Aug. 16, 1966 — Israel Obtains Iraqi MiG-21

Operation Diamond, the plan to obtain a Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jet, succeeds when disillusioned Iraqi-Christian fighter pilot Munir Redfa lands an Iraqi air force MiG-21 at Israel’s Hatzor Air Force Base. Redfa, escorted in by two Israeli Mirage jets, had cut a deal with the Mossad that included a $1 million payment, Israeli citizenship for himself and his family, and guaranteed full-time employment.

Aug. 17, 1898 — First Conference of Russian Zionists Held

A few weeks before the Second Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, 160 Russian Zionists from 93 cities and towns in Russia meet secretly in Warsaw, where organizer Ahad Ha’am rallies support for a Jewish cultural renaissance before any Zionist political actions. 

Aug. 18, 2000 — Archaeologist Claire Epstein Dies

Archaeologist Claire Epstein, a London native who participated in many archaeological surveys and excavations in Israel, including discovering the culture of the Chalcolithic Period (4500 to 3300 B.C.E.) in the Golan, dies at age 88 at Kibbutz Ginossar. 

Aug. 19, 1856 — Michah Joseph Berdichevski Is Born

Scholar and writer Michah Joseph Berdichevski is born in Ukraine. He writes short stories, novels and essays in Yiddish and German, but he is best known for his Hebrew writings, including a lengthy debate with Ahad Ha’am about the nature of Hebrew literature. Berdichevski’s insistence on the value of secular Hebrew literature inspires younger writers. He also spends years recording Jewish folklore. 

Aug. 20, 1920 — Yishuv Publishes First Medical Journal

The first Hebrew-language medical journal in Palestine, Harefuah (Medicine), begins publishing on a quarterly schedule under the auspices of the Jewish Medical Association of Palestine. The editor is ophthalmologist Aryeh Feigenbaum, who as a teenager in Poland told a friend that he would become a doctor, move to Palestine and found the first medical journal there in Hebrew. The journal is still published monthly by the Israel Medical Association.

Aug. 21, 1982 — Troops Arrive to Oversee PLO Withdrawal

American, French and Italian troops arrive in Lebanon’s capital to supervise the evacuation of about 14,000 PLO fighters through Sept. 1. Yasser Arafat leaves Beirut on Aug. 30. Eight countries agree to offer asylum to the PLO. Driving terrorists and Syrian forces from Beirut is one of Israel’s principal goals in the 1982 Lebanon War.

Aug. 22, 1952 — First Israel Bonds Mission Begins

The Development Corporation for Israel, now commonly known as Israel Bonds, brings 22 American Jewish leaders to Israel on a 15-day American Champions of Israel Bonds mission, the first of its kind. The launch of American-purchased Israel Bonds in 1951 helped stabilize the economy of the young state.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education.


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