April 9 marked the 57th anniversary of 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 far leftists, neo-Nazis, and Israel-bashers in general. 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.
Deir Yassin was a not-at-all innocent Arab village sitting on the only road into Jerusalem in 1948. The previous December, the UN had voted to partition what was left of Mandatory Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab, 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 Deir Yassin, and the Arab militiamen in the town were stopping all convoys from passing through.
Since Israel had yet to be formally proclaimed as an independent state, the only Jews doing the fighting were members of three sparsely armed militias. The main one was the Haganah, commanded by David Ben Gurion and his socialist Zionists. There were two smaller ones operating independently under the command of the dissident “revisionist Zionist” movement, Etsel and 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. Their evidence is that they do not like Jews.
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. Approximately 100 Arabs in the village died, though the number was later greatly inflated by anti-Jewish propagandists to 250.
Part of the problem was that the mainstream socialist Zionist parties themselves magnified the alleged 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 portray the Jews as bloodthirsty barbarians. In part they have based their claims on a document by a Haganah officer, one Meir Peil, who was not present at the battle but surveyed the village after the fighting was finished. Peil said he thought there had been looting and intentional killing of some villagers – but he was an eyewitness of nothing.
Peil is a radical leftist. That’s his prerogative, of course, but he’s 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.
A few years back the Zionist Organization of America issued a study titled “Deir Yassin: History of a Lie,” a 32-page analysis (with 156 footnotes) by ZOA National President Morton A. Klein. (For a free copy, call (212) 481-1500.)
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 that 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 had taken place – an article that has since been widely reprinted and cited as “proof” of the massacre.
Meanwhile, there have been numerous exposes of the lies that have been invented surrounding the battle for Deir Yassin, and these have largely discredited Peil’s report.
It so happens that a massacre did take place – but it followed the events in Deir Yassin, which occurred on Friday morning April 9, 1948. On the following Monday morning, an Arab mob, chanting “Deir Yassin,” massacred a bus convoy of Jewish doctors and nurses headed to Hadassah hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. Seventy-eight of Hadassah’s medical personnel were killed 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. The Arabs proceeded to slaughter them in revenge for what they thought had occurred at Deir Yassin.
Both sides used the cry of “Remember Deir Yassin” during the 1948 war. There were Jews who intimidated Arabs with the slogan and there were Arab commanders who rallied their populace with the same adage. But the symbolism of Deir Yassin as myth and legacy has been actively nurtured these past 57 years by the UN’s decision to confine more than three million Palestinian Arabs to refugee camps, under the premise and promise of a “right of return” to Arab villages that no longer exist.
In recent years pro-Arab propagandists in the U.S. have stared holding annual memorials for the “victims” of the alleged Deir Yassin massacre. The group is comprised of people who have never denounced Arab mass massacres of Jewish children – massacres 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 and control of the heads of the PLO.
Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Yahoo.com He can be contacted at email@example.com.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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