The Ship That Came After The Exodus

Between pages 142 and 143 of Ilan Pappe’s book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, there are nineteen photographs that depict the exodus of Palestinians in 1948, the remains of destroyed villages, the marching of troops, the arrested Palestinian men, and a refugee camp.
One of the photographs that spoke volumes to me was that of a ship with 1500 Jewish people boarding off at a port in Haifa on January 31st, 1949, ten months after Haifa’s original people had been expelled from it. As the new colonists boarded off the ship, a crowd of thousands awaited them, cheering their arrival to a broken, stolen land.
By this part of the book, I had learned that when Haifa was “de-Arabized”, the Palestinians that were able to run ran towards that same port. They were asked to wait in the old market nearby to make sure everyone boarded the boats orderly, only for that same old market to be bombarded by the occupier’s army. That is when people fled towards the boats, some meeting their fate at sea when boats sank due to an overload.
Over the past few months, I’ve been hearing about the “Block the Boat” movement where activists get together in various states where Israeli boats are unloading and try to block it from unloading, and I thought of the thousands of people that have been expelled from their homes and how they never got the chance to block the ship that was to bring people to the homes they built.
Looking at that photograph, I wondered if there were bodies deep down in the sea at that time. Were their homes already occupied, or were they to be occupied by the new comers leaving this ship? Were their homes destroyed entirely? What were those people’s names?


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