Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Alaska and Operation Magic Carpet

An article on Sarah Palin's ties to the Jewish community in Alaska reveals an interesting piece of history:
Alaska's Jewish Community on Palin Selection

Sarah Palin has established a great relationship with the Jewish community over recent years, and has attended several of our Jewish cultural gala events,” said Rabbi Yossel Greenberg, Chabad emissary in Alaska.

The Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Alaska, Rabbi Yossi Greenberg, said that Alaka's Governor Sarah Palin has "established a great relationship with the Jewish community over recent years, and has attended several of our Jewish cultural gala events,” he told

Palin has shown solidarity with Israel by signing a State of Alaska Resolution recognizing Israel's 60th Anniversary and its relationship with Alaska. In the resolution, Governor Palin pointed to Alaska’s special connection to Israel dating back to Alaska Airlines’ participation in the rescue of 40,000 Yemenite Jews when it airlifted them from Yemen to Tel Aviv during 1948 and 1949.
Alaska Air has a web page about this:
When Alaska Airlines sent them on "Operation Magic Carpet" 50 years ago, Warren and Marian Metzger didn't realize they were embarking on an adventure of a lifetime.

Warren, a DC-4 captain, and Marian, a flight attendant, were part of what turned out to be one of the greatest feats in Alaska Airlines’ 67-year history: airlifting thousands of Yemenite Jews to the newly created nation of Israel.

The logistics of it all made the task daunting. Fuel was hard to come by. Flight and maintenance crews had to be positioned through the Middle East. And the desert sand wreaked havoc on engines.

It took a whole lot of resourcefulness the better part of 1949 to do it. But in the end, despite being shot at and even bombed upon, the mission was accomplished—and without a single loss of life.

..."I had no idea what I was getting into, absolutely none," remembered Warren, who retired in 1979 as Alaska’s chief pilot and vice president of flight operations. "It was pretty much seat-of-the-pants flying in those days. Navigation was by dead reckoning and eyesight. Planes were getting shot at. The airport in Tel Aviv was getting bombed all the time. We had to put extra fuel tanks in the planes so we had the range to avoid landing in Arab territory."

British officials advised them that Arabs, angry over the establishment of the Jewish state, would certainly kill all the passengers and likely the whole crew if they were forced to land on Arab soil. Many planes were shot at.

...Before her Operation Magic Carpet flights in the Middle East, Marian, who retired from Alaska in 1952, assisted on flights from Shanghai transporting Jews who fled to China to escape persecution in Germany. When communists came to power in China, the German Jews took flight again to Israel.

"We had been doing a lot of trips, a lot of different kinds of trips," Marian said. "We realized this was going to be part of the history of Israel, but it seemed like more of an adventure at the time."

In all, with the help of Alaska Airlines, charter carriers and the military, more than 40,000 Yemenite Jews were airlifted to Israel between late 1948 and early 1950.
Read the whole thing.

This is not really related to the question of Sarah Palin's relationship with the Jewish community in Alaska, or what her feelings are about Israel--but it is a fascinating piece of history.

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