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Truth About Israel: Vietnam

Truth About Israel

An AZM Educational Campaign

"TV didn't show you these pictures. Where I was born, entire families fled from the war in rickety boats. Hundreds were rescued by Israel." Lam, age 20, Vietnam

In April 1975, after decades of civil war in Vietnam, the forces of the totalitarian government of North Vietnam were victorious. The South Vietnamese regime fell, and their supporters – the United States army – withdrew in defeat. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese secretly fled in desperation to escape political persecution, torture and reprisals. Often, they escaped by sea in small, unseaworthy boats, risking starvation, dehydration, drowning and disease. Many had no experience on the rough seas and were blown off course. All too many suffered at the hands of pirates who robbed, raped and killed many passengers. All too often, as they approached bordering countries, they were turned away by the local authorities.

On June 10, 1977, an Israeli cargo ship on its way to Japan came across a boatful of 66 Vietnamese men, women and children. Denied entry by several other countries, they were out of food and dehydrated, but even as they saw approaching ships, they remained fearful of pirates. The Israeli captain and crew immediately offered food and water and decided to bring all the passengers on board. These were the first group of Vietnamese refugees to be rescued and resettled in Israel. From 1977-1979, Israel welcomed over three hundred Vietnamese refugees. Now there is a thriving Vietnamese community in Israel.

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