It’s not an exaggeration to say that Murray Greenfield played a significant role in the creation of modern Israel. From the moment he signed up to sail across the Atlantic in an unseaworthy rust-bucket to pick up the nearly dead survivors of the Holocaust in Europe, until the present day, he’s worked tirelessly to create a Jewish state.
Just last weekend the Jerusalem Post ran a large feature interview with him full of his amazing stories. But I know he has many, many more because he’s a good friend of a relative of mine. I count myself incredibly lucky to have shared quite a few shabbat meals and other occasions with him and so, last night, I joined him for a stroll . He was describing a talk about the foundation of Israel he gave the night before and I thought this would be good to film. I used Periscope and streamed it live and this is the saved version.
If there is interest here on the blog, I want to schedule a time to sit down with Murray and let anyone in the audience of Israellycool or live, as you watch, ask him questions. Leave a comment below or on Facebook if you’re keen on this and I’ll be in touch to set a time.
Here’s an extract from the full piece at the Jerusalem Post:
Greenfield was born and grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in New York City, speaking English and Yiddish. During World War II, he served in the Merchant Marines, and by late 1946, someone told him about “Aliyah Bet” – or “illegal immigration,” as the British termed the Jews who trying to enter Israel after surviving the Holocaust.
Greenfield became one of 250 American volunteers who sailed on so-called “rust buckets” – vessels that were not made for long journeys – between 1946 and 1948, rescuing more than a third of Holocaust survivors from ports in Europe to Cyprus, Tel Aviv and Haifa.
Greenfield recounted his role, together with Joseph M. Hochstein, in his 1987 book, The Jews’ Secret Fleet, the untold story of North American participation in smashing the British blockade which led to the founding of the Jewish state. It later inspired a 2008 documentary film titled Waves of Freedom.
Greenfield says he was motivated by Ben-Gurion to write the book. The prime minister confessed to him that he knew nothing about the Jewish Americans who had rescued European Jews on ships after the Holocaust, and it should be documented for posterity.
“We created the Jewish state, with the help of these ships,” Greenfield says. “Of the 70,000-odd Jews who were brought to Palestine after World War II and before the state, over 50 percent came on American ships sailed by some 250 young men who were volunteers like myself.”
Greenfield believes that without the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (which became UN General Assembly Resolution 181), the operation could never have been completed.