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May 19, 1966 — U.S. Agrees to Sell Bombers to Israel

President Lyndon Johnson’s administration announces the first U.S. sale of warplanes to Israel. The A-4 Skyhawk light bomber enters service as the Ayit (Eagle) in Israel in 1968, too late for the Six-Day War in 1967 but in time for the War of Attrition and 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israel becomes the No. 1 export customer for the A-4, buying 217 of the bombers and receiving an additional 46 to make up for losses in the 1973 war.

photo of an A-4N jet
More than 50 years after Israel purchased its first A-4 Skyhawks, the upgraded A-4N remains in service with the Israeli Air Force. By Oren Rozen via Wikimedia Commons.

May 20, 2011 — B’nei Akiva Founder Arieh Handler Dies

Arieh Handler dies in Jerusalem a week shy of his 96th birthday. Born in Bohemia, Handler moved to Berlin to direct religious aliyah after attending the 1935 Zionist Congress. He settled in London in 1939 and helped found the B’nei Akiva youth movement before moving to Israel in 1948. He led a forerunner of the National Religious Party, returned to England to work for Jewish and Zionist causes, then returned to Israel for good in 2006.

youths visit Arieh Handler
B’nei Akiva youths from England visit Arieh Handler at his home in Jerusalem. Jewish Chronicle photo.

May 21, 1967 — Nasser Prepares for War

Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser mobilizes his military reserves and moves troops into the Sinai after booting out U.N. peacekeepers May 19 and closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. Those actions violate agreements under which Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1957. In an address, Nasser dares Israel to fight for freedom of the seas. On June 5, Israel launches a pre-emptive airstrike that begins the Six-Day War. 

Centurion tanks line up in the Negev
Centurion tanks line up in the Negev to prepare for a possible Egyptian attack in May 1967. By Fritz Cohen, Israeli Government Press Office.

May 22, 1970 — 12 Are Killed in School Bus Ambush

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorists attack an Israeli school bus with a bazooka and small arms about 500 yards from the Lebanese border, killing eight children and four adults, including the bus driver. More than 20 others are wounded, including a girl who dies 44 years later from an infection caused by shrapnel lodged in her brain. Israel shells four Lebanese villages in retaliation, killing 20 people.

searching the shattered school bus
The shattered school bus is searched after the ambush near the Lebanese border May 22, 1970.

May 23, 1420 — Viennese Decree Attacks Jews

Archduke Albert V issues the Wiener Gesera (Viennese Decree), ordering all Austrian Jews to be imprisoned and their possessions to be confiscated. Albert is inspired by religious fanaticism sweeping through Austria. Poor Jews are sent down the Danube on boats. Children are taken from their parents and forcibly converted. Many Jews commit suicide. On March 12, 1421, 200 to 300 Jews remaining in Austria are burned at the stake.

image of Albert V of Austria
Albert V of Austria, later king of Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia and Germany, was known as Albert the Magnanimous, but not for his treatment of Jews.

May 24, 1895 — Artist Marcel Janco Is Born

Marcel Janco, a founder of the Dada movement and a major influence on modern Israeli art, is born in Bucharest, Romania. A multimedia artist, Janco begins as an illustrator of an art magazine in Romania in 1912. He moves to Zurich during World War I and helps launch the Dada movement with his costumes, sets and masks for the Cabaret Voltaire. He works as an architect in Bucharest in the 1930s, then makes aliyah in early 1941.

photo of artist Marcel Janco
Artist Marcel Janco, pictured in the mid-1950s, is one of the founders of the Dada movement. National Photo Collection of Israel.

May 25, 1991 — Operation Solomon Rescues Ethiopian Jews

Using a brief window of permission from a new Ethiopian government, Operation Solomon flies more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 36 hours. The operation uses 34 airplanes, including a Boeing 747 that sets a record with 1,087 passengers, and carries almost twice as many members of the persecuted Beta Israel community as made aliyah during Operations Moses and Joshua in 1984 and 1985.

Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel
Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel during Operation Solomon. Courtesy of North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry.

Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.