In Their Own Words

MONROE FEIN (The Altalena)


(from Shmuel Katz’s memoirs)


*With the declaration of a truce, however, the danger was that our ship might be attacked in the open sea by the Egyptians or, what was more in an onrush of loyalty to U.N. decisions, plead justification.


How great was this risk, and how good were the ship’s chances of breaking through if attacked?


These questions we discussed long and earnestly with Monroe Fein.


Fein had handled precisely the same type of vessel against the Japanese.


He was confident of his ability to evade attack: and in the repelling attacks he would be well-equipped on board with weapons that could be used against aircraft.


We paced the deck that moonless Tuesday night for an hour or more turning over the whole project.


Hanging over the rail when Fein had left me to attend to some chores, I pondered over this young American and Americanized Jew, quiet-spoken and clear-headed, responding to a call he had only just begun to recognize.


Now, coolly and pragmatically, without heroics or sentimentality, he was about to drive into whatever danger offered or threatened.


In those spring days of1948 there were many of his kind who came from the counties of rooted comfort to give expression to the sudden sense of solidarity with their ancient people.


There were many; yet they were few.


Too many more, albeit moved by the spectacle of their embattled brothers and cheering them on, yet remained at a distance in New York and Los Angeles, and London and Buenos Aires and Johannesburg.

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