Sixty-five years ago (April 9, 1948) Jewish forces occupied the village of Deir Yassin on the hill west of Jerusalem. “They burst into the village and sprayed the houses with machine-gun fire, killing many of the inhabitants. The remaining villagers were then gathered in one place and murdered in cold blood, their bodies abused while a number of women were raped and then killed.” [The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by historian Ilan Pappe.]
Ilan Pappe continues: “Fahim Zaydan, who was twelve years old at the time, recalled how he saw his family murdered in front of his eyes:
They took us out one after the other; shot an old man and when one of his daughters cried, she was shot too. Then they called my brother Muhammad, and shot him in front of us, and when my mother yelled, bending over him — carrying my little sister Hudra in her hands, still breastfeeding her — they shot her too.
Zaydan himself was shot, too, while standing in a row of children the Jewish soldiers had lined up against a wall, which they had then sprayed with bullets, ‘just for the fun of it’, before they left. He was lucky to survive his wounds.” [The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by historian Ilan Pappe.]
Deniers claim that the atrocities at Deir Yassin were fabricated to lure the Arab neighbors into a battle with Israel. Just like Holocaust deniers, there are nuts in every part of the world with perverse agendas.
But Deir Yassin is remembered by many Palestinians on April 9, and there will be no peace in this region until Israel acknowledges the horrific trauma it caused in 1948 to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians by their deliberate expulsion, murder and dispossession of their homes and land.
One suggestion, an easy step, would be for Israel to place a plaque near the entrance to the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem remembering the Deir Yassin massacre.
The Holocaust museum [in Jerusalem] is beautiful and the message “never to forget man’s inhumanity to man” is timeless. The children’s museum is particularly heart wrenching; in a dark room filled with candles and mirrors the names of Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust are read along with their places of birth. Even the most callous person is brought to tears. Upon exiting this portion of the museum a visitor is facing north and looking directly at Deir Yassin. There are no markers, no plaques, no memorials, and no mention from any tour guide. But for those who know what they are looking at, the irony is breathtaking.
Their wounds are fresh, and their memories are clear. Time will not erase the massacre at Deir Yassin.