Zim Shipping Line

   Major international Israeli shipping company established in 1945 jointly by the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut, and the Israel Maritime League as a merchant marine, prompted mainly by the need for shipping in the repatriation of refugees and other Jews made homeless by World War II. Its activities began with one small steamship, the Kedmah, formerly a British naval ship that had participated in the evacuation of Singapore and the invasion of Malaya. During the War of Independence (1948—49), Zim ships brought vital arms and ammunition, as well as new immigrants (see ALIYA), to the nascent Jewish state. In 1949 alone, Zim's ships brought 100,000 immigrants to Israel. Zim was a major beneficiary of the German-Israel reparations agreements of the early 1950s; the agreements permitted the company to become a major element in cargo, bulk-carrier, and tanker ships, as well as (for a short time) passenger cruises.
   In the 1970s, Zim also became a world leader in pioneering a new technology in the loading of ships: container shipping. Over time, a series of crises and recovery programs have altered the shape of Zim's management structure, and in February 2004, the privatization of the company was completed with the purchase of the government shares by the Israel Corporation. Zim containers on railway trains and the Star of David flying on Zim cargo and tanker ships remain among the most easily identifiable international symbols of Israel.
   See also Foreign Trade.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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