The Mavi Marmara and the Exodus — May 31, 2010 and July 18, 1947

The defense of the Mavi Marmara, which Israeli officials have shamelessly been describing as an “ambush” on its elite commandos, is not without historical precedent. Indeed, as Robert Mackey points out at the New York Times, there is a parallel that some Israelis now find impossible to ignore: the resistance to the British naval assault on the SS Exodus in July 1947, as Jewish refugees used every makeshift weapon they could lay their hands on in their effort to repel British soldiers.

The overcrowded passenger ship carried Jewish refugees fleeing from war-decimated Europe who hoped to become settlers in Palestine — then under British control — but the British were intent on blocking their entry.

In international waters off Palestine the British Royal Navy intercepted the Exodus and British troops attempted to board.

Several hours of fighting followed, with the ship’s passengers spraying fuel oil and throwing smoke bombs, life rafts and whatever else came to hand, down on the British sailors trying to board, The Times reported at the time. Soon the British opened fire. Two immigrants and a crewman on the Exodus were killed; scores more were wounded, many seriously. The ship was towed to Haifa, and from there its passengers were deported, first to France and eventually to Germany, where they were placed in camps near Lübeck.

International outrage at the treatment of the passengers of the Exodus was instrumental in turning the tide of opinion in favor of the creation of a Jewish state. Who on board that ship would have anticipated that decades later it would be Jews themselves who became as callous as the British in their rejection of a humanitarian cause?

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  1. delia ruhe says:

    “International outrage at the treatment of the passengers of the Exodus was instrumental in turning the tide of opinion in favor of the creation of a Jewish state.”

    I think this is a good analogy, since Zionists never tire of reminding current Western governments of their wartime predecessors’ complicity in the Holocaust. But the complicity of today’s governments in the dispossession and persecution of Palestinians is a whole lot easier to substantiate. Nevertheless, I doubt that Palestinians will be as lucky as the Zionists of the 1940s–at least, when it comes to getting a state of their own.

  2. History comes to the rescue again. What was that bit about “whoever is without sin may throw the first stone”?

    There is also an extensive record of Jewish terrorism against the British in mandated Palestine — including the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem — that shows how very selective the Israeli propaganda machine is.

  3. Twisted_Colour says:

    “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone”

    Is a something that (the non-existant) Jesus said. It’s not something that Jews are going to pay attention to. Or Christian fundamentalists for that matter, they routinely ignore the teachings of their beloved Christ.

  4. Wesley Parish says:

    He who forgets history is doomed to repeat it. The Exodus was the first thing that came to mind.

    I really should write and ask the new Israeli embassy in New Zealand if they could comment on the historical parallels, for the enlightenment and benefit of their hosts.

  5. Dieter Heymann, Houston, USA says:

    Long before the bombing of the King David Hotel, on June 30, 1924, the Haganah had the Dutch poet Jacob Israel de Haan murdered because he had supported complaints lodged by Palestinian Arabs with the British Rulers of the Mandate. They murdered him as a terrorist warning to others who might be inclined to help Palestinian Arabs.
    The assassin, Avraham Tehomi stated in an interview “I have no regrets because he wanted to destroy our whole idea of Zionism”.