Deir Yassin

(click here to read about an Arab study that concluded there was no massacre at Deir Yassin, and that the actual number of people killed was far lower than initially claimed)


Anti-Zionists often mention the phrase "Deir Yassin" - why? What is it?


* For fifty years, critics of Israel have used the battle of Deir Yassin to blacken the image of the Jewish State, alleging that Jewish fighters massacred hundreds of Arab civilians during a battle in that Arab village near Jerusalem in 1948.
- ZOA Press Release: March 9, 1998 - Deir Yassin: History of a Lie

* One of the biggest thorns in the sides of the anti-Zionists has been the seeming moral superiority of the returning Jewish refugees of the Diaspora in the resurrection of the state for their nation. A seemingly impossible task for the anti-Zionists is to deflect attention from their naughty Arab children - with their terrorism, war-making, antisemitism, genocidal ideation, Holocaust denial, human rights abuses, repression of basic freedoms, ethnic cleansing, institutionalized rape and slavery. An awesome challenge indeed. Hence the need to establish 'Moral Relativism' and 'Moral Equivalence'. What the anti-Zionists needed was to show that the Jews too have perpetuated wrongs and evils of their own, hence it then appears biased to hold the Arabs responsible for their behavior if we don't also condemn the Jews.

Of course one would be hard-pressed to find any reasonable person who claimed that the Jews could do no wrong. Indeed both Hitler and Mother Theresa have undoubtedly made ethical mistakes - so do we then conclude that everyone is morally eqivalent, that the world should not hold any single individuals or groups responsible since we are all guilty? Most of us choose not to live in such an anarchist's utopia; in order for society to function and protect our individual safety, there must be moral standards - a right and a wrong, a good and a bad, to be judged by social standards at the time.

But the effort to cloud such judgements on the Arabs is the goal of the anti-Zionists. Some of them even claim that the Jews are the opressors and that the Arabs are the victims. In order to establish this moral inversion, certain historical events are held up as a banner of Jewish original sin. The single sin most often showcased by the anti-Zionists is 'Deir Yassin'.

In 1948, the United Nations partitioned the western fraction of the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish state and yet another Arab state. The Arab world, instead of rejoicing the creation of a second Arab state in Palestine, rejected the partition, desiring all of Palestine for themselves, and expressing the intention to murder every single Jew: "This will be a war of Extermination and a Massacre which will be remembered for generations to come ... Like the great slaughters of the Mongols and the Crusaders". To fulfil that goal, 5 Arab states invaded the new Jewish microstate. Each Arab villiage in western Palestine had to decide for themselves what kind of role they were to play in the war. The villiage of Deir Yassin decided to fully join the genocidal adventures of the 5 invading Arab states, while a few Arab villages like the nearby Abu Ghosh, decided not to participate.

Thus the villiage of Deir Yassin cast itself on the front lines of that terrible war. What followed is hard to establish for a fact, but what is certain is that both sides used the village for propaganda purposes, obscuring further what happened there, and casting substantial doubt on the anti-Zionist claim of an 'equalizing' Jewish sin. For if this is the best the anti-Zionists can come up with, then one can certainly understand their frustration.

- The Society for Rational Peace


Why did the Jewish forces attack Deir Yassin?


* [Deir Yassin] was an integral, inseparable episode in the battle for Jerusalem... [Arab forces] were attempting to cut the only highway linking Jerusalem with Tel Aviv and the outside world. It had cut the pipeline upon which the defenders depended for water. Palestinian Arab contingents, stiffened by men of the regular Iraqi army, had seized vantage points overlooking the Jerusalem road and from them were firing on trucks that tried to reach the beleaguered city with vital food-stuffs and supplies. Dir Yassin, like the strategic hill and village of Kastel, was one of these vantage points. In fact, the two villages were interconnected militarily, reinforcements passing from Dir Yassin to Kastel during the fierce engagement for that hill.
- Abba Eban, Background Notes on Current Themes - No.6: Dir Yassin (Jerusalem: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Information Division, 16 March 1969)

* ...This Arab village in 1948 sat in a key position high on the hill controlling passage on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem road. Those villagers were no different than other nearby Arab villagers who were heavily armed, hostile and aggressive. They also hosted a battle group from the Iraqi army. They had incessantly attacked Jewish convoys trying to supply food and medical supplies to Jerusalem which was under siege and cut-off by Arab armies in linkage with those same villagers. They were killing many Jews. Deir Yassin was a staging area for the villagers and regular army from various Arab armies. They were not innocents as proclaimed by the Arab nations or the Jewish Revisionists.
- from Jewish Historical Revisionists, by Emanuel A. Winston, a Middle East Analyst & commentator

* The Arab village of Deir Yassin was strategically situated on a hill overlooking the main highway entering Jerusalem as well as a number of Jerusalem's western neighborhoods. Estimates of the town's population in 1948 vary. The last official British census, in 1945, counted 610 residents, and Arab sources believe the number had grown to 750 by April 1948.2 The town was also host to several hundred temporary residents who had relocated from other parts of Jerusalem which were close to the battlefields where Arab and Jewish forces were clashing.3 But because of Deir Yassin's strategic location, it was almost inevitable that it, too, would become a battle site.

...An "Arab Liberation Army," sponsored by the Arab League and manned by volunteers from various Arab countries, attacked Jewish communities in Palestine throughout the winter and spring of 1948. Their attacks on Jewish traffic along major routes succeeded in cutting off western Jerusalem from other areas.

...During the week prior to the IZL-Lehi action against Deir Yassin, there were a spate of shooting attacks from the village aimed at Jewish targets in the area. On Friday night, April 2, gunfire from the Deir Yassin area raked the adjacent Jewish neighborhoods of Beit Hakerem and Bayit Vegan.21 On Sunday, April 4, commander Shaltiel received an urgent message from the intelligence officer of the Haganah's Etzioni division: "There's a gathering in Deir Yassin. Armed men left [from Deir Yassin] in the direction of [the nearby town of] lower Motza, northwest of Givat Shaul. They are shooting at passing cars."22 That same day , the deputy commander of the Haganah's Beit Horon brigade, Michael Hapt reported to Shaltiel: "A [Jewish] passenger car from Motza was attacked near the flour mill, below Deir Yassin, and is stopped there. There is rifle fire upon it. You too send an armoured vehicle with weapons. There is concern that the road is cut off."23 An armoured vehicle carrying Lehi fighters was also attacked at the same spot that day. A Haganah intelligence officer who described the incident to his superiors reported that according to Lehi officer David Gottlieb, those of his men who disembarked from their vehicle to return fire said that the attackers appeared to be Arab soldiers rather than local villagers.24 A telegram from Michael Hapt, of the Haganah's Beit Horon brigade, to the Haganah command, at 5:00 p.m. that day, urged: "In order to prevent [an attack] on lower Motza, cutting off of road to Jerusalem, and capture of position south of Tzova, Deir Yassin must be captured."25

Shortly before the battle of Deir Yassin, there was additional troubling news: Mordechai Gihon's lookouts reported that numerous armed men were moving between Ein Kerem and Deir Yassin. Some of the soldiers were wearing Iraqi uniforms, and while many of them had entered Deir Yassin, only a few had returned to Ein Kerem.26 And just hours before the IZL-Lehi action against Deir Yassin began, Shaltiel cabled his colleague Shimon Avidan: "The Arabs in Deir Yassin have trained a mortar on the highway in order to shell the convoy [bringing supplies to besieged Jewish portions of Jerusalem]."27


2 Sharif Kanani and Nihad Zitawi, Deir Yassin, Monograph No.4, Destroyed Palestinian Villages Documentation Project (Bir Zeit: Documentation Center of Bir Zeit University, 1987), p.6.

3 Uri Milstein, The War of Independence: Out of Crisis Came Decision - Volume IV [Hebrew] (Tel Aviv: Zmora-Bitan Publishers, 1991), p. 256.

21 "Shots in Jerusalem,"Davar, 4 April 1948, p.2.

22 Milstein, p. 257, citing the Israel Defense Forces Archives, War of Independence Collection 88/17, "From Hashmonai," 4 April 1948, 10:00 A.M.

23 Milstein, p. 257, citing the Israel Defense Forces Archives, War of Independence Collection 88/17, "From Sa'ar," 4 April 1948, 10:00 A.M.

24 Testimony of David Gottlieb, MZ; Milstein, pp.257-258, citing the Israel Defense Forces Archives, War of Independence Collection 21/17, "From Hashmonai," 4 April 1948.

25 Milstein, p. 258, citing "Operations Log - Arza," 4 April 1948, 17:00 hours, Broadcast #562, Israel Defense Forces Archive, War of Independence Collection, 88/17.

26 Milstein, p.258 (interview with Mordechai Gihon).

27 Milstein, p.258, citing Israel Defense Forces Archive, War of Independence Collection, 228/3, Operation Log, 9 April 1948, 2:40 a.m.

- from Deir Yassin: History of a Lie, ZOA Press Release: March 9, 1998


Did the Jewish fighters massacre the residents of Deir Yassin? Were innocent unnarmed men, women and children butchered and mutilated?


* The first of the Jewish fighting units to reach Deir Yassin was led by a truck armed with a loudspeaker. An Iraqi-born Jew, who spoke fluent Arabic, called out to the residents to leave via the western exit from Deir Yassin, which the attackers had left clear for that purpose. Soon after entering the town, however, the truck was hit by Arab gunfire and careened into a ditch. Repeated efforts by Lehi men to extract the truck, while under fire, proved unsuccessful. Whether or not the truck's message was heard by the villagers is unclear. Several hundred Deir Yassin residents did flee, although it is not clear if they were responding to the announcements, the sound of gunfire, or word-of-mouth warnings from fellow-villagers close to the battle sites. The IZL and Lehi commanders had expected that large numbers of the residents would flee, and the remaining would surrender, perhaps after token resistance. Instead, both groups of Jewish soldiers, entering the town from different sides, immediately encountered fierce volleys of Arab rifle fire, some of it from the foreign troops who had been reported in the area. IZL deputy commander Michael Harif, who was one of the first to enter Deir Yassin, later recalled how, early in the battle, "I saw a man in khaki run ahead. I thought he was one of us, I ran after him and told him, 'Move ahead to that house!' Suddenly he turned, pointed his weapon at me and fired. He was an Iraqi soldier. I was wounded in the leg."31 Lehi's Patchiah Zalivensky later recalled that among the Arab soldiers killed by his unit was a Yugoslavian Muslim officer, whose identification papers indicated he had been with the all-Muslim units of the Nazi SS that had been organized in Yugoslavia during World War II by Haj Amin el-Husseini, the Palestinian Arab leader and Nazi collaborator.32 In an alleyway, Lehi soldier Ezra Yachin came face to face with an Arab armed with a rifle. Instantly he started to release the bolt. The measure of those fearful seconds! Who would shoot first? Who would survive? It was I who pulled the trigger first--but it didn't work. My foe turned to leap over an old wall, and as he did so he shot at me. I felt a pain in my right thigh...Dror [Mordechai Ben-Uziahu] had clambered up onto a rooftop from where he was able to spot my assailant who was dressed in the uniform of an Iraqi officer, and shot him.33

The substantial quantities of weapons and ammunition that the IZL and Lehi men found in Deir Yassin provided additional confirmation of earlier suspicions that the village had been turning into a heavily-armed Arab military post. Yehuda Lapidot, deputy commander of the IZL force in Deir Yassin, later recalled: "A cache of ammunition for English rifles which we found in the village saved the day. We filled the clips for the Bren [machine-gun], distributed weapons to the boys and fought on." In another house, IZL fighter Yehoshua Gorodenchik discovered an additional 20 clips of ammunition for the Bren gun.34 Lehi soldiers David Gottlieb, Moshe Barzili, and Moshe Idelstein found a huge quantity of Czech rifle bullets which did not fit their rifles; they offered to trade 6,000 of them to the Haganah for 3,000 British bullets.35

The Jewish fighters' advance into Deir Yassin was painstakingly slow because of the intense Arab firepower. The IZL's Reuven Greenberg reported later that "the Arabs fought like lions and excelled at accurate sniping." He also noted that "[Arab] women ran from the houses under fire, collected the weapons which had fallen from the hands of Arab fighters who had been wounded, and brought them back into the houses."36 There were also instances in which, after storming a house, dead Arab women were found with guns in their hands, indicating that they had taken part in the battle.37 "To take a house," Ezra Yachin recalled, "you had either to throw a grenade or shoot your way into it. If you were foolish enough to open doors, you got shot down--sometimes by men dressed up as women, shooting out at you in a second of surprise."38

When they tried to storm some of the individual stone houses, the Lehi fighters were surprised to discover that most of the homes had doors made of iron, not wood as their pre-battle briefings had led them to believe. The attackers had no choice but to attach powerful explosives to the doors to blow them open, and a number of the inhabitants were inadvertently killed or wounded in the explosions.39 Slowly, house by house, the Lehi forces advanced.

On the other side of the village, meanwhile, the IZL soldiers were having less success. By 7:00 a.m., the IZL commanders, stymied by the Arab resistance and their own mounting casualties, sent a messenger to the Lehi camp that they were seriously considering retreating from the town altogether. The Lehi commanders told the messenger to inform the IZL that Lehi had already penetrated the village and expected victory soon. The IZL quickly arranged to receive a supply of explosives from their base in Givat Shaul, and proceeded to blast their way into house after house. In some cases, entire sections of the houses collapsed from the force of the explosion, burying the Arab soldiers as well as civilians who were still inside. It is unclear if the civilians had chosen to stay of their own free, or were held hostage by Arab soldiers who thought that their presence would deter the Jewish forces--a tactic frequently employed by Arab terrorists in southern Lebanon in our own era.40 At the same time, there were numerous instances of Arabs emerging from the houses and surrendering; more than 100 were taken prison by the end of the day. At least two Haganah members who were on the scene later recalled hearing the Lehi repeatedly using a loudspeaker to implore the residents to surrender.41 There were also instances in which Arabs feigned surrender, then produced hidden weapons and shot at their would-be Jewish captors.42


31 Milstein interview with Harif, p.262.

32 Milstein, p.263 (interview with Zalivensky).

33 Yachin's testimony is quoted at length in Lynne Reid Banks, A Torn Country: An Oral History of the Israeli War of Independence (New York: Franklin Watts, 1982), pp. 58-65.

34 Milstein, p.265 (interviews with Yehuda Lapidot and Yehoshua Gorodenchik).

35 Milstein, p.265, citing Israel Defense Forces Archive, Yitzhak Levy collection, "Report of Yaakov Weg."

36 Testimony of Reuven Greenberg.

37 Testimony of Yehoshua Gorodenchik, MZ.

38 Banks, op.cit., p.62.

39 Testimony of Yehoshua Gorodenchik, MZ.

40 Milstein, pp.264-265, interviews with Ezra Yachin, Mordechai Ra'anan, Benzion Cohen and Yehuda Lapidot; Testimonies of Mordechai Ra'anan, Benzion Cohen, and Yehuda Lapidot.

41 Milstein, p.263, interview with Uri Brenner; Daniel Spicehandler's testimony, quoted in Ralph G. Martin, Golda: Golda Meir - The Romantic Years (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988), p.329.

42 Testimony of Yehoshua Gorodenchik, MZ. Benny Morris, a harsh critic of the IZL and Lehi, has characterized Gorodenchik's testimony as "confused." (Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p.323, n.175.

- from Deir Yassin: History of a Lie, ZOA Press Release: March 9, 1998

* "The Jews never intended to harm the population of the village, but were forced to do so after they encountered fire from the population, which killed the Irgun commander."
- Yunes Ahmed Assad, a Deir Yassin survivor, Al Urdun (Jordanian Newspaper), April 9, 1953, quoted by the Israel Office of Information, under Golda Meir, 1960


Did the Jewish fighters rape Arab women during the Deir Yassin battle?


* Arab propagandists routinely claim that the Jewish fighters raped Arab women during the Deir Yassin battle, but evidence to support the allegation is lacking. To begin with, the charge of sexual assault is completely at variance with the behavior of Jewish soldiers throughout both the 1948 war and subsequent Arab-Israeli wars. (By contrast, Arabs frequently raped Jewish women during Arab attacks on Jewish communities, such as the 1929 riots in Hebron.)

As noted earlier, Dr. Engel, who accompanied Jacques de Reynier of the Red Cross, reported that he "did not see any signs of defilement, mutilation, or rape."75 Daniel Spicehandler, a member of a Haganah unit sent to assist the IZL, said later: "So far as I saw, there was no rape or looting."76 An Arab survivor of the Deir Yassin battle, Muhammad Arif Sammour, told author Eric Silver emphatically that there were no sexual attacks. Silver wrote: "Sammour, who has no reason to minimize the atrocities, is convinced that there were no sexual assault: 'I didn't hear or see anything of rape or attacks on pregnant women. None of the other survivors ever talked to me about that kind of thing. If anybody told you that, I don't believe it.'"77 Sammour's statement is corroborated by the testimony of two Jewish doctors physicians, Drs. Z. Avigdori and A. Droyan. At the request of the Jewish Agency, Avigdori and Droyan were sent by the Histadrut Medical Committee [the Labor Zionist-affiliated trade union], in Jerusalem, to Deir Yassin on Monday, April 12. They examined the bodies and reported that "all the bodies were clothed, the limbs were intact, and no sign of mutilation was visible on them."78

The original source of the Deir Yassin rape accusation was a senior British police official. Since the British Mandatory authorities were still in power at the time of the Deir Yassin battle--they were not due toleave Palestine until May 15, more than a month later--the British police carried out their own investigation of the events, led by Richard C. Catling, Assistant Inspector General of the Mandatory regime's Criminal Investigation Division and a specialist in Jewish matters.

Catling was not, however, the most objective person to be investigating whether or not the IZL and Lehi had carried out atrocities against Arab civilians.

For much of the previous decade, Catling had played a prominent role in the Mandate regime's violent struggles with the Jewish fighting forces and with the IZL and Lehi in particular, who had assassinated numerous leading British police officers and military officials, and had publicly humiliated the English forces with retaliatory hangings, public whippings, assaults on supposedly-invulnerable police stations and army bases, and spectacular prison breaks. Catling himself narrowly escaped death at the IZL's hands on more than one occasion. He was at British police headquarters in Jerusalem during an IZL raid in 1944, in which a colleague of his was killed, and one of the suspects captured. While Catling was brutally beating the suspect, an IZL bomb shook the station. "John Scott was a good friend of mine," Catling later recalled. "We had this unfortunate suspect in [Inspector-General Arthur] Giles's office and I was knocking him about like hell. I freely admit it. Then the bomb went off. We were thrown across the room, and covered in plaster." Two years later, Catling happened to be standing near the reception desk in the main lobby of the King David Hotel --military headquarters of the British Mandate regime--when the IZL bombed it in 1946. At the sound of the massive explosion, Catling dove under the reception desk and was saved.79

Catling visited the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan five days after the battle of Deir Yassin, and interviewed a number of Arab women who said they had been at Deir Yassin the previous week. "The majority ofthose women are very shy and reluctant to relate their experiences especially in matters concerning sexual assault and they need great coaxing before they will divulge any information," Catling wrote. When he was finished "coaxing" them, Catling was able to conclude that "many sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews." According to Catling, "many young school girls were raped and later slaughtered," "old women were also molested," "many infants were also butchered," and "one story is current concerning a case in which a young girl was literally torn in two."80 Catling may have been understandably eager to believe any allegation made against the hated IZL and Lehi, but the lack of corroboration from other sources, combined with Catling's likely bias and his own admission that he engaged in "great coaxing" of the Arab women he interviewed, raises serious doubts as to the veracity of their allegations.


75 Milstein, pp.269-270 (interview with Alfred Engel, 7 December 1987).

76 Spicehandler testimony in Martin, op.cit.

77 Silver, p.95

78 David Shaltiel, Jerusalem 1948, p.140; Aryeh Yitzhaki, "Deir Yassin--Not Through a Warped Mirror," Yediot Ahronot, 14 April 1972, p.17.

79 Thurston Clarke, By Blood and Fire: July 22, 1946 - The Attack on Jerusalem's King David Hotel (New York: G.P.Putnam's Sons, 1981), p.224; Nicholas Bethell, The Palestine Triangle: The Struggle for the Holy Land, 1935-48 (New York: G.P.Putnam's Sons, 1979) p.156.

80 A long excerpt from Catling's report may be found in Collins and Lapierre, p.276.

- from Deir Yassin: History of a Lie, ZOA Press Release: March 9, 1998


How many were killed? Doesn't the Arab propagandist, Edward Said, claim that 250 people were killed in Deir Yassin?


* "Paradoxically, the Jews say about 250 out of 400 village inhabitants [were killed], while Arab survivors say only 110 of 1,000."
- Dan Kurzman, in Genesis 1948, (OH: New American Library, Inc., 1970)

* "...representatives of each of the five clans in Deir Yassin met in Jerusalem in the Moslem offices near the Al Aqsa mosque and made a list of the people who had not been found. We went through the names. It came to 116. Nothing has happened since 1948 to make me think this figure was wrong."
- Muhammad Arif Sammour, quoted in Begin: The Haunted Prophet, by Eric Silver

* "I know when I speak that God is up there and God knows the truth and God will not forgive the liars," said Radwan, who puts the number of villagers killed at 93, listed in his own handwriting. "There were no rapes. It's all lies. There were no pregnant women who were slit open. It was propaganda that... Arabs put out so Arab armies would invade," he said. "They ended up expelling people from all of Palestine on the rumor of Deir Yassin."
- Mohammed Radwan, fought and survived the Deir Yassin battle, reported by Paul Holmes, Middle East Times, 20-April-1998

* In 1987, the Research and Documentation Center of Bir Zeit University, a prominent Arab university in the territory now controlled by the Palestinian Authority, published a comprehensive study of the history of Deir Yassin, as part of its "Destroyed Palestinian Villages Documentation Project." The Center's findings concerning Deir Yassin were published, in Arabic only, as the fourth booklet in its "Destroyed Arab Villages Series."

The purpose of the project, according to its directors, is "to gather information from persons who lived in these villages and were directly familiar with them, and then to compare these reports and publish them in order to preserve for future generations the special identity and particular characteristics of each village."88

The Bir Zeit study's description of the 1948 battle of Deir Yassin began with the hyperbole typical of many accounts of the event, calling it "a massacre the likes of which history has rarely known."89 But unlike the authors of any other previous study of Deir Yassin, the Bir Zeit researchers tracked down the surviving Arab eyewitness to the attack and personally interviewed each of them. "For the most part, we have gathered the information in this monograph during the months of February-May 1985 from Deir Yassin natives living in the Ramallah region, who were extremely cooperative," the Bir Zeit authors explained, listing by name twelve former Deir Yassin residents whom they had interviewed concerning the battle. The study continued: "The [historical] sources which discuss the Deir Yassin massacre unanimously agree that number of victims ranges between 250-254; however, when we examined the names which appear in the various sources, we became absolutely convinced that the number of those killed does not exceed 120, and that the groups which carried out the massacre exaggerated the numbers in order to frighten Palestinian residents into leaving their villages and cities without resistance."90 The authors concluded: "Below is a list of the names and ages of those killed at Deir Yassin in the massacre which took place on April 9, 1948, which was compiled by us on the basis of the testimony of Deir Yassin natives. We have invested great effort in checking it and in making certain of each name on it, such that we can say, with no hesitation, that it is the most accurate list of its type until today." A list of 107 people killed and twelve wounded followed.91


88 Kanani and Zitawi, Deir Yassin (Bir Zeit study), p.5.

89 Ibid., p.7.

90 Ibid., pp.7-.8.

91 Ibid., p.57.

- from Deir Yassin: History of a Lie, ZOA Press Release: March 9, 1998


Doesn't the Arab propagandist, Edward Said, claim that Menachem Begin admitted in his book to being responsible for the 'massacre'?


* from "The Revolt", by Menachem Begin, Dell Publishing, NY, 1977, pp. 225-227:

"Apart from the military aspect, there is a moral aspect to the story of Dir Yassin. At that village, whose name was publicized throughout the world, both sides suffered heavy casualties. We had four killed and nearly forty wounded. The number of casualties was nearly forty percent of the total number of the attackers. The Arab troops suffered casualties neraly three times as heavy. The fighting was thus very severe. Yet the hostile propaganda, disseminated throughout the world, deliberately ignored the fact that the civilian population of Dir Yassin was actually given a warning by us before the battle began. One of our tenders carrying a loud speaker was stationed at the entrance to the village and it exhorted in Arabic all women, children and aged to leave their houses and to take shelter on the slopes of the hill. By giving this humane warning our fighters threw away the element of complete surprise, and thus increased their own risk in the ensuing battle. A substantial number of the inhabitants obeyed the warning and they were unhurt. A few did not leave their stone houses - perhaps because of the confusion. The fire of the enemy was murderous - to which the number of our casualties bears eloquent testimony. Our men were compelled to fight for every house; to overcome the enemy they used large numbers of hand grenades. And the civilians who had disregarded our warnings suffered inevitable casualties.

"The education which we gave our soldiers throughout the years of revolt was based on the observance of the traditional laws of war. We never broke them unless the enemy first did so and thus forced us, in accordance with the accepted custom of war, to apply reprisals. I am convinced, too, that our officers and men wished to avoid a single unnecessary casualty in the Dir Yassin battle. But those who throw stones of denunciation at the conquerors of Dir Yassin would do well not to don the cloak of hypocrisy.

"In connection with the capture of Dir Yassin the Jewish Agency found it necessary to send a letter of apology to Abdullah, whom Mr. Ben Gurion, at a moment of great political emotion, called 'the wise ruler who seeks the good of his people and this country.' The 'wise ruler,' whose mercenary forces demolished Gush Etzion and flung the bodies of its heroic defenders to birds of prey, replied with feudal superciliousness. He rejected the apology and replied that the Jews were all to blame and that he did not believe in the existence of 'dissidents.' Throughout the Arab world and the world at large a wave of lying propaganda was let loose about 'Jewish attrocities.'

"The enemy propaganda was designed to besmirch our name. In the result it helped us. Panic overwhelmed the Arabs of Eretz Israel. Kolonia village, which had previously repulsed every attack of the Haganah, was evacuated overnight and fell without further fighting. Beit-Iksa was also evacuated. These two places overlooked the main road; and their fall, together with the capture of Kastel by the Haganah, made it possible to keep open the road to Jerusalem. In the rest of the country, too, the Arabs began to flee in terror, even before they clashed with Jewish forces. Not what happened at Dir Yassin, but what was invented about Dir Yassin, helped to carve the way to our decisive victories on the battlefield. The legend of Dir Yassin helped us in particular in the saving of Tiberias and the conquest of Haifa".

A footnote from "The Revolt", pp.226-7:

"To counteract the loss of Dir yassin, a village of strategic importance, Arab headquarters at Ramallah broadcast a crude atrocity story, alleging a massacre by Irgun troops of women and children in the village. Certain Jewish officials, fearing the Irgun men as political rivals, seized upon this Arab gruel propaganda to smear the Irgun. An eminent Rabbi was induced to reprimand the Irgun before he had time to sift the truth. Out of evil, however, good came. This Arab propaganda spread a legend of terror amongst Arabs and Arab troops, who were seized with panic at the mention of Irgun soldiers. The legend was worth half a dozen battalions to the forces of Israel. The `Dir Yassin Massacre' lie is still propagated by Jew-haters all over the world".


What were the motivations of the various players in the propaganda about Deir Yassin?


* The Arab Higher Committee hoped exaggerated reports about a "massacre" at Deir Yassin would shock the population of the Arab countries into bringing pressure on their governments to intervene in Palestine. Instead, the immediate impact was to stimulate a new Palestinian exodus.
- from Deir Yassin, by Mitchell Bard of JSOURCE

* "I asked Dr. Khalidi how we should cover the story. He said, 'We must make the most of this'. So we wrote a press release stating that at Deir Yassin children were murdered, pregnant women were raped. All sorts of atrocities."
- Hazen Nusseibeh, an editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service's Arabic news in 1948, was interviewed for the BBC television series "Israel and the Arabs: the 50-year conflict." He describes an encounter with Deir Yassin survivors and Palestinian leaders, including Hussein Khalidi, the secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, at the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City.

* ...for a clearer picture on the Dir Yassin scene I suggest that you read the new detailed research by Uri Milstein which proves quite convincingly that the "Massacre" in DY was a fiction of the Hagana in order to smear the Irgun & Lehi. The Number of 254 of killed is a complete fiction which was very convenient to everyone (Hagana, Irgun,Arabs [to perpetrate anger and unite the Arabs] and British). The real number is 110.

Most of the horror stories from a scene was fabricated by a Hagana officer Meir Pail(pilavsky), who was not at the scene, but tried to manufacture a horrid version of the story. [He was one of the most vigorous anti-Irgun officers and did nothing to hide it].

All this information and a lot more [about Palmach's part in the conquest of the village and the lack of any evidence for sexual abuse in the bodies by the Hagana and Red Cross although Pail claimed that he saw sexual abuse] can be read in Milstein's history book:

"History of the Independence War Volume 4: From Crisis came Decision" by Uri Milstein.

A very interesting newpaper article is "There was no Massacre there" by Yerach Tal Ha'Aretz 8.9.91 Page B3 which reviews the Milstein research with reactions which are quite unconvincing from Pail and others.

Another article which views the Arab side "Massacre was done there" by Dani Rubinstein Ha'Aretz 11.9.91 Page B2 states that in a new Bir-Zeit research of the affair the number of killed was estimated at 107. The claims were much exagerrated by Arab media and hearsay while the Jews did nothing to reveal the truth from propaganda and internal considerations reasons.

All these sources had vested interest in exasgerating the truth. Irgun: To frighten the Arabs. Hagana: To frighten the Arabs, to throw mud on the Irgun. British: To throw mud on the Jews (and praticularly Irgun). Arabs: to unify and envigorate Arab anger against the Jews and indeed this resulted in the Hadassa masscare of 78 Jewish doctors and nurses. This also created a by-product effect not desired by Arabs of enormous fear from the Jews.


Isn't the massacre account of Deir Yassin more believable given the terrorism that the Jewish thugs normally employed?


* ...I love it when PLO supporters complain about terrorism. As for Irgun and Lehi terror, it is a well known fact that all means were taken to avoid targetting civilians.

Lehi and Irgun targetted British military officials most of the time. Even the bombing of the King David Hotel was preceded by a warning by the Irgun calling for evacuation. Read up on Deir Yassin - it isn't as clear cut of a case of massacre as you think - there are several good accounts which contradict your version of the story. Once again, have you ever heard of Gush Etzion? Sorry, the arguments go both ways here.

Certainly there have been instances where Israel may have attacked civilians. Even if I grant you Deir Yassin (which I don't) there has never been any Israeli policy to attack civilians even comparable to thePalestinians' war of terror against Israeli civilians. Nothing even comes close to PLO terror which (along with the sentiments of Arab states to drive the Jews into the sea) is an organized campaign to kill innocent people. To even compare what Israel has done is like comparing apples and oranges.

There were many more incidents when "thugs" called off an operation (attack on British officer) just becuase his wife was in the car, and risked brutal punishment (or even death) when captures. another story tells about a group of "thugs" who planed derailing a British ,military train and in the last minute they noticed that the wrong train is going to be hurt and in personal danger removed the bomb. This is true of all 3 organizations.

I think that Israelis would have been in deep trouble if they had such a rivals in the Arab side - Heroic yet human fighters would have made a lot more imapct than the cowards of Munchen/Maalot/Sabena/BG Airport etc.

Pushing busses over the cliff, putting bombs in bread loaves is both less hurting and antagonized the whole world toward the PLO.