EXPIRED: 12/23/09 – Yitzhak Aharonovitch, 86, who was captain of the ship, the Exodus, which left France for Palestine with 4,515 passengers, mostly Jewish Holocaust survivors, on board. The year was 1947 and this was ‘no cruise to nowhere’.
As the Exodus neared the port of Haifa, British naval forces surrounded it and opened fire, killing three people. Despite Aharonvitch’s opposition, the ship surrendered and the passengers were relocated to displaced persons camps (read: former Nazi camps) in Germany. They were later transferred to camps in Cyprus until the state of Israel was established a year later.
Aharonovitch — also known as Ike Aranne — was born in Poland and moved to pre-state Israel in 1932. He died in northern Israel after a long illness.
The story of the Exodus became iconic after the publication of Leon Uris’ book and the 1960 Otto Preminger film starring Paul Newman.