By Yoram Kaniuk, Seymour Simckes
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Additional info for Commander of the Exodus
Not far from them stood a young man alone, as though chained to the deck, wrapped in solitude, locked inside it. He too had come up for air. He too stared at the sea and did not see it. His stance by the many-headed, many-handed statue appeared forsaken and fixed. He trembled. His tears froze in his eyes. His loneliness seemed a kind of stubbornness and, at the same time, an attempt to catch the elusive waves he could not actually see because of the tears rolling down his face. For a moment, at the sound of Yossi’s footsteps, he turned his eyes, which looked empty.
His placement in Egypt caused him great pain. He was a gifted commander, devout in his faith and farsighted. Wingate expected to stand at the head of the Jewish army. Out of despair, he cut his throat with a razor after he arrived in Egypt and only by chance was saved. He was flown to England, recovered, was assigned to Ethiopia, and fought on the side of Emperor Haile Selassie with units modeled on those he had set up in Hanita. He reenacted the raids he had led in Galilee and Lebanon, this time against the Italian army, penetrating deep inside enemy lines.
At that time it was extremely perilous to cross the desert alone, on account of predatory beasts and Arab rioters. But a sense of “national mission,” as it was called in those days, presented itself before his eyes as he made the treacherous ascent to Masada. He stood on the mountain facing the Dead Sea and felt close to the rebels and proud of the spiritual strength he found in himself to make it here on his own, evading snakes, Bedouins, and the heat and knowing that despite the dangers he was unafraid.