The Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) reported that an airlift was organized in the early 1950s by the Cuban company Intercontinental Aérea de Cuba S.A., owned by businessman Narciso V. Roselló Otero, to fly 150 000 Jewish immigrants to Israel (of which 115 000 were from Iraq and 25 000 from Iran).

These revelations shed light on a little-known operation until now.

In order to colonize Palestine, the Zionist movement planned to displace not only the European survivors of Nazi persecutions, but also the Jewish populations living in the Middle East.

To compel Iraqi Jews to emigrate, the Zionist movement mounted an operation in three stages:
 An agreement was reached with pro-British Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Said to force Iraqi Jews to accept a one-way ticket to Israel. On 9 March 1950, Parliament adopted a law requiring that Iraqi Jews leaving the country had to renounce their citizenship in writing and would not be allowed to return.
 From 19 March 1950 to 30 January 1951, a series of bomb attacks targeted the venues of Jewish congregation. The attacks were falsely attributed to the Golden Square officers (who had sided with Germany against the British during World War II). As it is, they had been orchestrated by Israeli intelligence under the direction of Mordechaï Ben Porat (as endorsed in 1956 by Uri Avnery’s Israeli magazine Haolam Hazeh).
 Immediately, an airlift was set up from Cuba by the dictatorial regime of General Fulgencio Batista enabling the evacuation of 115 000 Jews, terrified by the turn of events. Cuban planes and pilots took off from Baghdad stopping over in Nicosia (Cyprus). Towards the end of the operation, planes with a bigger capacity shuttled from Iraq to Israel directly so as to speed up the operation.

Mordechaï Porat, a terrorist with close ties to David Ben-Gurion, served four times as member of parliament and once as minister without portfolio. In 2001, he was awarded the Israel Prize for the whole of his career and in particular for having pushed Iraqi Jews to emigrate.

Narciso V. Roselló left Cuba for the United States after the attack on his home at the hands of Fidel Castro’s revolutionaries, who thus confiscated the weapons that they used to conquer Havana and overthrow General Batista.


"Pilotos cubanos en la Tierra Santa", by Luis Hernández Serrano, Juventud Rebelde, 16 October 2010.

 Ropes of Sand : America’s Failure in the Middle East, by Wilbur Crane Eveland, WW Norton & Co (1981, 382 p.), ISBN-13 : 978-0393013368.
 Ben Gurion’s Scandal : How the Haganah and the Mossad Eliminated Jews, by Naeim Giladi, Dandelion Books,U.S. (Seconde edition 2003, 364 p.), ISBN-13 : 978-1893302402.