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The Ransom of the Jews: The Story of Extraordinary Secret Bargain Between Romania and Israel

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After 1948, the 370,000 surviving Jews of Romania became one of the main sources of immigration for the new state of Israel. With the exception of a period in the early 1950s, almost all Romanian Jews left their homeland in several waves to settle in Palestine and Israel. Behind Romania's decision to allow its Jews to leave were practical economic and political reasons: Is After 1948, the 370,000 surviving Jews of Romania became one of the main sources of immigration for the new state of Israel. With the exception of a period in the early 1950s, almost all Romanian Jews left their homeland in several waves to settle in Palestine and Israel. Behind Romania's decision to allow its Jews to leave were practical economic and political reasons: Israel paid for them, and Romania wanted influence in the Middle East. The trade satisfied both states and is still considered a highly confidential matter. In The Ransom of the Jews, Radu Ioanid of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum traces the intriguing story of this secret exchange. Drawing upon restricted archival records and interviews with agents and others directly involved in the operation, he describes how Israel--not without second thoughts--traded cash, agricultural products, and sometimes political influence to ensure the emigration of Jews from Romania. The price was $2,000 to $3,300 per head, and also involved trade and loan considerations. This privileged relationship between the two countries allowed Israel after 1967 to maintain in Bucharest its only embassy in the East European Communist bloc. It also permitted Nicolae Ceausescu, the anti-Semitic Romanian president, to emerge as a mediator in the Middle East peace process, in which he hoped to use Israel to improve his own relations with the United States. In 1978, during the Jimmy Carter administration, Mr. Ioanid reveals, Washington learned of the sale of Romanian Jews to Israel but turned its eyes for reasons ostensibly related to its policies toward the Soviet Union. In all, some 235,000 Jews emigrated from Romania to Israel under the agreement, which ended with the fall of the Ceausescu regime.


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After 1948, the 370,000 surviving Jews of Romania became one of the main sources of immigration for the new state of Israel. With the exception of a period in the early 1950s, almost all Romanian Jews left their homeland in several waves to settle in Palestine and Israel. Behind Romania's decision to allow its Jews to leave were practical economic and political reasons: Is After 1948, the 370,000 surviving Jews of Romania became one of the main sources of immigration for the new state of Israel. With the exception of a period in the early 1950s, almost all Romanian Jews left their homeland in several waves to settle in Palestine and Israel. Behind Romania's decision to allow its Jews to leave were practical economic and political reasons: Israel paid for them, and Romania wanted influence in the Middle East. The trade satisfied both states and is still considered a highly confidential matter. In The Ransom of the Jews, Radu Ioanid of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum traces the intriguing story of this secret exchange. Drawing upon restricted archival records and interviews with agents and others directly involved in the operation, he describes how Israel--not without second thoughts--traded cash, agricultural products, and sometimes political influence to ensure the emigration of Jews from Romania. The price was $2,000 to $3,300 per head, and also involved trade and loan considerations. This privileged relationship between the two countries allowed Israel after 1967 to maintain in Bucharest its only embassy in the East European Communist bloc. It also permitted Nicolae Ceausescu, the anti-Semitic Romanian president, to emerge as a mediator in the Middle East peace process, in which he hoped to use Israel to improve his own relations with the United States. In 1978, during the Jimmy Carter administration, Mr. Ioanid reveals, Washington learned of the sale of Romanian Jews to Israel but turned its eyes for reasons ostensibly related to its policies toward the Soviet Union. In all, some 235,000 Jews emigrated from Romania to Israel under the agreement, which ended with the fall of the Ceausescu regime.

36 review for The Ransom of the Jews: The Story of Extraordinary Secret Bargain Between Romania and Israel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    A very interesting topic poorly presented. Facts and figures could have been better streamlined and simplified, events chronologically depicted to keep them from being overwhelming or confusing (because let's face it-- there comes a point when numbers and acronyms for Romanian agencies cease to mean anything, and foreign names can be hard to grasp and remember). Also, towards the end, a lot of statements and data became somewhat repetitious. A very interesting topic poorly presented. Facts and figures could have been better streamlined and simplified, events chronologically depicted to keep them from being overwhelming or confusing (because let's face it-- there comes a point when numbers and acronyms for Romanian agencies cease to mean anything, and foreign names can be hard to grasp and remember). Also, towards the end, a lot of statements and data became somewhat repetitious.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ovidiu Ivan

  3. 4 out of 5

    luk

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mihai Lukács

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Wolinsky

  6. 5 out of 5

    Octavian

  7. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jon8419

  9. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    I read this book for one very specific reason: my late grandparents were caught up in exactly what the subject of the book is, and I wanted very much to learn as much about the circumstances as I possibly could. I got close to exactly what I was looking for, and the rest of the incredible story is absolutely gravy. The author reveals things here that really put his neck on the line. Deep, dark, secret stuff. His sources clearly put themselves at risk as well. This was a bold undertaking. Turns out I read this book for one very specific reason: my late grandparents were caught up in exactly what the subject of the book is, and I wanted very much to learn as much about the circumstances as I possibly could. I got close to exactly what I was looking for, and the rest of the incredible story is absolutely gravy. The author reveals things here that really put his neck on the line. Deep, dark, secret stuff. His sources clearly put themselves at risk as well. This was a bold undertaking. Turns out, my grandparents emigrated to the Holy Land during a very specific window of accommodation, in early 1951 specifically, and all other opportunities to emigrate being frought with dictatorial national whims, rejections, and difficulty. This book is a great service to me and my family, and is enabling me to write my grandfather's memoirs with good information. Therefore, I bless the name of Radu Ioanid. Now then, during this permissive period of emigration, my grandfather spoke of posters put up in Romania, inviting people to travel to the Holy Land. I understand these posters were up for a very limited time. I would surrender a fortune to get my hands on one of these posters. I put this request into the universe, and am hopeful for what returns.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lance

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cristi Crivăț

  12. 5 out of 5

    Randolph Parrish

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ariel Burbaickij

  14. 4 out of 5

    Florin

  15. 4 out of 5

    Krisztina Bogoşi

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bogdan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  18. 5 out of 5

    Camelia

  19. 4 out of 5

    miha ahronovitz

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gal

  21. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Philippa

  22. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

  23. 5 out of 5

    abcdefg

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  25. 4 out of 5

    Killearnan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ramona

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mara Dan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Benarroch

  30. 4 out of 5

    anca dc

  31. 5 out of 5

    Vio

  32. 4 out of 5

    Lara

  33. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

  35. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

  36. 4 out of 5

    Barbie N

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