While Exodus by Leon Uris was an important book for many of us, the true story of the Exodus is less well known, but dramatic.
Last year saw the death of Yossi Harel, the mastermind of the operation to bring boatloads of refugees through the British blockade after WW2.
One first-hand account that sheds a fascinating insight into the Exodus was provided by an article from Jerry Klinger, entitled Reverend John Stanley Grauel, the man who helped make Israel possible.
The article traces the steps of Grauel, a Christian Minister who boarded the Exodus and played an important role in bringing the plight of the Jewish refugees to the attention of the UN representatives who were in Israel in 1947 deciding on recommendations. Most of the Exodus passengers were treated terribly by the British, being eventually forcibly sent from Haifa (first picture at the Haifa dock) back to Germany (second picture arriving back at the German displaced persons camp).
Just as the real Exodus played a significant role in shaping world opinion in 1947-8 in favour of partition and the establishment of Israel, Leon Uris’s book (the name Uris is derived from Yerushalayim) (pictured) played a major role in creating a positive image of Israel.
Here is one opinion piece. Rachel Weissbrod published a scholarly work about the literary aspects of the book – which she termed in the genre of “melodrama.”
The film Exodus, produced by Otto Preminger in 1960, and starring Paul Newman as Ari Ben Canaan, changed some aspects of Uris’s story to create more universal themes.
Referring to the length of the film, one critic noted that it reminded him of the expression – let my people go. But the film was indeed a blockbuster with memorable scenes, even if the characters were more richly developed in the book.
So sit back and enjoy the film
And if you wondered what happened to the actual boat, the Exodus, it was towed out of Haifa harbour and sunk in deeper water off the nearby Shemen beach. Several years later in 1964, there was an attempt to salvage the boat (see image), but the effort was unsuccessful.