Deir Yassin Remembered

"Deir Yassin and its aftermath"

By Afif Safieh
Published by Jewish Chronicle, London, UK, on 6 April 2001
Opinion & Features — Letters to the Editor

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Rabbi Dr. Sidney Brichto (Letters, March 30) seems annoyed at Chaim Weizmann's being quoted in the pamphlet on "Deir Yassin Remembered" as saying "it was a miraculous clearing of the land." But he does not dispute the authenticity or the accuracy of the quotation.

On the massive flight of the Palestinians in 1948, Ben-Gurion also said "it was a miraculous simplification of the problem." I would hope one day to know Dr. Brichto's reaction — as a spiritual leader — on the frequent use of the word "miraculous." As for myself, I have always considered God to be innocent.

Palestinian historians have now documented 537 villages leveled to the ground in 1948 by the Israeli authorities so as to prevent any possible return of Palestinian refugees. As for Deir Yassin, the late Menachem Begin boasted in his 1952 memoirs, "La Révolte," that, without Deir Yassin, there wouldn't have been an Israel and that, after Deir Yassin, the Zionist forces could advance "like a hot knife in butter." He was later advised to remove this from subsequent editions of his memoirs.

The Israeli political establishment inflicted on Palestinians four types of denial. First came the denial of our very existence. Then followed the denial of our rights. All this was accompanied by the denial of our sufferings and the denial of their moral and historical responsibility for this suffering. Dr. Brichto's Naqba [catastrophe] denial is equally disturbing.

If have never "likened" the Naqba to the Holocaust. My conviction has always been that there is no need for comparisons and historical analogies.

No one people has a monopoly on human suffering and every ethnic tragedy stands on its own. If I were a Jew or a Gypsy, Nazi barbarity would be the most atrocious event in history. If I were a Black African, it would be slavery and apartheid. If I were a native American, it would be the discovery of the New World by the European explorers and settlers that resulted in near-total extermination. If I were an Armenian, it would be the Ottoman massacres.

I happen to be a Palestinian, and for me it is the Naqba. Humanity should consider all the above repugnant. I do not consider it advisable to debate hierarchies of suffering. I do not know how to quantify pain or measure suffering. I do know that we are not children of a lesser God.


Deir Yassin Remembered

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