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Commander of the Exodus
Cover of Commander of the Exodus
Commander of the Exodus
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"The first biography of Yossi Harel . . . offers valuable insights into the Jewish struggle to create a homeland" (Booklist).

Hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most inventive, brilliant novelists in the Western world," internationally renowned Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk turns his hand to nonfiction to bring us his most important work yet. Commander of the Exodus animates the story of Yossi Harel, a modern-day Moses who defied the blockade of the British Mandate to deliver more than twenty-four thousand displaced Holocaust survivors to Palestine while the rest of the world closed its doors. Of the four expeditions commanded by Harel between 1946 and 1948, the voyage of the Exodus left the deepest impression on public consciousness, quickly becoming a beacon for Zionism and a symbol to all that neither guns, cannons, nor warships could stand in the way of the human need for a home. With grace and sensitivity, Kaniuk shows the human face of history. He pays homage to the young Israeli who was motivated not by politics or personal glory, but by the pleading eyes of the orphaned children languishing on the shores of Europe. Commander of the Exodus is both an unforgettable tribute to the heroism of the dispossessed and a rich evocation of the vision and daring of a man who took it upon himself to reverse the course of history.

"[Yossi Harel's] remarkable achievements have been engraved in history by the talent of Yoram Kaniuk." —Ehud Barak, former prime minister of Israel

"The first biography of Yossi Harel . . . offers valuable insights into the Jewish struggle to create a homeland" (Booklist).

Hailed by the New York Times as "one of the most inventive, brilliant novelists in the Western world," internationally renowned Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk turns his hand to nonfiction to bring us his most important work yet. Commander of the Exodus animates the story of Yossi Harel, a modern-day Moses who defied the blockade of the British Mandate to deliver more than twenty-four thousand displaced Holocaust survivors to Palestine while the rest of the world closed its doors. Of the four expeditions commanded by Harel between 1946 and 1948, the voyage of the Exodus left the deepest impression on public consciousness, quickly becoming a beacon for Zionism and a symbol to all that neither guns, cannons, nor warships could stand in the way of the human need for a home. With grace and sensitivity, Kaniuk shows the human face of history. He pays homage to the young Israeli who was motivated not by politics or personal glory, but by the pleading eyes of the orphaned children languishing on the shores of Europe. Commander of the Exodus is both an unforgettable tribute to the heroism of the dispossessed and a rich evocation of the vision and daring of a man who took it upon himself to reverse the course of history.

"[Yossi Harel's] remarkable achievements have been engraved in history by the talent of Yoram Kaniuk." —Ehud Barak, former prime minister of Israel

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About the Author-
  • YORAM KANIUK was born in Tel Aviv in 1930 and took part in Israel's War of Independence in 1948. A painter, journalist, and theater critic, he is best known as a novelist. His books have been translated into twenty languages to great acclaim and have earned numerous international honors.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 1, 2000
    In this unusual foray into nonfiction, the well-respected Israeli novelist Kaniuk (Confessions of a Good Arab) depicts the life of Yossi Harel, a Palestine-born Jew who, in the 1940s, defied the British and brought four boatloads of Holocaust survivors to Palestine. Basing the narrative on his interviews with Harel (now in his 80s), Kaniuk tells how Harel left his troubled family to join the Haganah (the Jewish militia) at the age of 14. Inspired by the revolutionary leader Yitzhak Sadeh, he fought the Arabs during the anti-Jewish riots of the 1930s and the Germans during WWII; then, after the war ended, he fought the British. Harel's first expedition brought 3,000 Jewish refugees from Yugoslavia aboard the Knesset Israel, but the British forbade their entry, and they ended up in Cyprus. Then, in 1947, Harel commanded the famous ship Exodus (an expedition later depicted in the novel by Leon Uris and a film starring Paul Newman), which sailed from France with 4,515 refugees. When the Exodus arrived, British destroyers attacked it, and the refugees went back to detention camps in Germany. Finally, in 1948, Harel commanded two more ships carrying 15,236 Jews--all of whom, due to a brokered compromise, went back to Cyprus, where they secretly boarded British ships bound for Palestine. Masterfully describing both Harel's biography and the suffering and determination of the refugees, Kaniuk portrays an ugly episode in history and provides much-needed historical depth to contemporary political debates. (It was, he argues, the global condemnation that came in the aftermath of Britain's heartless refusals that led to the birth of Israel.)

  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2000
    A celebrated Israeli novelist re-creates the story of the Exodus, which ran the British blockade to deliver Holocaust survivors to Palestine.

    Copyright 2000 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Commander of the Exodus
Commander of the Exodus
Yoram Kaniuk
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