From "Worlds Apart"In "Special report: Israel and the Middle East," published by The Guardian, London, UK, 9 March 2001
A few weeks ago, two British rabbis, advocates of dialogue with the Palestinians before it was fashionable, decided to join a commemoration of Deir Yassin, the Arab village on the outskirts of Jerusalem attacked during the 1948 war by an Irgun-led force, leaving dozens of civilians dead. Rabbis John Rayner and Jeffrey Newman said they felt a "moral imperative" to participate, adding that any hope of a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians must surely lie in their facing "the truth about themselves" and learning mutual understanding and respect.
Some of the criticism that greeted their initiative was predictable: a British Likud leader said the rabbis had got their facts wrong, that whatever else Deir Yassin was, it occurred during a war for Israel's very existence, and it was not a premeditated massacre. But a letter in this week's Jewish Chronicle probably better reflects the new mood in British Jewry - and the sense, particularly among many early advocates of Israeli-Arab dialogue, of despair and betrayal. It accepted the rabbis' good faith, professed to understand their motives, but added: "When the time comes when a Palestinian leader expresses the desire to attend a memorial day for any of the innocent victims of Arab aggression, I will be very pleased to accompany them to a future Deir Yassin memorial event."