Exodus 2010

It's probably not coincidence that the fate of the Gaza aid flotilla echos that of the Exodus 1947 - the ship trying to bring Jewish holocaust survivors to Palestine in 1947 - but it is ample evidence of historical ignorance and general stupidity of the Netanyahu government. Robert Mackey tells the story in The New York Times

To some Israeli observers, it was impossible to miss the parallels between Monday’s killing of pro-Palestinian activists by Israel’s military in international waters, as commandos intercepted a flotilla of ships trying to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza, and a seminal event in the Jewish struggle for an independent homeland.

Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli journalist who is rounding up reports and commentary on the attack on his blog, “Promised Land,” points to a post in Hebrew by Rafi Man of the Israel Democracy Institute which asks: “Will This Be the Palestinian Exodus?”

The British Navy tried to block the ship, the Exodus tried to break through, and violence ensued. The British then were trying to prevent illegal entry into territory that they legally controlled. After two would be immigrants and a crewman were killed, and the rest were forcibly returned to displaced person camps in Europe:

Large protests erupted on both sides of the Atlantic. The ensuing public embarrassment for Britain played a significant role in the diplomatic swing of sympathy toward the Jews and the eventual recognition of a Jewish state in 1948.

The unfolding of the violence had its parallels too.

Another parallel between the events of 1947 and those on Monday is a dispute over what might have justified the use of deadly force against civilians. Israeli officials insisted in initial statements that shooting activists in the flotilla was justified because commandos boarding one ship were met with “live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs.” That assertion was called “a lie,” by one of the flotilla’s organizers. In his live-blog post, Mr. Sheizaf wrote that Channel 10, an Israeli television station, reported that the Israeli military had completed a search of the ship and “no weapons discovered except for the two pistols that were taken from the soldiers.”

In August 1947, a New York Times article on the clash at sea the previous month was headlined: “Crew Man From the Exodus 1947 Denies the British Met Firearms; Grauel, on Arrival in New York, Says Naval Boarding Party Shot at Jews Whose Weapons Were Potatoes, Canned Goods.”

Up to that point, the Jews in Palestine had most notably made their case for statehood with various terrorist acts, infamously blowing up the King David hotel.


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