For Deir Yassin Day, April 9, 2007
by Ian Buckley
9-4-1948 was the inscription I read with a magnifying glass. A dark relief map marked - or disfigured - by a plunging sword, redolent of brigands or pirates. Beneath the sword, a bubbling red mass. Finally, balancing the date on the right side, the words : 'The Massacre of Deir Yassin'.
But what, or who, was Deir Yassin? It was an unknown, a name not broadcast on television, not written in newspapers, not mentioned in any books I knew, or marked in my handy pocket atlas. It was an event that seemed to have no external existence, outside of a stamp catalogue. So Deir Yassin, for me, began as a puzzle for a youthful stamp collector.
What does that say about the - utterly illusory - freedom of thought and expression which supposedly prevails in the enlightened, democratic Western world? In reality, it's just the freedom to travel along a very narrow rail of permitted opinion. This silent repression ensured that Deir Yassin was ignored for years, pushed under the carpet, disregarded as an embarrassment to a certain world-view.
Categories are somewhat arbitrary and artificial. I, for example, have more or less ceased to regard myself as British. That is not my flag. That is not my Prime Minister. That is not my government. Better to be classed as some sort of northern European maverick thinker under present circumstances!
Despite this caveat, we may still talk freely of British (or English) killers at Glencoe or Culloden, or of the Japanese massacre at Nanking. However, to speak of Jewish killers at Deir Yassin would be regarded in many quarters as a more heinous 'offence' than the massacre itself. Hence, in large part, the long silence.
The massacre was, in the main, the consequence of a 'divine' ideology of supremacism. An exchange of letters featured under the heading 'War and Genocide' in Prof. Shahak's slim but indispensable book1 gives an idea of this obsessive ideology. Much the same, of course, could be said about Sand Creek or Wounded Knee.
Beyond this, we may distinguish various more general - and worrying - features.
As Jung said, a hundred of the most intelligent men in the world when gathered together form a stupid mob. Five hundred or a thousand would have the collective intelligence and compassion of a crocodile. Neurologists believe the reason for this mob-consciousness is that the reptilian part of the brain (termed the R-complex by Paul Maclean) prevails in such situations. This lower part of the brain is concerned with reflex, appetite, irrationality - and bloody massacres.
It is almost amusing that certain politicians claim to want to encourage 'individualism' when exactly the opposite happens, as the mass-moulding effects of the news media, advertising, education and corporate employment continually increase. Such as the Murdoch press seem to stoke up a mass-mob mentality against Iraqis, Iranians and Muslims in general, encouraging a continual atmosphere of fear. Perhaps fear is the father of cruelty.
Britain and America now send the unwanted surplus of their slimmed (anorexic?) late capitalist economies out to occupy the lands of the feared 'other'. We may hope for no more Deir Yassins, but with these ingredients who can be sure?
May God bless the Palestinian people.
Chapter 3 of Israel Shahak's Jewish History, Jewish Religion