Shlomo Hillel z"l
One of the founders of the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center
We lost a great leader that devoted all his life to his people and his country. He lives modestly and avoided publicity. His home was astonishingly modest but nice and inviting to his friends.
Shlomo Hillel was born in Bagdad in 1923 and ascended to Israel in 1934, he attended the Hertzeliah Gymnasium in Tel-Aviv and was among the founders of Scout Group A which established Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael.
Hillel was a central figure in organizing the illegal emigration of Jews from Iraq to Israel. Especially noteworthy in its originality and boldness is the clandestine Operation Michaelberg in 1947, in which he flew Jews from Baghdad Airport to a landing strip in Yavniel in the Galilee, escaping the British embargo on Jewish immigration to Israel.
Further to that he organized the massive exodus of the Jews of Iraq in Operation “Ezra and Nehemiah” in the years 1950-1951.
Shlomo also participated in founding Ayalon Center – the secret armament factory of the Haganah near Rehovot.
After he served in clandestine missions in Iraq and in other Arab countries, he began his public service in 1953, when he was elected to the second Knesset as a member of the Mapai (nowadays Labor) party. He served as a Knesset member until 1959, when he joined the ministry of foreign affairs. He contributed greatly to the path-breaking establishing of African-Israeli relations and served as the Israeli ambassador to several African countries and the U.N. He was appointed as minister in Golda Meir’s government in 1969 and in Yitzhak Rabin’s government in 1974, and was elected as chairman of the 11th Knesset in 1984.
Shlomo Hillel continued to serve his people and his country in a variety of roles until his death.
May his soul rest in peace!