Rabbis Back Deir Yassin MemorialPublished in The Jewish Chronicle, London, UK, on 16 February 2001
Two senior Progressive rabbis are to attend a London commemoration of the 1948 massacre of Palestinians at the village of Deir Yassin.
Rabbi John Rayner, life president of the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues, and the former Finchley Reform minister, Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, this week called on other Jews to join them.
"It seems to us a religious, a Jewish, and, in the best sense, a Zionist thing to do." they said.
The April 1st event is being organised by Deir Yassin Remembered, a group comprising Palestinians and Jews.
Invitations have been sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Arab ambassadors, Palestinian envoy Afif Safieh, MP Tony Benn and representatives of Britain's Muslim and Jewish communities.
A Downing Street spokesman said the invitation was "under consideration."
In a statement explaining their decision to attend, the rabbis said that Jewish guerilla units had massacred "about 110 of the (Deir Yassin) villagers, men, women and children" - an act condemned by Jewish leaders, including David Ben-Gurion. The village was evacuated and "no marker was ever erected to indicate that Deir Yassin had ever existed," the rabbis added.
They believed that their attendance would contribute towards a future in which Jews and Palestinians were "destined to live together, side-by-side and in the same region."
ULPS executive director Rabbi Charles Middleburgh told the JC that while the movement did not "officially support" the event, neither did it oppose it.
"We are a democratic body and we believe people can and should make up their own minds about such matters."
"As Liberal Jews, we are committed to truth and justice."
An Israeli Embassy spokesman commented: "The impulse to identify with Palestinian losses is creditable. But we yearn for the day when Palestinians will show such humanity towards Israelis."