Jerusalem (Jul. 2)
On the eve of the 11th Maccabiad, the Jewish Olympic games, which open July 6, a scholar delving into the Central Zionist Archives here unearthed information linking the first Maccabiad almost a half century ago with early “illegal” Jewish immigration into Palestine.
According to Dr. Yitzhak Avnery, author of a dissertation on illegal immigration from the beginning of the British Mandate until World War II, the Maccabiad held March 29-31, 1932, drew some 25,000 Jewish tourists to the country. During the months of April and May, over 5000 of them faded into the cities, villages and kibbutzim. “This was one of the largest single illegal immigrations of the Mandate period and was a significant addition to the Jewish settlement in Palestine,” Avnery said. He recalled that in the early 1930s, the quota on Jews admitted for settlement in Palestine was low. Only 600 were allowed to enter in February and March, 1932. Moreover, potential immigrants had to prove they possessed at least $5000 in cash or liquid assets to obtain a one-year visa.