THE RANSOM OF THE JEWS: The Story of the Extraordinary Secret Bargain Between Romania and Israel

Radu Ioanid, Author , afterword by Elie Wiesel. Ivan R. Dee $26 (244p) ISBN 978-1-56663-562-2

Ioanid (The Holocaust in Romania ) sheds light on an extraordinary, little-known and shameful episode that explains some mysteries of international affairs, such as why Romania was the only Soviet bloc country to maintain relations with Israel after the Six-Day War. Drawing on interviews and on highly classified Romanian documents, Ioanid relates how Romania in the 1950s and '60s demanded payments in cash and goods from Israel in exchange for the emigration of Romanian Jews to the Jewish state. A historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Ioanid places these events in the context of a cash-starved Romania, turning away from Russia and eager for Western trade, oil-drilling equipment and agricultural goods. In the late 1960s, the human trade allowed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his family to build their private bank accounts. "Jews, Germans, and oil are our best export commodities," the dictator said in the mid-1970s. He insisted the payments per Jew be determined by his or her "education, profession, employment, and family status." Ioanid carefully follows all the ups and downs in negotiations and relations between Israel and Romania, and the impact of protests from Arab countries and Western demands for human rights. Ioanid does a service in reporting on this sordid tale of exploitation and the trade in human beings. (Jan. 22)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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