MembersExodus: A Ship That Launched a Nation

The story of how an overcrowded passenger ship harassed by the British Navy became a beacon of Israel’s restoration

By David Lazarus |
Photo: Public Domain

It was 72 years ago that the illegal immigrant ship “Exodus” was apprehended by a British destroyer along the coast of Israel. This is the story of how a group of American Jews save a ship that helped birth a nation.

After World War II, 250,000 Jews remained in Europe, housed in Displaced Persons camps in Germany and Austria, mostly under strict containment. As a result, Jewish organizations in Europe and the United States decided to establish an underground movement called “Escape” by which thousands of Jews were transferred from refugee camps to Mediterranean ports where they were boarded onto ships sailing towards the coast of Israel. 

The Zionist leaders at the end of 1945 saw these Jewish refugees and displaced persons in Europe who needed a homeland as leverage in their political struggle to establish a Jewish state. British authorities who were the mandated government over the land of Israel and the Palestinians tried to stop the influx of Jewish refugees into Israel anyway they could out of fear at the growing tensions with the Palestinians and...

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