iran 1950s

10 little known things about Israel’s past

In honor of the Jewish state’s 69th birthday, we present, in no particular order, 10 little-known aspects of modern Israel’s history.

1. El Al used to fly to Tehran.

Iran and Israel enjoyed mostly good relations up until the Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah in 1979. Iran recognized Israel in 1950, becoming the second Muslim-majority country to do so (after Turkey). Iran supplied Israel with oil during the OPEC oil embargo, Israel sold Iran weapons, there was brisk trade between the countries, and El Al flew regular flights between Tel Aviv and Tehran. All that ended a week after the shah’s ouster, when Iran’s new rulers cut ties with Israel and transferred its embassy in Tehran to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Even after 35 years of hostilities, however, Iranians have less antipathy toward Jews than any other Middle Eastern nation. A 2014 global anti-Semitism survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 56 percent of Iranians hold anti-Semitic views — compared to 80 percent of Moroccans and 93 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. For more on Israelis in Iran, check out the 2014 documentary “Before the Revolution.”

2. Israel is home to hundreds of Nazi descendants.

At least 400 descendants of Nazis have converted to Judaism and moved to Israel, according to filmmakers who made a documentary about the phenomenon several years ago. In addition, others converted to Judaism or married Israelis but do not live in the Jewish state – such as Heinrich Himmler’s great-niece, who married an Israeli Jew and lives overseas.

In Israel’s early years, the state was roiled by a debate over whether to accept German reparations for the Holocaust (it did), and Germany remained a controversial subject: From 1956 until 1967, Israel had a ban on all German-produced films.

3. Ben-Gurion invented Israeli couscous (sort of).

The tiny pasta balls known as Israeli couscous – called ptitim in Hebrew – were invented in the 1950s at the behest of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who asked the Osem food company to come up with a wheat-based substitute for rice during a period of austerity in Israel. The invention, which Israelis dubbed “Ben-Gurion’s rice,” was an instant hit.

4. Israel had no TV service till the late ‘60s.

The first Israeli TV transmission did not take place until 1966, and at first was intended only for schools for educational use. Regular public broadcasts began on Israeli Independence Day in May 1968.

This 1958 scene of a family watching television could not have been photographed in Israel, as the Jewish state had no TV until 1966. (Wikimedia Commons/JTA)

For almost two decades more, Israel had only one channel, and broadcasts were limited to specific hours of the day. A second channel debuted in 1986, and cable was introduced in 1990. Today, Israeli TV is a popular source for Hollywood scriptwriters: “Homeland” (Showtime), “In Treatment” (HBO), “Your Family or Mine” (TBS), “Allegiance” (NBC), “Deal With It” (TBS), “Tyrant” and “Boom” (Showtime) all are remakes of Israeli shows.

5. Queen Elizabeth II’s mother-in-law is buried in Jerusalem.

Prince Philip’s mother, born in 1885 as Princess Alice of Battenberg and congenitally deaf, spent much of her life in Greece after marrying Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark (yes, he was simultaneously prince of two different European countries). During the Nazi occupation of Greece, Alice hid a Jewish woman and two of her children from the Nazis, earning her eventual recognition by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial as a “Righteous Among the Nations” and by the British government as a “Hero of the Holocaust.”

She moved to London in 1967 to live in Buckingham Palace with her son and daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II. After the princess died two years later, her body was interred in a crypt at Windsor Castle. In 1988, she was transferred to a crypt at the Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene in Gethsemane on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives – honoring a wish she had expressed before her death. The Mount of Olives is home to the world’s oldest continuously used cemetery.

6. Alaska Airlines airlifted thousands of Yemenite Jews to Israel.

When anti-Jewish riots broke out in Yemen after Israel’s victory in the 1948 War of Independence, Yemen’s Jewish community decided to move en masse to the Jewish homeland. James Wooten, president of Alaska Airlines, was among those moved by their plight. Between June 1949 and September 1950, Alaska Airlines made approximately 430 flights in twin-engine C-46 and DC-4 aircrafts as part of Operation Magic Carpet, the secret mission that transported nearly 50,000 Jews from Yemen to Israel. Pilots had to contend with fuel shortages, sandstorms and enemy fire, and one plane crash-landed after losing an engine, but not a single life was lost aboard the flights.

anonymous asked:

After scrolling through your mutually assured destruction tag, I got quite curious by your headcanon of America. Is it alright to ask that you elaborate on this? I'm curious as to what made you form this headcanon.

haha it’s no problem- I understand your curiosity given how dark I portray Alfred. well the answer is simply- being a history student. This issue interests me considerably, so that’s why I don’t mind going into detail. (warning, LAP:)

I learned Cold War, Civil War and early colonial American history. It’s simply that the real history is so much dirtier than some shining, triumphant narrative of America as the “leader of the free world”, born from the glorious fires of anti-colonial war. It doesn’t seem accurate at all to me if Russia is portrayed as being ruthless and scary and America- who has been equally brutal- isn’t. So…that just doesn’t allow me to portray America as this infinitely cheerful, innocent and stupid idiot. And it is also far, far more interesting to portray a deeper, more layered America. 

“Ruthless” Alfred

The truth is that the idea of “why do they hate us” or “they hate freedom” I see in how some people view America’s enemies is really simplistic. The simple truth is that in a lot of cases, well, Alfred made his own demons. Iran? A 1950s CIA coup that deposed a democratically-elected government and reinstated a much-hated dictator. That’s why when he was overthrown, the new Islamic government was staunchly anti-American. Al-Qaeda? During the Soviet-Afghan war, the CIA again funded and trained the mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets- attracting some radical extremists- one of whom was Osama bin Laden. Basically, in a lot of cases, the US has cynically attempted to manipulate others and unleashed forces beyond its control. However, of course- other big powers such as the UK, Russia and China are guilty of this. 

There is no getting around it- from the beginning, American history is a lot uglier than what the “All men are created equal” in the Constitution promised. America is as big as it is today because of a lot of all Old World-style politicking and violence. Yes- the American Revolutionary War was essentially an anti-colonial war. But it was also a mainstream view to consider America an “empire of liberty”, and many thinkers were obsessed with the idea of Manifest Destiny- the notion that (white) Americans were a chosen people destined to spread over the continent- seizing the land of the “savage” of Native Americans and bringing the light of “civilisation”. And that justified all sorts of horrible policies that pretty much amounted to genocide against Native Americans in the 1800s. There’s also the Mexican-American war, where the US annexed from Mexico 1/3 of its present territory (Texas, California, New Mexico etc etc). There was even an attempt to buy Cuba from the Spanish! 

And of course, this ruthless pursuit of American interests definitely carried over to the 20th century. While most people are pretty aware that the US did lots of hideous things during the Cold War, I noticed there’s an inclination to view this as an aberration: that before the US got involved in WW2, the US didn’t dirty its hands in that manner. And it is plainly not true. 

Keep reading


Tehran, Iran (1950′s)

This is one of the most beautiful videos I have seen of old Tehran, I really recommend checking it out. 


Jewish refugees from Kurdistan in Tehran, Iran, 1950.

In the early twentieth century, there were approximately 12,000 Jews living in various small towns and villages in Eastern Kurdistan. With the increase of anti-Jewish violence and persecution following the establishment of the state of Israel, most Jews left their homes for Tehran, from where they were directed to a large refugee camp administered by the Joint Distribution Committee and airlifted to Israel.


The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has a new exhibition and the lineup of artists is stunning: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, just to name a few.

The art, now worth billions, was bought in the 1970s under Shah Reza Pahlavi, whose coffers were overflowing with oil revenue at the time. The shah sought to modernize and Westernize the country in general, and put his wife, Empress Farah Pahlavi, in charge of acquiring the art.

The result was considered by some to be the greatest collection of contemporary Western masterpieces outside of Europe and North America. The trove includes works by Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh and roughly 30 by Pablo Picasso.

“The latest things that were available in Western galleries, they were bought for the collection here. All the big names from the beginning of the 20th century until the ‘70s, you know, we have them,” Faryar Javaherian, one of the curators of the exhibition

Hidden For Decades, Pollocks, Rothkos And More Go On Display In Iran

Photos: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images