Remembering What NOT Many
of We the People Ever Knew
about "Never Forget," Deir Yassin,
9/11 and Israel Too
Arabisto.com April 08, 2008 11:25 AM
by Eileen Fleming
Deir Yassin was once a peaceful Palestinian village on the west side of Jerusalem. On April 9, 1948 the lives of over 100 innocent men, women, and children ended by the hand of Jewish terrorists from the Irgun and the Stern Gang.
Deir Yassin is 1,400 meters to the north of Yad Vashem, the most famous Holocaust memorial, where the world is taught to “Never Forget.”
Might the world also remember that on May 15, 1948, the British left Palestine and the Israeli military force consisted of three independent groups: "The larger one was the Hagana. Within the Hagana there was a strike force known as the Palmah. Outside Hagana there were two more independent smaller forces. The bigger of the two was Etzel, which was the underground terrorist organization of the opposition party led by Menahem Begin, and the smaller one was Lehi, known also as the Stern Gang, a splinter group which separated from the Etzel a few years previously." 
"The Deir Yassin incident was part of the Middle East war of 1948, variously referred to as the Israeli War of Independence, the First Arab-Israeli War, or the First Palestine War. The conflict arose out of decades-old competing claims of nationalist Jews and Arabs for sovereignty over Palestine (today Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip). European Jewish nationalists, organized as Zionists in 1897, sought to establish a Jewish state through colonization of Palestine, while Arab nationalists sought an Arab state for Palestine's Arab majority. 
There are many versions of what happened in Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948. One report by then Colonel Dr. Me'ir Pa'ill, [who later represented the Meretz Party in the Knesset] a liaison officer representing the Palmah in the headquarters of the Hagana in Jerusalem gave an interview in the magazine Monitin, April 1981, Edition 32, page 36:
"Etzel and Lehi had decided to carry out one operation together. They counted their men and discovered that together they could supply 130 fighters. Among the Etzel members there was one, Joshua Goldshmid, who lived in Giv'at Shaul, a western suburb of Jerusalem close to Deir Yassin and he was the one that pushed for Deir Yassin. The place itself was a small village of 750 inhabitants. It did not have a strategic location and wasn't situated on any important road....Since the Hagana was holding the lines of communications, Etzel and Lehi asked David Sha'altiel, the commander of the Hagana's Jerusalem district for a meeting. I'm telling you this to show that I knew what was going on, because I was in the picture from the beginning. Sha'altiel told them that the plan of the Hagana was, that when the British army leave (shortly), they would take over Deir Yassin and level it to build an airport . . . 
"It was Friday, the 9th of April 1948 and I went in together with them. I had a tommy-gun with a disc magazine, 50 bullets and proper boots. On that day I did not fire even one bullet. With me was a guy with a good Leica camera capable of taking 36 still, black and white pictures. Half of them were shot during the battle and half afterwards...The raid was supposed to start two hours before dawn. The road to Deir Yassin was open. It was not mined or obstructed because it was constantly in use. The plan was that the van carrying the Etzel/Lehi members would drive on this dusty road and a loudspeaker would call to the inhabitants to flee from the village. I was walking on this very road. They (Lehi) didn't know who I was. They were late and reached the village when it was already daylight . . . I thought that now a small skirmish would develop, but there was actually a battle. From my battleground experience I noticed that the Arabs had only rifles. All their shots were single shots. Only the attackers had automatic weapons . . . Suddenly, at about 11 o'clock in the morning, I heard the explosions of 2 inch mortar shells. I looked out of the window and I saw ten Palmah fighters under the command of the late Jacob Wog, descending and taking over the rest of the village . . . They (Etzel & Lehi), were not able to carry out even their own task. We had to send in a tired platoon to finish the job for them. Suddenly I started to hear shooting from all directions in the village. I ran there with my photographer and I saw gangs of Etzel and Lehi running through the alleys. In my report I added: 'with bulging eyes' as if they were 'running amok'. They were running from house to house. They got inside, and butchered whoever was there by shooting, not by hand grenades! By shooting! I called it hot blooded murder. It was spontaneous, not planned. I ran after them shouting:' what are you doing?' They looked at me as if I was crazy, also with those bulging eyes. The photographer was taking pictures of scenes that I can still see, even now, with my own eyes: A corner in a room. A woman, children and an old man, butchered. 
" . . . On the Saturday, Etzel and Lehi notified David Sha'altiel: 'Tomorrow we leave the place. We are a crash unit. We don't hold to command posts. They were asked to at least bury the corpses. 'We don't care' was their answer. Two platoons of Gadna, seven and eighth grade students (a pre-military unit of the Hagana), were brought to Deir Yassin on the Sunday and they did most of the burying. They counted the corpses. The Red Cross arrived later on. There were 254 dead out of 750 people who had lived in this village. A third was killed, a third was evacuated and a third escaped." 
The massacre in Deir Yassin was neither the first of its kind nor the most horrific, but "its timing, scope, and historic long-term consequences have made Deir Yassin, in the words of philosopher Martin Buber, "infamous throughout the Jewish world, the Arab world, and the whole world." 
Also infamous is the 1954 incident when Israel attempted to bomb US government offices in Egypt and Israel's 1967 two hour attack upon the lightly armed spy ship the USS LIBERTY, which resulted in 34 dead sailors and a still traumatized crew who were commanded to keep silent by the LBJ Administration, who sacrificed the troops rather than embarrass an ally. 
Another infamous fact is that," through the years, Israel has regularly spied on the US. According to the Government Accounting Office, Israel 'conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the United States of any ally.' Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard: 'It is difficult for me to conceive of greater harm done to national security.' And the Pollard case was just the tip of a very large iceberg; the most recent operation coming to light involves two senior officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel's powerful American lobbying organization." 
In December 2001, FOX News began a four part series [that has since been removed from their website] regarding Israel's spying on America. However, Information Clearing House has preserved those insights. In Part One, Part I, host Brit Hume stated, "It has been more than 16 years since a civilian working for the Navy was charged with passing secrets to Israel. Jonathan Pollard pled guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and is serving a life sentence. At first, Israeli leaders claimed Pollard was part of a rogue operation, but later took responsibility for his work. Now Fox News has learned some U.S. investigators believe that there are Israelis again very much engaged in spying in and on the U.S., who may have known things they didn't tell us before September 11. Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron has details in the first of a four-part series." 
Carl Cameron reported, "Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States. There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are "tie-ins." But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, "evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information." 
Numerous classified documents obtained by Fox News indicated that even prior to September 11; as many as 140 other Israelis had been detained or arrested in a secretive and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage by Israelis in the United States. Investigators from numerous government agencies are part of a working group that's been compiling evidence since the mid '90s. These documents detail hundreds of incidents in cities and towns across the country that investigators say, "may well be an organized intelligence gathering activity." 
"Why would Israelis spy in and on the U.S.? A general accounting office investigation referred to Israel as country A and said, 'According to a U.S. intelligence agency, the government of country A conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the U.S. of any U.S. ally.' 
"A defense intelligence report said Israel has a voracious appetite for information and said, 'the Israelis are motivated by strong survival instincts which dictate every possible facet of their political and economical policies. It aggressively collects military and industrial technology and the U.S. is a high priority target . . . Israel possesses the resources and technical capability to achieve its collection objectives.' "
After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Israel's economy was devastated, but then came 9/11, and "suddenly new profit vistas opened up for any company that claimed it could spot terrorists in crowds, seal borders from attack and extract confessions from closed-mouthed prisoners . . . Many of the country's most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel's status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of twenty-four-hour-a-day showroom--a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war . . . Israel now sends $1.2 billion in "defense" products to the United States—up dramatically from $270 million in 1999 . . . That makes Israel the fourth-largest arms dealer in the world . . . Much of this growth has been in the so-called "homeland security" sector. Before 9/11 homeland security barely existed as an industry. By the end of this year, Israeli exports in the sector will reach $1.2 billion--an increase of 20 percent. The key products and services are . . . precisely the tools and technologies Israel has used to lock in the occupied territories. Israel has learned to turn endless war into a brand asset, pitching its uprooting, occupation and containment of the Palestinian people as a half-century head start in the "global war on terror." 
Thinking people comprehend that all governments lie, that politicians get addicted to gaining and keeping power and that religion has been misused for eons.
Shortly after my first of five trips to occupied Palestine, in 2005, a USA Episcopal priest and I exchanged a few emails before he left America to work with Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust memorial, where the world is taught to “Never Forget.”
I wrote to the priest about my concern that the fastest growing cult in the U.S.A. is the cult of Christian Zionism and that approximately 25 million U.S. Christians choose the simple answers of fundamentalism rather than struggle with a God of justice, mercy and compassion.
Christian Zionists, such as John Hagee cling to Genesis 12:3: "I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse: and in you all the families of the world are blessed" as if God meant blessings to be political power and military might.
The ancient Israelites and today's religious fundamentalist nationalist Zionists hold to the belief that a particular religion and race are more chosen, worthy, special and esteemed by God over and above any other. Looking down on one’s enemies to foster one’s own tribal interest and praying to God to smite one’s enemies is what the ancients did.
The fact that Genesis 12:3 was promised even before Ishmael, the father of the Arab nation, and Isaac, the Jew, were born is overlooked and ignored by Christian Zionists, who also fail to comprehend that the very first mention of Israel is when Jacob was renamed Israel for having wrestled and struggled with God. Thus, in the Biblical sense, anyone and everyone who struggles and wrestles with God is Israel, too, for Israel means more than a geographical location.
The Episcopal priest insisted that the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures, and God’s covenant with Israel is eternal, exclusive, and will not be abrogated. He referred me to Genesis 12:1-7, 15:4-7, 17:1-8; Leviticus 26:44-45; and Deuteronomy 7:7:8.
I wrote back that for Christians, the New Testament holds greater weight than the Hebrew Scriptures and I referred him to Matthew 5:43-45, which not only critiques Genesis 12:3; it blows it apart, for Jesus commanded his followers to, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, that you maybe children of your Father."
I asked that priest to consider the fact that blind allegiance to the Israeli government has allowed our 'best friend' in the world to become a very big bully. I questioned that priest regarding how God is always on the side of the oppressed and if we truly love our friend, wouldn't we hold them accountable when they cross the line and practice injustice?
I asked that priest to consider how the views of Christian Zionists who have come to see the political state of Israel as a replacement for Jesus is at the center of their Christian faith, and that certainly is not Christianity.
I asked that priest how he could take Genesis 12:3 to literally mean that blessings equal land and political power, and ignore God’s promise in Genesis 21:17-20 to ‘make a great nation out of Ishmael’s descendents’ and that ‘God was with the boy.’
I charged that priest that his way of thinking allows for the continuing military occupation of Palestine and oppression of people that God also made promises to, and I asked him aren't Christians to be on the side of the oppressed and marginalized?
I cautioned that priest that whenever religion and politics get in bed together, we the people for justice and peace always get screwed!
I alerted that priest if he ever considered that the Israeli government is using uninformed, misinformed Christians like him to become apologists in support of their agenda of illegal occupation and settlements in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, Golan, and Gaza, on literal biblical misinterpreted grounds taken out of context.
I admonished that priest to consider how American Christians blind allegiance to every act of Israel as being orchestrated by God and therefore is to be condoned, supported, and even praised, should instead compel all people of integrity and good will to instead question and challenge the true motives of Christians who actually relish the idea of Armageddon-and who love to speculate on who gets left behind on Judgment Day.
After three email exchanges, I never heard from that priest again, but a parishioner of his from his Central Florida church wrote me that he had moved to Jerusalem and was now working at Yad Vashem.
Jesus' other name is The Prince of Peace, and he was very clear that on the final day, there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who were so sure they were in, because they get left out.
If only the self-righteous and militant minded amongst us could remember what they have never even known and seek to do what Jesus promised; be peacemakers, for the peacemakers shall be called the children of God.
Eileen Fleming has been to Israel/Palestine five times since June 2005, reporting on the Christian Exodus from the Holy Land on http://www.wearewideawake.org and as a correspondent for http://www.thepeoplesvoice.org and http://www.opednews.com. She is the author of Keep Hope Alive, an historical fiction based on the memoirs of Dr. Khaled Diab, a '48 refugee from Galilee who founded Olive Trees Foundation for Peace/OTFFP. She is also the author of Memoirs of a Nice Irish American Girl's Life in Occupied Territory, and is now writing her third book, So This is 53, about her experiences living in occupied Palestinian territory from July 14 through July 28, 2007. Fleming is also a volunteer with Palestinian Children's Welfare Fund. She is dedicated to a nonviolent end to the occupation of Palestine.