By: Steven Plaut
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, April 11, 2005
This week is the anniversary of the events that took place in the Arab village of Deir Yassin in 1948. In recent years, Deir Yassin has been converted into a bludgeon by the Far Left, the Neonazi Right, and Israel-bashers in general.
Deir Yassin is the ultimate "Man Bites Dog" news story supposedly based on the inversion of players. It is recited endlessly by the very same people who have nothing to say against a century of countless massacres of Jewish civilians by Arabs. The church in St. John's Wood in London is just one of many examples of outfits "commemorating" the "victims" of Deir Yassin this week.
Deir Yassin was a not-at-all innocent Arab village sitting near the only road into Jerusalem in 1948. In the previous December, the UN had voted to partition what was left of Madatory Palestine into two states, one a Jewish state and the other an Arab state to be named Palestine, of approximately equal sizes. The Jews of Israel accepted the plan, while the Arab states and the Palestinian Arab leadership rejected it. Had they accepted it, a Palestinian state would have arisen peacefully in 1948.
In response to the UN resolution, Arabs launched attacks against Jews everywhere in the country and in particular placed the city of Jerusalem under siege. The Jewish population of Jerusalem was quite literally starving. The only road into the city passed through the area of Deir Yassin, and the Arab militiamen in the town were stopping all convoys from passing through.
Since Israel had yet to be formally proclaimed, the only Jews doing the fighting were members of three poorly-armed militias. The main one was the Hagana, commanded by David Ben Gurion and the socialist Zionist party. There were two smaller ones operating independently under the command of the dissident "revisionist Zionist" movement, the Etsel and the Lehi.
Poorly-trained irregulars of the two latter militias were ordered to attack Deir Yassin to relieve the siege. They did so in ferocious hand-to-hand fighting, in which some Deir Yassin villagers were killed. The Bash-Israel lobby has always maintained that the villagers were "massacred" in cold blood, despite a distinct lack of evidence.
Those who participated in the battle claim the villagers were killed when the Jewish militiamen fired into homes from which fire was directed at them.
The village was successfully taken and the siege of Jerusalem was lifted. Large numbers of Jewish militiamen had been killed in the house-to-house battle for the village. Approximately 100 Arabs in the village died, a number that was later greatly inflated by anti-Jewish propagandists to 250.
Part of the problem was that the mainstream socialist Zionist parties themselves magnified the supposed misbehavior of the two opposition militias in order to discredit them in the coming political contest for control of the emerging Jewish state. This trend has been echoed in recent years, and Deir Yassin has become the "massacre of choice" for anti-Semites trying to prove the Jews are bloodthirsty barbarians. In part these have based their claims on a document by a Hagana officer, one Meir Peil, who was not actually present at the battle but surveyed the village AFTER the fighting was finished.
Peil claimed he thought there had been looting and intentional killing of some villagers. The problem is that Peil is also a leftwing radical and not exactly a neutral source. Other less politicized sources tell a different tale. Even some Arab sources confirm that no massacre took place in Deir Yassin.
Meanwhile, a few years back the ZOA issued a new study, Deir Yassin History of a Lie, a 32-page analysis (with 156 footnotes) by ZOA National President Morton A. Klein. (For a free copy, please call (21....)
Among other things, the ZOA study shows that the original claim of 254 dead was not based on any actual body count. The number was invented by Mordechai Ra'anan, leader of the Jewish soldiers who fought in Deir Yassin. He later admitted that the figure was a deliberate exaggeration in order to undermine the morale of the Arab forces, which had launched a war against the Jews in Mandatory Palestine to prevent the establishment of Israel. Other eyewitnesses to the battle estimated that about 100 Arabs had died.
Despite Ra'anan's admission, the figure 254 was circulated by Palestinian Arab leader Hussein Khalidi. His claims about Deir Yassin were the basis for an article in the New York Times claiming a massacre took place--an article that has been widely reprinted and cited as "proof" of the massacre throughout the past 57 years.
Meanwhile, there have been numerous exposes of the lies that have been invented surrounding the battle for Deir Yassin and these have largely discredited the Peil "eyewitness" report.
A massacre did take indeed take place, following the events in Deir Yassin, which had occurred on Friday morning April 9, 1948. On Monday morning, April 13, 1948, an Arab mob, chanting "Deir Yassin", massacred a bus convoy of Jewish doctors and nurses who were headed to Hadassah hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. Seventy-eight members of Hadassah's medical staff were murdered in cold blood. Only recently was it revealed that some of the Hadassah nurses had found refuge in the nearby compound of the British consul, only to be turned over to Arabs by the Brits, and the Arabs proceeded to slaughter them in "revenge" for what they thought had occurred at Deir Yassin.
Both sides used the symbol of "Remember Deir Yassin" in 1948 during the war.
There were Jews who intimidated Arabs with the slogan and there were Arab commanders who rallied their populace with the same adage. Meanwhile, what has fanned the flames of Deir Yassin has been the United Nations decision to confine more than three million Palestinian Arabs to refugee camps, promising them the "right of return" to Arab villages that no longer exist.
In recent years a group of pro-Arab propagandists in the US have stared holding annual "memorials" for the "victims" of the "massacre" in Deir Yassin. The late Edward Said had been a member and the group includes such people as anti-Semite Norman Finkelstein, Saudi-financed ex-congressman Paul Findlay, and PLO propagandist Hanan Ashwari.
These are people who have never denounced Arab massacres of Jewish children, which were committed not by poorly trained irregulars in the heat of a crucial battle, but by Islamofascist terrorists awash in money and under the direct personal command of the PLO.
Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of the Business Administration at the University of Haifa and is a columnist for the Jewish Press. A collection of his commentaries on the current events in Israel can be found on his "blog" at www.stevenplaut.blogspot.com.