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Exodus of Memory

Joe Holley

So here's what's a bit disconcerting for reporters of a certain age:

I'm writing an obituary this afternoon about a retired journalist named Boyd France, whose first big story was a 1947 interview with the captain of the Exodus, the famous ship crammed with 4,500 Jewish war refugees who had been denied entry into what was then British Palestine. France swam out to a small boat, which was able to manuever close enough to the ship for him to get the interview. Just to double-check how much background information I needed to include in the obit (which will be in The Post shortly), I asked a young reporter sitting nearby if she was aware of "the Exodus story."

"Like in the Bible?" she said.

"No, like in the late 1940s," I said. "Leon Uris's novel. The 1960 movie with Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint."

She didn't know, although she said it sounded interesting.

The generation gap reminded me of touring Prague with a group of American editorial writers in 1990, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. "And where were you during the Soviet invasion of '68?" one of our group asked our young guide.

She smiled politely. "I wasn't born," she said.

By Joe Holley  |  March 10, 2009; 5:41 PM ET
Categories:  Joe Holley  
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What was disappointing to me is that you did barely any research on the Exodus voyage and it's all there online.

You said that the refugees were "denied entry" by the British into Palestine. In fact, the British attacked the Exodus in international waters, killing 3 and wounding scores.

You also say that the British navy was escorting the ship (there were actually 3 British ships full of Exodus refugees in Port de Bouc) from Haifa, Israel. Israel was not voted into existence until 10 months later. The British had mandatory power over Palestine since 1917.

Lastly, and most importantly, you equate the voyage of the Exodus with the Leon Uris novel and Preminger film. In fact those stories are historical fiction and share very little with the actual voyage, other than the name of the ship and the time period.

You might think I'm nitpicking, but since I know a lot about the event, it makes me think that you can't spend 10 minutes researching this. So why should I trust some of the other things that you report?

I've made a documentary on the secret American involvement with the Exodus affair. For more info:

Thanks for your time,
Elizabeth Rodgers

Posted by: erodg | March 12, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

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