Jews in Islamic countries since the establishment of the State

After the establishment of the State of Israel, emissaries of the Jewish Agency and the Zionist youth movements continued to work among Jewish communities in Islamic countries in order to encourage immigration to Israel. The great wave of immigration to Israel during the 1950's stemmed, on the one hand, from Zionist activity, a feeling of near redemption and the love of Zion, and on the other hand, the deterioration of the attitude of the local authorities towards the Jewish minority. Some of the Islamic countries allowed the Jews to leave, or carried out an organized deportation, and some forbade the departure of Jews. In such cases, the Jews escaped secretly and illegally.​


The State encouraged immigration from these countries, despite the difficulties of mass absorption and the lack of an appropriate infrastructure, but set criteria for granting priority to immigrants. In cases where it was assessed that a Jewish community was in a state of emergency, or was in difficult conditions in the country of origin, the State initiated special rescue operations to bring entire communities to Israel. Major operations were carried out in Yemen (Wings of Eagles), in Iran (Koresh), and in Iraq (Ezra and Nehemiah).

With the mass emigration of Jews from Islamic countries to Israel and the Western countries in the 1950's and 1960's, few Jewish communities remained in the Islamic countries.


Ships and Planes: Aliyah from Islamic countries

 Immigrants from Morocco on their way to Israel, 1950. 
Fritz Schlesinger Collection  (NSC\117292, NSC\117311)
Immigrants from Morocco leaving the ship in the Haifa port, 1950's. 
(Keren Hayesod Collection (NKH\405890
 (A family of immigrants from Iraq arrives in Israel, 1951. Fritz Schlesinger Collection (NSC\103754
A family of immigrants from Iraq receiving immigration certificates, 1951. 
Keren Hayesod Collection  (NKH\401122)
Jewish refugees from Egypt on their way to Israel descend from the deck of an Egyptian ship at
the port of Piraeus in Greece, February 1957. General Collection (PHG\1024087)

Absorption in Israel 
Immigrants from Morocco who were housed in one of the abandoned houses in Jaffa, 1949. 
Keren Hayesod Collection (NKH\478639)
A nurse with a group of immigrants from Yemen, Atlit camp, 1949. 
Photographer: Zoltan Kluger, Keren Hayesod Collection  (PHKH\1285871)
Immigrants from Iraq in the Sha'ar Ha'Aliyah camp near Haifa, 1950s. 
Photographer: Fritz Schlesinger (PHSC\1202707, PHSC\1202708)
A girl who immigrated from Iraq and stayed at a Jerusalem resident's house for
the winter as part of a "roof project" for the children of the transit camps, 1950. 
Keren Hayesod Collection (PHKH\1280992) 
An immigrant from Switzerland teaching immigrants from Iraq and North Africa to play the
recorder, Lehavot Habashan, 1952. Keren Hayesod Collection (PHKH\1273460)
Continuation of Zionist activity
The Second National Conference of Hapoel Hamizrachi in Casablanca,
Morocco, 1951 (PHG\1058413)
A picture from the play "The Trial of Solomon" staged by Bnei Akiva students in
Fez, Morocco, 1954 (PHG\1058406) 
Young WIZO girls from Tunisia visit Tel Aviv, 1955. WIZO collection (PHWI\1247870)