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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.
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This is one of those rare books that is both an invaluable primary source and an occasion for profound thought. (Andrei Codrescu, NPR commentator, professor of English, Louisiana State University, author of The Hole in the Flag: an Exile’s Story of Return and Revolution)
Carefully documented…. This work is essential for academic collections as a supplement to any histories of Romania. (Library Journal)
…Intriguing story… (Forbes)
…Important as an official report… (Marina Constantinoiu Jurnalul National)
Ioanid doesn't shy away from telling us who Ceausescu really was…. Ioanid does a good job explaining th[e] context. (Gal Beckerman Forward)
The book is a shattering document, a story superbly told, which makes it a non-stop read. (Baruch Cohen Montreal Gazette)
“A fascinating story, written by the energetic and knowledgeable Radu Ioanid. The book is a shattering document, a story superbly told, as well as an opportunity to learn about the vicious character of the anti-Semitic face of Romania's Communist leaders. It should be translated into Hebrew, so that the second and third generations of Romanian Jews in Israel, will know how their grandparents and parents were treated by their “homeland.”” (Baruch Cohen Ynetnews.Com)
Ioanid writes with verve, enlivening his narrative with generous quotations from people he has interviewed, from all sides, who were directly involved in the deals, and from memoir literature. There are several comic cameos, such as the temporary loss in Zurich Airport of a suitcase containing $1 million in ransom money. But, as Andrei Codrescu, who was among the Jews ransomed by Israel, writes in his endorsement, Radu Ioanid's finely researched book highlights the ambiguity of a morally reprehensible policy that resulted paradoxically in freedom for many. (Dennis Deletant, University College, London and Georgetown University Times Literary Supplement)
A concise chronicle.... This book tells an exciting story of daring, steadfast commitment to the rescue of entrapped Jews... (Jewish Book World)
An important book.... Recommended. (J. Fischel, Millersville University CHOICE)
Provides the first comprehensive treatment of the most vexing problem of twentieth-century Israeli-Romanian realtions and its international ramifications. (Dov. B. Lungu International History Review)
A remarkable and engrossing read…[The Ransom of the Jews] will give readers an excellent perspective. (Norm Goldman Bookpleasures.com)
Fascinating reconstruction...sheds valuable light on this complicated and shameful chapter in the history of Communist Romania. (DRAGOS PETRESCU Journal of Cold War Studies)