Commander of the Exodus

Even in translation, the poetry of Yoram Kaniuk’s prose comes through, in an old tale that bears repeating, especially at a time when the anti-Semitism that is never far below the West’s benign surface is adding old darkness to modern light.

It’s instructive to be reminded that the Arab-Israeli conflict didn’t begin with contemporary Palestinian grievances and terrorism, but is at least as old as the 1920s, when a tiny minority of Jewish settlers were almost powerless to stop the periodic assaults of their majority Arab neighbors.

Or that American and British resentment of (and opposition to) European Jewish aspirations began long before there was an Israel, even, as hard as it may to accept, before, during and immediately after the Holocaust.

Kaniuk’s perspective is that of a patriotic Israeli providing the background to the state’s creation story, but he leavens his judgments through the worldly understanding of his main character, the sabra revolutionary Yossi Harel, the commander of the SS Exodus 1947.

0 responses to “Commander of the Exodus

    • A real reporter? At the lefty Guardian? Is such a thing possible?

      As a recovering journalist I have to say the form is always suspect, whoever tells the tale. But having now read both the book and the article, I would say the article is lighter on the facts.

      The article dismisses Harel as a “political commissar.” The book tells how Harel had commanded several other such blockade runners before the Exodus and shows how the British were not playing games, but had rammed and almost sunk a previous one. Therefore there was real fear they would do the same to the decrepit Exodus unless it surrendered.

  1. I would answer yes to the first question, with clarifications at a later opportunity.

    As for Kaniuk – hard to find someone more to the left, even in The Guardian.