SECRET EXODUS by Claire Safran

SECRET EXODUS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A harrowing account of Operation Moses--the dramatic rescue of over 10,000 Ethiopian Jews by airlift from the Sudan to Israel--by Reader's Digest editor Safran. At Passover tables all over the world, Jews pronounce the traditional words, ""Next year in Jerusalem."" This is a gripping story of a group of downtrodden, harassed Ethiopian Jews, the legendary descendants of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, who took those words seriously. Writing in the style of an international spy thriller, and focusing on one family, Safran tells their story (one so sensitive that many of the leading figures, including key US State Department officials, are sheltered by pseudonyms). It is this: after Haile Selassie was overthrown in the mid-1970's and replaced by a Marxist faction, Ethiopian Jews found themselves threatened by a ""black holocaust"" of religious persecution. They sought a way out, and international forces--Israeli, British, American--conspired to help them. Gideon (a composite figure) serves as Safran's focal point as he acts as vanguard, protector, and instructor to his people, assisting them in their dramatic escape. All told, some 12,000 men, women, and children made the long, arduous journey from their scattered villages, aided by false passports, well-placed bribes to guards at checkpoints, sometimes good luck, and the good will of foreigners who weren't willing to turn their backs. Safran ties the story to other important international initiatives, including the Iran arms controversy. (As Shimon Peres explained after that story broke, ""When we needed help with the Ethiopian Jews, the Americans said yes. So when they asked us to help with their hostages, we too said yes."") Other ramifications included the show trial of the Vice President of the Sudan--""where no good deed goes unpunished""--over his role in the airlift. An inspiring story in the tradition of Entebbe, and well told.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1987
Publisher: Prentice Hall Press