London's Annual Commemoration of the Deir Yassin Massacre: George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, says that he feels the pain of Palestinian suffering.
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, UK
Volume 13, Issue 4010
Tuesday April 9 2002, Page 7
(Click here for original in PDF format — requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
The events at St. John's Wood's church could have happened at the Church of Nativity had it not been for the Israeli Army's butchery in the Holy Land -- in the West Bank's cities, towns, refugee camps and churches.
The annual commemoration of the Deir Yassin Massacre was attended by many members of the Palestinian community, headed by the Palestinian General Delegate to the UK, Afif Safieh, and the Association of the Palestinian Community Chair, Michel Abdel-Masih, residents of the area, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Westminster as well as Arab Ambassadors.
The church's Jewish, Christian and Muslim audience joined Dr. Ahmad Zaki Badawi in reading the first Chapter of the Quran. In addition, Rabbi Mark Solomon sang the hauntingly sad Jewish memorial prayer for the dead of Deir Yassin. This was met with a burst of spontaneous applause.
Deir Yassin Remembered, directed by Paul Eisen, organized the commemoration that included contributions by artists, poets and writers from Palestine and Britain including Jews opposed to Israel.
The commemoration commenced with Dr. Badawi's reading from the Quran about the sins of killing the faithful and the torment that awaits those who torture their victims.
A representative from Lambeth Palace followed with the Archbishop of Canterbury's message expressing his support for the commemoration of the terrible massacre. The statement continued that his recent visit to the Holy Land had brought home to him the "great pain" of current Palestinian suffering, as well as the pain the Palestinians felt when the massacre actually occurred. He continued that the Archbishop saw the commemoration in St Johns Wood as a dedication to the spirit of reform in the Christian church in general and asked God to help the Palestinian people in the Holy Land.
Andy De La Tour read some poetry about individual Palestinian suffering. Llewellyn Harris followed with verses by an Israeli soldier, a 'refusenik' who was disgusted with his mission to subjugate and abuse Palestinians. The poem asked how it was that the soldier got to this situation where he has to kill women children and the poor people of the region and concluded that his government had deceived him.
As short play followed. Nadeem Sawalha played a father who lost part of his family in the massacre, but was in denial about it the massacre. His daughter tries to comfort him. The father repeats over and over "don't you see the traces of blood on the wall?" whilst his daughter consoles him by mentioning the names of Arab states that, she maintains, will "fight for us and return Palestine to us."
Petronella Dittmer played Bach compositions and sang some very emotional Gregorian chants. Corin Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave's brother, read verses from John Donne's sermon "For Whom The Bell Tolls. Corin dedicated it to the bell-ringer martyred in the latest massacre in Bethlehem. "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls: it tolls for thee," he lamented.
Maya Khalil and Rhonda Danil were next with a poetry reading from Fadwa Touqan's poem "Kafani" (Enough for Me) whose message is that she would be satisfied to be buried in her country, to be reborn a flower picked by a new-born child of that land. The poem was a stark allegory of current events.
Michael Rosen's poetry presentation began with his statement that he "is a Jew who is in sympathy and solidarity with the Palestinian people." He followed with a reading by Nelson Mandela, emphasizing the difficulty of struggle and the meaning of steadfastness in the pursuit of liberty. He also read other verses from his own and work.
Then towards the end, young men and women from the Palestinian community, recited, in commemoration, the names of the martyrs who fell at Deir Yassin. The reading, performed as a choral melodic chant, was enhanced by the beautiful voice of Muna Nashashibi.
Best about this commemoration was the lack of speeches. Its segments flowed spontaneously with humanity and sympathy for the suffering of the massacre itself and for the present suffering of the Palestinian people.
The event organizers consider that commemoration of Deir Yassin, coming as it does at the same time as commemoration of the Nazi Holocaust, should draw attention to the close relationship between the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust and the suffering of Palestinians now at the hands of the Nazi-like Ariel Sharon, meanwhile the world merely watches.