First published by The Jewish Chronicle, UK
Friday, April 12, 2002
Jewish clergy at memorial for 1948 killings:
Rabbi�s prayer at Deir Yassin commemoration
By Bernard Josephs
Photo Caption: Palestinian envoy Afif Safieh (left), the lord mayor and lady mayoress of Westminster and the Foreign Office�s Christopher Prentice among the audience at the memorial ceremony.
A London rabbi on Sunday recited a memorial prayer for Palestinian victims in Israel�s War of Independence.
The Liberal Jewish Synagogue�s Rabbi Mark Solomon was one of three Progressive ministers who attended the St. John�s Wood church ceremony commemorating Palestinian villagers killed by Stern Group and Irgun forces at Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem, in 1948.
He told the JC that he had thought �long and hard� before participating.
�In view of the horrible things that have happened in Israel, I had to debate with myself whether it was right to attend. But I decided it was vitally important that we offer gestures of reconciliation and understanding at a time like this.�
Rabbi Solomon - whose rendition of �El Male Rachamim� closed the memorial - felt that the event had been conducted with �dignity, restraint and humanity.�
The other Jewish clergy at the ceremony were ULPS life president Rabbi John Rayner and Kingston Liberal Synagogue�s Rabbi Danny Rich.
Organised by Deir Yassin Remembered, a joint Jewish and Palestinian initiative, the event drew Arab diplomats, the head of the Foreign Office�s Near East and North Africa Department, Christopher Prentice, and Westminster Lord Mayor Harvey Marshall.
�There was a clear effort to keep politics to a minimum,� Rabbi Solomon said. �The Jews who attended were greeted warmly and with great appreciation. I felt privileged to take part.�
�Some within my community expressed reservations about my participation but I also received a great deal of support, and a number of our members attended.�
The organisers� Jewish director, Paul Eisen, said the London event had been one of a number held in Britain and abroad.
Largely comprising the recital of writings and poetry about Deir Yassin, it had been designed as an act of reconciliation.
Remembering Deir Yassin �does not mean we are blind to the suffering of the Jews and Israelis,� Mr. Eisen declared.