Israel gave citizenship to 66 Vietnamese. In 1977, an Israeli cargo ship nearing Japan spotted a leaking boat crammed with 66 Vietnamese men, women and children. They were among hundreds of thousands of “boat people” fleeing their war-ravaged country following the end of the Vietnam War. Despite desperate SOS signals, the refugees, who were out of food and water, had been ignored by passing ships from East Germany, Norway, Japan and Panama.
The Israeli ship picked up the passengers and took them to Israel. There, Prime Minister Menachem Begin authorized their permanent admission to Israel, comparing their plight to that of European Jewish refugees seeking a haven in the 1930s. Subsequently, hundreds of additional Vietnamese refugees were taken in by Israel