This morning, February 19, 2009, we awoke to the dramatic report that our Jewish Agency had once again succeeded in rescuing Jews in dire circumstances and brought them home. In a "Breaking News" e-mail, JAFI announced: "The most dramatic moments in Jewish history have once again taken place in Ben Gurion airport minutes ago: 10 Jews from Yemen landed in Israel as part of a Jewish Agency special rescue and aliyah operation. It's a moment that captures who we are as a people, who we are as the Jewish State, and who we are as the Jewish Agency." The story of this rescue reminded all of us, if we needed reminding, of what our partner, our agent, is capable of on our behalf. It got me to thinking of what might be the headlines next year................................
'BREAKING NEWS" FROM UJC
An Incredible Rescue from Iran, UJC Apologizes for Confusion, Loss of Life
February 19, 2010. From Ben Gurion Airport. Adam Smolyar reporting for UJC.United Jewish Communities just completed the rescue of three Iranians from Tehran, in a rescue operation "...as dramatic as any undertaken by JAFI in the past," reported former UJC Board Chair Joe Kanfer, who led the clandestine operation. Here's the incredible story as told to us by Jim Lodge, UJC's Senior Vice-President, Planning Tables and Clandestine Operations, and Kanfer himself.
"We were sitting at the Planning Tables trying to figure out something to do last March and someone from Boston suggested we rescue the Iranian Jewish community. Everybody thought this would (a) be a great thing for UJC and (b) would give our huge UJC Israel staff something
to do." "Wow," I said, "and what happened next?" "Well we asked Joe Kanfer to lead the rescue -- actually, Joe appointed himself to lead it -- and then we sat back until Joe gave us the plan thirty days later." "Wow, and what happened next?" "Well, this is the most exciting part -- we mobilized the Boston and San Francisco amutot in Israel as our emissaries. With Joe and our UJC Israel staff, they entered Iran disguised as Purell sales representatives in April 2009. And they had been working on the ground in Iran to recruit Jews to make aliyah." "Wow, and what happened next?" "Well, there were a few problems: none of these UJC emissaries spoke Farci; they couldn't find anyone to talk to -- although quite a few Iranians were interested in Purell; and the Jews they were able to find were more afraid of the UJC representatives than they were of Ahmadinejad." "Wow, what happened next," I asked?
At this point, Joe Kanfer, still in disguise, picked up the scenario: "We had been on the ground for six months without any progress -- other than that we sold three years' worth of orders for Purell. I told our 'emissaries' it was now or never -- after all, I was now Past Chair of UJC. So we went into a synagogue, saw a minyan, kidnapped the ten Jews from their prayers and headed to the Airport like Chuck Norris in Delta Force. Unfortunately, all ten Jews resisted and in the ensuing gun battle we lost seven of them. They're gone...but it was for a great cause."
"Well, what a story. It's still great that you were able to rescue three Iranian Jews through UJC's efforts." "Wellll, not quite," responded Joe. "The other three from the minyan escaped at Imam Khomeini International. We had to act quickly, so we kidnapped these three guys. Turns out they're Shiites but we still proved the power of a great plan. Next time we'll execute our plan better." I bravely asked: "Couldn't the Jewish Agency have done this better?" Kanfer responded: "First, you're fired. Second, JAFI is so yesterday, so 1975 -- could JAFI have mobilized Boston and San Francisco and mounted this effort on behalf of the federation system? Of course not. And we do apologize for the loss of lives and promise to ask JAFI to return these Shiites we brought here in this daring rescue as soon as possible -- after all, it's JAFI's fault that we took the wrong guys."
Perhaps anticipating this Post, UJC issued its own statement on the Yemeni rescue that fills me with pride -- turns out this rescue was UJCs achievement:
UJC/Jewish Federations of North America Help JAFI's Rescue of Yemenite Jews
Another dramatic moment in Jewish history took place at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport today...as part of a secret operation by the Jewish Agency for Israel, which is supported the UJC/Jewish Federations of North America.
....JAFI launched a special operation to bring Yemenite Jewish community members to Israel. UJC's Becky Caspi was there to welcome the new immigrants."
1. Nice picture of Becki Caspi with the Yemenite Jews if you go to the link
2. Note the new name of our national entity "UJC/Jewish Federations of North America -- "a rose is a rose is a rose"