First published by Finger Lakes Times
Friday, April 13, 2007
Genevan Remembers Deir Yassin
Day recalls 1948 massacre of Palestinians
GENEVA Deir Yassin Day, April 9, commemorates the 1948 massacre in Deir Yassin, when Arab villagers were massacred by Jewish terrorists.
Deir Yassin Day was remembered last Saturday at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Professor Daniel McGowan of Geneva, executive director of the Deir Yassin Remembered organization, and Paul Eisen, United Kingdom director of DYR, were the featured speakers. A 33-minute film, “Deir Yassin Remembered,” was shown.
On April 9, 1948, 130 militants of the Irgun (headed by Menachem Begin) and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a peaceful Palestinian village situated between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, just outside the area planned by the United Nations to be assigned as part of the Jewish state of Israel.
Witnesses have testified that about 25 Arabs from Deir Yassin were placed in a truck and paraded in Jerusalem, then taken to a quarry and shot. On April 12, 1948, three days after the slaughter, seventh- and eighth-grade students from a Jewish para-military unit were recruited to count and bury most of the bodies. Survivors who managed to escape still live in refugee camps in neighboring Arab countries.
The Deir Yassin massacre sparked the frenzy that caused more than 530 villages to be depopulated and destroyed. This is known to Palestinians as the Nakba, or the catastrophe - the 1948 expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians, approximately 70 percent of the total Palestinian population, from their homes and from lands on which they had lived for centuries.
When Israelis and Zionists now celebrate Israel Day, the founding of their country, each May 15, Palestinians sorrowfully commemorate the Nakba, a concept unknown to most Americans and not included in Israeli textbooks.
In an essay in The Link, a publication of the Americans for Middle East Understanding, McGowan asserts that, “Palestinians have a history of depopulation, destruction, devastation and discrimination which cannot be denied by indifference.”
According to McGowan, Deir Yassin Remembered’s ultimate goal is to “build a memorial and information center at Deir Yassin, and thereby resurrect what is arguably the single most important event in 20th-century Palestinian history.” The Deir Yassin memorial would be visible to visitors leaving Yad Vashem, Israel’s famous Holocaust museum where the world is taught that “Hope lives when people remember.”
“Deir Yassin Remembered exists to build a memorial to all of Palestinian life and memory,” writes co-director Eisen in a statement on the group’s website, and it is pertinent to “the now over six million dispossessed Palestinians ... living in the many Palestinian communities-in-exile in practically every corner of the world.”
Three memorial plaques have been dedicated so far: one in Glasgow, Scotland; one in East Jerusalem; and most recently, on the western shore of Seneca Lake in Geneva, at the site of DYR’s headquarters.
In addition to their presentation, McGowan and Eisen joined the vigil with Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends at the Beth Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Denise Wobig visits the Geneva Deir Yassin Memorial on Seneca Lake, April 9