Waves immigration Sharon

  • Issue: April 1997
  • Designer: D. Ben-Hador
  • Stamp size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 315
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

Organized clandestine immigration operations carried out between 1934 and 1948, were an integral part of the struggle both to establish a Jewish majority in the Land of Israel and to attain recognition of the political right of Jews to settle in the Land of Israel. The immigration operations strove to open the country's gates in preparation for the establishment of a Jewish state. During 14 years of activity, the Organized Clandestine Immigration Operations (Ha'apala) brought over 122,000 people to the Land of Israel, most by way of sea, and a few by land and air.

Members of the Hagana, the Institution for Clandestine Immigration (Hamossad Le'Aliya Bet), the Revisionist Movement and private individuals all took part in bringing Jews to Israel.

From 1934- 1939, i.e., until World War II, 22,000 clandestine immigrants arrived in Israel.

During World War 11(1940 - 19441, about 16,000 immigrants arrived. Seven clandestine immigration ships sank on the way to their destination, with a total of 2,300 immigrants on board. A particularly horrifying episode was the sinking of the Struma by a Soviet submarine in the Black Sea in February, 1942.

Following World War II and up to 1948, clandestine immigration increased, in an effort to open up the Land of Israel to Holocaust survivors. Clandestine immigration efforts were supported by the Jews living in Israel and by Zionists around the world. Financial support came mostly from American Jewry. 85,000 immigrants entered the country during the post war period.

About 5,500 clandestine immigrants entered Israel by way of land, by stealing over the Northern Israeli border. This operation was supported by Jewish and Yishuv volunteers serving in the British army.

In 1947, about 150 individuals reached Israel on flights from Iraq and Italy.

The British deportation policy was an effort to deter both the clandestine immigrants and the organizers of the operations. In November 1940, while still in the Haifa port, the Hagana sabotaged the "Patria", a ship scheduled to deport about 5,000 immigrants to the island of Mauritius, immigrants who had arrived in three smaller ships. Despite the incident, 1,600 clandestine immigrants were deported to Mauritius on December 8, 1940.

From August, 1946 until the establishment of the State of Israel, 52,000 clandestine immigrants were deported to detention camps in Cyprus. The last of the deportees in these camps were released only in February of 1949. Undoubtedly, the most famous of the clandestine immigrant ships was the 'Exodus 1947", or as it is called in Hebrew, Yetsiat Europa Tashaz". The ship was originally a passenger ship, known as the "President Warfield". After transporting soldiers to and from England and France from 1942 to 1945, the ship was returned to the United States in very poor condition. With aid from the Baltimore Jewish community, she was repaired and readied to serve in the clandestine immigration operations. The Hagana ship "Exodus 1947 was one often ships purchased by the North American Jewish community, all of which carried North American volunteer crews.

After the ship was made seaworthy, she was transferred to Europe, to the French port of Sete. In an extremely orderly fashion, 4,530 Holocaust survivors boarded the 'Exodus" as clandestine immigrants. On July 11, 1947, the ship sailed.

The ship and its passengers overcame endless obstacles during what was to be a most trying journey.

Two British destroyers tailed the 'Exodus' to the shores of Israel, and together with four other destroyers, attacked the "Exodus" and her passengers. A difficult battle ensued, with the attackers using tear gas and firearms, while "Exodus" passengers used tin cans, potatoes, bottles, etc. The battle ended with three fatalities (two immigrants and one American volunteer) and two hundred wounded.

On July 18, 1947, British forces dragged the ship into the Haifa Port, and people were forcefully transported over the "Dock of Tears" to three deportation ships which made their way to France. After spending 24 days in inhuman conditions at Port De Buc, the immigrants were deported to Hamburg, Germany. The "Exodus's" clandestine immigrant passengers then sailed again for Israel. Some of these ships were captured, and the passengers were deported to Cyprus.

The painful deportation to Germany so soon after the Holocaust raised the issue of the Jewish question on the international arena, and it was clear to all that the problem required an immediate solution. This solution was found when, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations resolved to create an independent state for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

The stamp shows the Exodus at the Haifa port in July, 1947.

On the left side is a photograph of the "Shadow Fleet" at the Haifa Port - clandestine immigration ships that were captured by the British fleet and whose passengers were detained in camps in Palestine and Cyprus. The stamp tab bears a quotation from the last lines of the Natan Alterman poem "We Were As Dreamers" ,first published in the Davar newspaper on September 1, 1934. The poem discusses the first clandestine immigration ship which landed on the shores of Palestine in the summer of that same year. Alterman finishes his poem with the message that the Return to Zion - immigration to Eretz Israel - will be realized as in the spirit of the prophecy in Psalms, chapter 126.

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Clandestine immigration 1934 - 1948