to the Mossad was “Bring me the Jews of Ethiopia.” This directive bore fruits, some seven years later, in the form of Operation Moses, a massive effort that clandestinely brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews to the Jewish state. To pull it off, Israeli spies created a fake diving resort on the Sudanese coast as a cover for their activities. The story is the subject of a 2019 film, and also a book by Raffi Berg titled Red Sea Spies. Praising the book as both accurate and “vivid,” Stephen Daisley writes in his review:

By day, [the Mossad agents] ran their diving resort; by night, they snuck Jews out of the refugee camps in Sudan to which they had journeyed. Cut off from other Jews for millennia, the Beta Israel, [as Ethiopian Jews call themselves], believed themselves the last of the Israelites and were astonished to learn that Jews could be Europeans.

Initially, they were spirited through the desert to a coastal point near [the resort]. There, special forces lay waiting with dinghies to row them to a naval ship in the Red Sea, which in turn delivered them “home” to Israel. The risk of discovery and death hung over these danger-drenched night crawls; the dinghies had to be abandoned after Sudanese troops mistook them for smugglers one night and opened fire.

The Mossad switched to airlifts, flying out Beta Israel from a disused British airstrip, although this only drew more attention, and the operatives had a series of close calls. In the end, Jerusalem paid off Khartoum and was allowed to transfer a further 6,000 Jews to Israel, provided they did so in secrecy, for the Sudanese president Jaafar Nimeiri feared a backlash from Arab allies.

The scope of the operation was as breathtaking as it was daring. “What the Mossad’s mission amounted to,” Berg writes, “was having to engineer a mass exodus of an unknown number of nationals of a foreign, hostile state, people who spoke no Hebrew, were antiquated in their ways, barely traveled, and distrusted strangers.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Ethiopian Jews, Menachem Begin, Mossad, Sudan

Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security