Clandestine Immigration & Naval Museum

Top choice in Haifa

HAIFA, ISRAEL - DECEMBER 4,2013: INS Mivtach, retired ship on permanent display at Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum at the bottom of Mount Carmel.; Shutterstock ID 612169475

Shutterstock / Andrii Zhezhera

Using a series of powerful video testimonials, this fascinating museum showcases the Zionist Movement’s determined efforts to infiltrate Jewish refugees from Europe into British-blockaded Palestine from 1934 to 1948. The centrepiece is a WWII landing craft rechristened the Af-Al-Pi-Chen (‘nevertheless’ in Hebrew) that carried 434 refugees to Palestine in 1947; intercepted by the British, they were sent to internment camps on Cyprus. The museum is run by the Ministry of Defense, so you'll need your passport to get in.

Most compelling are the testimonials about life on board these surplus war ships; survivors describe gruelling conditions and overcrowding, but also an irrepressible optimism about their hopes of entering the Holy Land. Many never reached it, including the passengers on board the Exodus: this vastly overloaded steamer ship carried more than 4500 Holocaust survivors to Palestine in 1947 but was forced by the British to return to Europe.