This week in Israeli history

(From left) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, U.S. President George W. Bush and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas address the Annapolis Conference on Nov. 27, 2007.   

Nov. 21, 1984: Operation Moses

Working with the CIA and Sudanese State Security, the Mossad launches Operation Moses to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Almost 8,000 Ethiopians are flown from refugee camps in Sudan via Brussels to Israel in less than seven weeks. The operation ends Jan. 5, 1985, after it is publicized. A CIA mission, Operation Joshua, then carries up to 800 people to Israel. An additional 14,000 Ethiopians reach Israel in Operation Solomon in 1991.

Nov. 22, 1923: Actress born

Hannele Meierzak, who as Hanna Maron is recognized by Guinness as the actor with the world’s longest stage career, is born in Berlin. She starts acting as a child, including an uncredited role in the Fritz Lang film “M,” before her family makes aliyah in 1933. She builds her acting reputation with Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theater beginning in 1945. She has a leg amputated after a terrorist attack at the Munich airport in 1970 but is acting again within a year.


Nov. 23, 1926: Spymaster Rafi Eitan is born

Rafi Eitan, whose intelligence career ranges from the high of leading the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960 to the low of handling U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard as a spy in 1984 and 1985, is born on a kibbutz at Ein Harod. A veteran of the Palmach, he works for Israel’s secret service, the Mossad, then becomes the chief of operations of Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency. He serves in the Knesset from 2006 to 2009 and dies in March 2019.

Nov. 24, 2006: Rapist escapes

Benny Sela, convicted in 2000 of committing 14 sexual assaults in Tel Aviv, escapes on his way from prison in Beersheba to a court hearing in Tel Aviv. While handcuffed, he scales a 7½-foot fence and flees to northern Israel. He remains at large amid a national manhunt involving 2,000 officers until he is captured on a kibbutz in the western Galilee on Dec. 8. He has four years added to his original sentence of 35 years and nine months. 

Nov. 25, 1940: Patria is sunk

The Haganah sets off a bomb aboard the SS Patria in Haifa’s harbor to prevent British officials from shipping more than 1,700 Jews seeking refuge in Mandatory Palestine to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. The intent is to disable the ship, but instead it sinks within 16 minutes and kills 267 people, including members of the crew. The survivors are allowed to stay in Palestine, but 1,560 others who arrived Nov. 24 are still sent to Mauritius. 

Nov. 26, 2013: Arik Einstein dies

An aortic aneurysm kills beloved singer/songwriter Arik Einstein at age 74 in Tel Aviv, leading thousands of fans to gather the next day in Rabin Square. A Tel Aviv native and star high school athlete, Einstein took up music during his military service. He blended folk and rock music across about 50 albums and was a driving force in the development of Israeli rock. The newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth called him Israel’s all-time best singer in 2012.  

Nov. 27, 2007: Understanding signed at Annapolis

A one-day conference involving representatives of 50 nations in Annapolis, Maryland, produces a joint statement from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President George W. Bush about their peace goals and approach. The Palestinians and Israelis agree to engage in direct negotiations on final-status issues to achieve a two-state solution under U.S. auspices. The initiative, however, goes nowhere.  

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.