The clandestine immigration movement of Jews into Palestine during and after World War II -- called "Aliya Bet" -- is one of the most harrowing phases of Israeli history. Throughout the time of the Holocaust, when Jews so desperately needed a haven, admission to British Mandate Palestine was largely denied to them by the British government. Nevertheless, Jews fleeing from the Nazis during World War II and, after the war, Jewish escapees from displaced persons camps constantly attempted to enter Palestine on rusty, unsafe illegal vessels. Some succeeded in making it undetected past British ships guarding Palestine's Mediterranean coastline; others were not so fortunate. The Struma, from 1941 to 1942, waited for months at sea for some country to accept the 765 refugees aboard until it was torpedoed by the Russian navy and sank off Turkey. All but one on board perished. Others, like the Patria, went down in Haifa harbor, with hundreds killed in sight of safety; still others, like the Exodus 1947 (made famous by the Leon Uris book Exodus and the 1960 film of the same name), ran the British blockade only to have its passengers shipped to a Cyprus detention camp, or, pathetically enough, returned to a detention camp in Germany. The blockade-running vessel Af-Al-Pi Chen (Nevertheless) is now a part of the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum, a memorial commemorating all the ships that defied the British blockade to smuggle immigrants into Palestine.
- © Frommer's 2013
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