Deir Yassin eventPublished in The Jewish Chronicle, London, UK, on March 9, 2001
The events on April 9, 1948 are not so difficult to ascertain. We know that, at the time, Deir Yassin was designated a peaceful village. The village had, a short while previously, contracted a non-aggression pact with the neighboring Jewish settlement of Givat Shaul and there are reports that they had asked Arab irregular forces to leave the village because they feared reprisals. That the site may have had some strategic importance may well be true, but can this be used to justify the massacre?
It is certainly true that tales of the massacre were foolishly spread by the Palestinian leadership. It is also true that they were intentionally spread by the Zionist leadership with the purpose of terrifying the local population into flight.
It is also true that both sides have atrocity stories to tell. However, we commemorate Deir Yassin, not because it was an atrocity but because, more than any other single event, it signaled, and has come to symbolize, the Palestinian dispossession for which I believe, as Jews, we bear some responsibility.
Director, Deir Yassin Remembered, Drayton Park, London N5