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From davemull@alphalink.com.au Thu Mar 15 09:43:40 2001
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 22:33:17 -0600 (CST)
Organization: South Movement
From: Dave Muller <davemull@alphalink.com.au>
Subject: [southnews] Arabs and Jews unite to commemorate massacre
Article: 116823
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Arabs and Jews unite to commemorate massacre

By Robert Fisk, The Indpendent,
15 March 2001

As the Palestinian-Israeli war continues to grow ever bloodier, a group of British Jews and Arabs in London is to commemorate the Israeli massacre of Arab men, women and children at Deir Yassin in 1948, the slaughter that contributed more than any others to the mass depopulation of Palestinians from their land at the time of the founding of the Israeli state.

Two senior Progressive Rabbis—Rabbi John Rayner and Rabbi Jeffrey Newman—will join Palestinian and Arab diplomats on 1 April toremember Deir Yassin and the flight of the Palestinian people from their homes.

Already, Deir Yassin Remembered, the Jewish-Arab organisation behind the night of poetry and music at the Peacock Theatre in London, which includes the Palestinian scholar Edward Said among its board of advisers, is being condemned by supporters of Israel who claim it will give a propaganda coup to the Palestinian authorities.

But Rabbis Rayner and Jeffrey believe that acknowledgement of the cold-blooded killing of Arab men, women and children will contribute towards a future in which Jews and Palestinians live together. One supporter of the commemoration has compared a British-based Likud party official, Colin Leci, with deniers of the Jewish Holocaust for saying the Deir Yassin massacre never happened.

The facts of the slaughter were never denied at the time. The Arab village of Deir Yassin was attacked by Jewish commandos of the Stern Gang and Irgun, then led by Menachem Begin, on 9 April 1948; after its capture, they murdered more than 100—perhaps as many as 254—men, women and children. Some women were butchered with knives, others were shot with their children.

Official Zionist leaders of the Haganah denounced the killings. Several victims lived an hour longer than their families as they were taken by truck through the streets of Jeru-salem, then returned to the quarry outside Deir Yassin where they were killed and their bodies burnt by Jewish gang members.

Today, the few central buildings left in Deir Yassin are a mental hospital. A fuel storage depot has been built on the spot where the executions and body-burnings were committed. The name Deir Yassin appears on no Israeli map. It is now called Givat Shaul, and stands in sight of the Israeli memorial to the Jewish Holocaust at Yad Vashem. The organisers of the 1 April commemoration take the Holocaust museum's timeless message never to forget man's inhumanity to man as a slogan for their own act of remembrance, which will include dramatised readings of medieval Arab and Jewish philosophers, poems by Michael Rosen and a prayer for peace read by the two rabbis.

In Menachem Begin's mem-oirs, he wrote that Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of 'Irgun butchery' were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives... The political and economic significance of this development can hardly be overestimated.

Marc Ellis, a Jew who is an American-Jewish studies professor at Baylor University in Texas, says Jews and Arabs should celebrate Jewish survival from the Holocaust while mourning the Palestinian catastrophe. For Jews to remember Deir Yassin, he says, is a tribute to our martyrs and the martyrs of all peoples: that their lives will not be lost to history. For Rabbi Sidney Brichto, the remembrance will give a propaganda coup to the Palestinian authorities by diverting attention from the fact that they began an unprovoked intifada after rejecting peace proposals which had led Yasser Arafat to praise Ehud Barak as 'a courageous man'. The Palestinian leadership, Rabbi Brichto adds, still think they can obtain through violence and media coverage what they could not at the negotiating table.

The flight of at least 750,000 Arabs, partly induced by the Deir Yassin massacre, caused the Palestinians to lose most of what was then mandate Palestine. Mr Arafat has been negotiating for some of the remaining 22 per cent.