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The state of Israel is created in 1948, resulting in war with its Arab neighbors.
- Otto Preminger
Following World War II, the life of the Jewish nation is uncertain. The United Nations is contemplating taking a vote on creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Until then, many Jews are exiled from much of Europe - especially Germany - and as they have no where to go, they are sent to detention camps among other places Cypress. Ari Ben Canaan, a Palestinian Jew, wants to smuggle as many Jews as possible into Palestine. In his mind, the easiest way to influence the United Nations vote is by sheer numbers residing in Palestine. Ari commandeers a ship with 600 Jews, and after some obstacles, manages to make it to Palestine. Ari grew up in a mixed Arab/Jewish community in Palestine. His best childhood friend, Taha, is Arab and is now leader of the Arab section of the community. Regardless of the United Nations vote, the road to Ari's dream of a peaceful Jewish homeland in Palestine will be a difficult one because despite his own model community, extremist factions, both on the Jewish side and the anti-Zionist side, will never see living together in peace and advocate violence to achieve their own ends. Within this fray is widowed American nurse, Kitty Fremont. Kitty is initially naive about the conflict and hostile toward Ari's means of achieving his goals. However, she ultimately falls in love with him and with his dream despite their religious and cultural differences.