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Deir Yassin battle: fake "massacre"

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May 2009

A Mythical Massacre: Deir Yassin

Thomas D. Ice

Liberty University,


Tom's Perspectives

by Thomas Ice

Hank Hanegraaff is an advocate of Christian Palestinianism!1 Hanegraaff's pro-Palestinianism has been advanced at the expense of the modern state of Israel. When I stated in an article that, "Hanegraaff is no lover of Israel,"2 he responded by saying that my statement "is flatly false."3 Hanegraaff cited from his book, The Apocalypse Code4 his

most positive statement about Israel in defense, which merely says, "the modern state of Israel has a definitive right to exist."5

If that is all he said it might have been

acceptable. However, when compared to what he says about and against the modern state of Israel, his answer does nothing to rebut my statement that Hanegraaff is no lover of Israel.


For years Hanegraaff has had on his "Bible Answer Man" radio program guests that

have essentially an anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian viewpoint such as Gary Burge, Brother Andrew, Stephen Sizer, and Colin Chapman.6

I am not aware of any pro-Israel guests that he has hosted on his program. Thus, it was not surprising when The Apocalypse Code came out, Hanegraaff's non-fiction book on eschatology, that he articulated an anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian narrative.

Hanegraaff argues that Israel has gained her land through unlawful tactics, like

massacres and ethnic cleansing, and presently oppresses the poor, downtrodden


The clear implication throughout is that those of us who support modern Israel out of biblical conviction are enabling an injustice to take place in the Middle East.

Hanegraaff has sought out evidence to support his notion that Israel has come into existence through immoral means. He presents the Arabs, who have only in the last 35 years come to be known as Palestinians, as all indigenous to the land and victims of Israel's aggression.

Hanegraaff is apparently either unaware of or not interested to read the account of former pro-Palestinian Joan Peters' documentation of the fact that most

Arab immigration to Israel came after the returning Jews founded prosperous

communities that provided economic opportunity for Arabs as well.8

Further, Hanegraaff and his cadre of Christian Palestinians ignore the real cause of Palestinian Christian oppression, which is Islamic, not Israeli based.9


In his book The Apocalypse Code, Hanegraaff cites a battle that took place in an Arab town West of Jerusalem in 1948. He says, "Brother Andrew . . . recalls the well-known 1948 massacre of Deir Yassin in which an entire village of two hundred fifty men, women, children, and babies were brutally slaughtered by the Israeli paramilitary."10

Hanegraaff then quotes Brother Andrew's account as follows: "A few men were left alive and driven around to other villages to tell the story; then those men were killed

too. The result was a panic. That's why so many Palestinians fled. Entire villages were emptied, which is exactly what the Israelis wanted. They just took over those people's homes."11

What really happened during this battle?

Virtually nothing in the above description of the battle of Deir Yassin is correct.

First of all, it was a military campaign not a massacre. Even before Israel's declaration of national independence on May 14, 1948, Arabs were already attacking Jewish communities in the land and were blockading Jerusalem, since it was made up of primarily Jewish residents. Furthermore, six Arab nations also attacked Israel in their stated goal to drive all Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. The town of "Deir Yassin was strategically situated on a hill overlooking the main highway entering Jerusalem."12

It has been documented that by March, 1948 that about 150 soldiers from Syria, but mainly from Iraq had taken up posts in Deir Yassin. A series of attacks on Jewish convoys to Jerusalem were launched by Arab soldiers disguised as villagers from Deir Yassin.

The Arabs began to regularly shell Jewish convoys and parts of West Jerusalem from Deir Yassin. 13

It is not surprising that Jewish military leadership decided in April that year that they must take over Deir Yassin for obvious strategic reasons. Since the Israeli army was not formed until after statehood was declared, it was decided that Menachem Begin's Irgun forces, aided by the Haganah, would attack Deir Yassin.

Begin helped plan but did not take part in the battle.

As the Jews approached the village to attack it, they were led by a truck with a loudspeaker that warned civilians to flee via the rear of the village that the Jews kept open during the entire battle "and more than 200 residents left unharmed."14

"It is unclear if the civilians had chosen to stay of their own free will, or were held hostage by Arab soldiers who thought that their presence would deter the Jewish forces."15

If the intent was to perpetrate a massacre then no one would have been warned or allowed to leave. Before the battle, the Arab's had fortified the houses in Deir Yassin and placed Iraqi soldiers in the houses. The homes had doors made of iron, which replaced the more common wood doors. The battle was a difficult one for the Jews lasting hours.

Because the houses were fortified, the Jews had to dynamite open most of the doors, which caused a higher than expected number of casualties among the Arabs, and accounts for most of the civilians who were injured or killed.

"After the remaining Arabs feigned surrender and then fired on the Jewish troops, some Jews killed Arab soldiers and civilians indiscriminately."16

Some of the Arab soldiers dressed up like women with the veils that covered their faces. The Jews began to search each individual they had captured to insure that they were unarmed. "One of the people being checked realized he had been caught, took out a pistol and shot the Jewish commander. His friends, crazed with anger, shot in all directions and killed the Arabs in the area."17

"The Irgun suffered 41 casualties, including four dead."18

Instead, of 250 as stated above, the current consensus of both Arab and Israeli investigation agree that Arab casualties were 107 killed and 12 wounded.19

"Contrary to claims from Arab propagandists at the time and some since, no evidence has ever been produced that any women were raped. On the contrary, every villager ever interviewed has denied these allegations."20

There is no evidence to support the notion that a few of the remaining survivors of the so-called "massacre" were taken to other Arab villages causing them to flee.

Instead, those captured were taken to Jerusalem and later released.21

Initial news reports, like one in the New York Times, simply reported about the battle with no hint of a massacre. The day after the battle, "the Irgun escorted a representative of the Red Cross through the town and held a press conference."22

There was no hint of a massacre, that myth was developed later. What came did come just a few days after the battle of Deir Yassin was an Arab ambush of "a Jewish convoy on the way to Hadassah Hospital, killing 77 Jews, including doctors, nurses, patients, and the director of the hospital. Another 23 people were injured. This massacre attracted little attention and is never mentioned by those who are quick to bring up Deir Yassin. Moreover, despite attacks such as this against the Jewish community in Palestine, in which more than 500 Jews were killed in the first four months after the partition decision alone, Jews did not flee."23

The Jews had nowhere to go.


It is true that upon occasion there were a few Jews that committed some atrocities

against Arabs during Israel's War for Independence, which can be classified as war crimes. However, they were few and far between and were not indicative of the leadership of the new Jewish state. Peters contradicts another of Hanegraaff's false claims when she notes: "According to a research report by the Arab-sponsored Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut, however, 'the majority' of the Arab refugees in 1948 were not expelled, and '68%' left without seeing an Israeli soldier."24

While Arabs had the option of fleeing to many different Arab nations, most of the 800,000 Jewish refugees expelled from Arab nations in the late 40s had nowhere to go but Israel. I doubt Christian Zionists had much to do with such events. Maranatha!



A term coined by British scholar Paul Wilkinson of those who reject biblical Zionism and champion the Palestinian cause against Israel. Paul Richard Wilkinson, "John Nelson Darby and the Origins of Christian Zionism" (PhD thesis, Univ. of Manchester, 2006), pp. 88–121.


Thomas Ice, "Hanegraaff Calls Tim LaHaye a Racist and Blasphemer," National Liberty Journal (April 2007).


Hank Hanegraaff, "Response to National Liberty Journal Article on The Apocalypse Code," www.equip.org.


Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007).


Hanegraaff, "Response."


Their views are documented in the following books: Gary M. Burge, Whose Land? Whose Promise?

(Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2003); Brother Andrew and Al Janssen, Light Force: A Stirring Account of the Church Caught in the Middle East Crossfire (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2004); Stephen Sizer, Christian Zionism:

Road-map to Armageddon? (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004); Colin Chapman, Whose Promised

Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002).


See Hanegraaff, Apocalypse Code, pp. xxii–xxiv, 162–69, 189, 196, 223–26, 241n34, 261n3, n8, 268n65.


Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine (New York: J. KAP Publishing, 1984).


The Islamic and not Israeli oppression of Christians in the Holy Land has been documented by the scholar Justus Reid Weiner, "Palestinian Christians: Silent Victims of a Zero-Sum Game?" Mediterranean Journal of Human Rights, 2004.


Hanegraaff, Apocalypse Code, p. xxiv.


Brother Andrew, Light Force, p. 110 as cited in Hanegraaff, Apocalypse Code, p. xxiv. The source for B. Andrew's account is from an Arab.


Morton A. Klein, Deir Yassin: History of a Lie (New York: Zionist Organization of America, n.d.), p. 5.


Klein, Deir Yassin, p. 9.


Mitchell G. Bard, Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Chevy Chase, MD: American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2001), p. 174.


Klein, Deir Yassin, p. 12.


Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 174. 17

Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 174. 18

Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 173. 19

Klein, Deir Yassin, p. 22. Hanegraaff even admits to the lower total in a footnote, Apocalypse Code, p.

Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 174.


Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 174.


Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 173.


Klein, Deir Yassin, p. 22. Hanegraaff even admits to the lower total in a footnote, Apocalypse Code, p. 241n34.


Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 174. 21

Klein, Deir Yassin, pp. 13–15. 22

Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 173. 23

Bard, Myths and Facts, p. 175. 24

Peters, From Time Immemorial, p. 13.



The Birth of a Palestinian Nation: The Myth of the Deir Yassin Massacre

Uri Milstein - Gefen, 2012 - Political Science - 264 pages

In the pre-dawn hours of April 9, 1948, men of the nascent Israeli state s underground defense organizations Etzel and Lehi converged on the Arab village of Deir Yassin.

By the end of the day, many were dead, Deir Yassin was in Jewish hands, and the epic lies about the so-called massacre that happened there had begun. Deir Yassin is the most infamous episode of Israel s War of Independence. A basic founding myth in Palestinian culture, it serves as grounds for the claim that the Jews undertook genocide and mass deportation against the Palestinians in 1948.

The continued Palestinian unwillingness to make peace with Israel stems in no small measure from the place that Deir Yassin holds in contemporary Palestinian consciousness. The Deir Yassin affair is also a founding myth of the new Israeli left, which casts doubt on the justification for the establishment and continued existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish national state. It is therefore not only a historic episode, but a very contemporary one. This meticulously researched book, based on archives and abundant eyewitness interviews, shows that there never was any massacre in Deir Yassin, explains the motivations of the various parties for the blood libel that sprang up around this affair, and probes its consequences.

Uri Milstein brings to his exposition of the facts a lifetime of experience in Israeli military history and a keen eye for the truth.



Book Review: The Myth of the Deir Yassin Massacre

The roots of the mythical Palestinian nation were planted in the fabrications that followed the battle at Dier Yassin in 1948. A must read for those who want to know the truth, written by one of Israel's most eminent military historians.

Yonatan Silverman


For 64 years, since 1948, the recollection of the so-called "massacre" of the Arab village of Deir Yassin has been a crucible and a formative experience in Arab Jewish relations, in Israel in particular, but also throughout the whole Arab world.

The massacre story has been an important factor in establishing the idea of a Palestinian nation.

The so-called massacre has also been exploited by Israel's left to undermine acceptance of and confidence in the Zionist state.

Now, Dr. Uri Milstein, one of Israel's most pre-eminent historians, has published a book that appears in English, "The Birth of a Palestinian Nation - The Myth of the Deir Yassin Massacre" by Gefen Publishers, which marshals the facts to prove that there was no massacre in Deir Yassin after all.

The Story

The Arab village of Deir Yassin no longer exists, but in 1948, during Israel's War of Independence, Deir Yassin was situated on the western edge of Jerusalem near the Givat Shaul neighborhood.

Although according to what became the accepted version, Deir Yassin was a peaceful Arab village, Dr. Milstein explains that this was really not so. Among other things Arab attacks against Jewish transportation in western Jerusalem emanated from Deir Yassin in 1948 and it was therefore necessary to take measures to take over the village.

The Jewish effort against Deir Yassin originated as a joint plan of the two underground groups, that existed before the declaration of the Jewish state,, Irgun and LEHI, also known as Revisionists, The scheduled date was 9 April 1948.

Milstein shows that Jerusalem's Hagana commander David Shaltiel was informed of the operation and gave his approval. The Hagana also cooperated with Irgun and LEHI in planning the operation. The Palmach also actively participated in the fighting at one stage.

The joint Irgun-LEHI operation at Deir Yassin began at 4:30 AM on 9 April 1948. The Jewish fighters met serious resistance.

Yehoshua Zeitler, one of the fighters, wrote: "From every house and from every window gunfire was directed against us, and we threw grenades. The inhabitants had Sten guns rifles and pistols. Our men stormed forward from house to house while throwing inside explosive devices. We thought either them or us. For us it was a question of life, if he will live, I will die..."

The fighting in Deir Yassin did not conclude until the next day 10 April 1948. One of the outcomes of the battle was the transport of around 700 village residents to neighboring villages.

How Many Were Killed?

Eyewitness claims of the number of Arab casualties in Deir Yassin following the difficult battle were not high, and most were the Arab fighters disguised as residents - some even disguised as women.

But, strangely, there was a simultaneous Jewish effort to cite a larger number. This, the author shows, emanated from both public relations and political motives.

Mordechai Raanan, the Irgun commander in Jerusalem said: "On that day I did not know, and I could not know how many Arabs were killed. No one had counted the corpses. People estimated that a hundred or 150 people were killed I told the journalists that 254 were killed so that they would publish a large number, and so that the Arabs would be shocked not only in the area of Jerusalem but all over the country, and this objective was achieved..."

Amos Kenan, a former LEHI commander who fought at Deir Yassin, said in a 1996 interview: "My comrades told me the matter of a massacre is a complete lie. There was no massacre. There was a lack of organization...

The Consequences

Shimon Monita, a Hagana agent, relates: "After Deir Yassin I returned to the Palmach and took part in attacks on Arab villages. Most of the inhabitants fled before we arrived, and the villages were captured without fighting or after a short battle. Not only peasants fled from their homes but also urban Arabs from Jerusalem and also from other areas. In that same month the Hagana took control over Haifa. The Intelligence Service reported that the fear of a fate similar to that of the inhabitants of Deir Yassin was one of the factors in breaking the Arab inhabitants of Haifa and causing them to flee."

Yisrael Bar, a senior Hagana commander wrote: "In the short term, Deir Yassin brought advantages and contributed to the flight of masses of Arabs."

Milstein soberly reflects: "Without the myth of Deir Yassin, it is doubtful whether the Jews would have succeeded in defeating the Arabs of Palestine by the time of the Declaration of Independence Without this defeat, it is doubtful whether the State of Israel would have succeeded in coping with the attacks of standing armies from outside and attacks of irregular armies from within."

Milstein, however, explains the other reason for the Jewish side's inflating the number killed, showing how the number was used cynically for political purposes by the left, which knowingly exaggerated and used the myth of the Deir Yssin "massacre" to discredit the two underground movements, Irgun and Lehi, which if was afraid would undermine its efforts to rule the new state of Israel unopposed. It managed to defame the two groups of brave underground fighters, their leaders including Irgun leader Menachem Begin, but thereby also encouraged the Arab use of the myth to villify the Zionist enterprise and seek revenge.

Monita said: "The dissidents [Revisionists] wanted to brag and scare the Arabs. The Hagana and Jewish Agency wanted to smear the dissidents and scare the Arabs. The Arabs wanted to smear the Jews. The British wanted to smear Jewish terrorists. They all latched on to a number invented by Ra'anan. We loaded 30 bodies onto the truck. That was the main group. There were about another 30; all told - about 60 bodies."

Arab Revenge For No Massacre

Four days after the Jewish occupation of Deir Yassin, there was a devastating Arab ambush on a convoy of buses in which Jewish doctors and nurses were traveling, en route to Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus, where they treated Arabs.

The convoy had to travel through the Arab Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, and this is precisely where the Arabs set their deadly trap.

Yitzhak Levy head of Jerusalem Intelligence wrote:

"The explosions and the gunfire against the convoy in Sheikh Jarrah were like the outbreak of a volcano. I understood that something dreadful had happened..."

There were unmet expectations that British forces stationed in Sheikh Jarrah would come to the rescue of the convoy. Then the Jerusalem based Hagana forces themselves were blocked by the British and failed to enter the picture and save the Jewish doctors and nurses from imminent destruction.

Milstein concludes the tragic episode: "At 1:00 PM the attackers approached the two busses, assaulted them and set them on fire. Some passengers had fled before then to the two armored cars and the ambulance...Remember Deir Yassin. Avenge Deir Yassin. The Arabs shouted."

Seventy four civilian Jews were murdered in Sheikh Jarrah that day.

The Last Word - and The Longterm Consequence

From Milstein's insightful conclusions:

"This book has tried to answer the question of how the Palestinian nation was created during the sixty plus years of Israel's existence.

"It was by means of the blood libel of Deir Yassin which the Jewish left perpetrated against the Jewish right. Five weeks before Israel proclaimed its independence, the leaders of the Yishuv and the leftist elite gave the Palestinian Arabs their seminal myth – the so-called Deir Yassin massacre, which has become the basis for and the symbol of the Nakba that overtook the Arabs of Palestine in 1948.

"In addition to being the first in a series of such actions attributed to Israel, the Deir Yassin massacre has additional importance – it was the direct cause of the flight of most of the Arabs who were living in the territories that became the State of Israel. The fact that instead of fighting, the Arabs ran away from Jaffa, Haifa and Tiberias, even before the State of Israel was established, asserting as they fled that their destiny would be that of Deir Yassin, weakens their claim that they were a nation before 1948."

Yonatan Silverman

The author is a professional translator from Hebrew to English. He is the author of For the World to See:The Life of Margaret Bourke White. He operates the online newsletter SARTABA.



Deir Yassin Massacre Myth Resurfaced

The persistent myth of a 1948 massacre of Arabs by Jews fuels what has become the new face of anti-Semitism

August 31, 2015

A stone thrown into a puddle will cause all sorts of light debris buried in the mud to surface. Jeremy Corbyn's quest to become the next Labour Party leader has created a similar effect in the puddle of British politics, allowing rotten debris like Holocaust denier Paul Eisen to surface.

It turns out that in 2013, Corbyn attended Eisner's annual anti-Israel event titled "Deir Yassin Remembered." Having surfaced from the sludge, it now needs to be addressed.

But before directly addressing this, I want to draw attention to an article by STV (Scottish Television) journalist Stephen Daisley, who did an outstanding job exposing the danger inherent in the popularity of Corbyn.

Corbyn, Daisly correctly reasoned, is "just a symptom and a symbol" of the anti-Zionist phenomenon that "has removed much of the need for classical anti-Semitism by recycling the old superstitions as a political critique of the State of Israel."

It is in the midst of such a phenomenon that people like Eisen can appear as compassionate humanists rather than what they really are. Otherwise, as Daisley had rightly asked, "why is Deir Yassin remembered, but not Safed or Hebron or the Hadassah convoy?"

Yet, even this comparison is misleading because Daisley, like most people, is still under the impression that there was a massacre of Palestinians by Israelis at Deir Yassin.

In the Palestinian annals, Deir Yassin – a small village west of Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Jewish militias Etzel and Lehi on April 9, 1948 – has become the symbol for the "Nakba," the "catastrophic" military defeat that in its wake spawned the Palestinian refugee problem. The fate of Deir Yassin has become their remembrance day, held on May 15, and it is of paramount importance to them.

At the risk of being liked to "Holocaust deniers," I find it necessary to highlight the work of military historian Uri Milstein, who spent 30 years investigating this affair that took place during Israel's War of Independence.

In his book The Birth of a Palestinian Nation (2012), Milstein's scathing criticism is directed not toward Palestinians, but rather toward Jews who, out of narrow political interests and internal rivalry, have perpetuated the massacre myth.

The battle of Deir Yassin itself came as a result of intelligence that Arab soldiers had infiltrated this otherwise peaceful village in order to block the road to Jerusalem. This led the two right-wing militias, Etzel and Lehi, to propose to the more left-wing Haganah (which later became the IDF) a joint operation against the village as part of a larger operation aimed at clearing the only road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

As everybody well understood, the fate of Jerusalem depended who controlled that road.

The plan was accepted by all factions, which is why several Haganah men armed with machine guns were placed on Mount Herzl facing the village to provide cover for the Etzel and Lehi assault troops.

During the battle, some 40 Jewish soldiers were wounded and six were killed. There were also 110 dead Palestinians, including women and children. Dreadful as the outcome was, civilians were killed during the heat of battle, and not after it.

In his book, Milstein willingly accepts Palestinian anthropologist Sharif Kanaana's definition of massacre, which is "intentional killing of captives – civilians, military men and soldiers – after they have surrendered..."

Kanaana, who also studied the Deir Yassin affair, seemed to concur with Milstein in that that the label "massacre" in regards to the battle of Deir Yassin was a "lie that originated in disputes between the Haganah on one hand and Etzel and Lehi on the other." The Palestinians for their part exploited the myth to their own advantage.

This is not to say that Israel's conduct in times of war is flawless. The War of Independence was ruthless, and both sides did whatever they could to gain the upper hand.

From this perspective, however, "Deir Yassin Remembered" as enthusiastically endorsed by Corbyn seems like a myth dredged up from the mud for the benefit of malevolent forces interested not in peace and justice, but in the vilification and destruct.



Reflections on Deir Yassin, the Nakba, and War Crimes

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 653, November 22, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Two recent books make an important contribution to the study of the Palestinian Nakba. Dr. Adel Manna explores the 1948 fall of the Galilee, based on memories of local Arab inhabitants; while Professor Eliezer Tauber debunks the myth of the Deir Yassin massacre, which became one of the Nakba's foundational events as early as 1948. These studies pave the road to reassessing the Palestinian tragedy within the conflict's past, present, and future wider context: Jewish localities were occupied by Arabs in the 1948 war, war crimes were perpetrated against Jews by Arabs, and present-day Palestinian schoolbooks continue to incite the perpetration of war crimes against Jews.

Two important Hebrew-language books were published recently: Deir Yassin: The End of the Myth by Eliezer Tauber (Kinneret, Zmora-Bitan, Dvir 2017), and Nakba and Survival: The Story of the Palestinians Who Remained in Haifa and the Galilee, 1948-1956 by Adel Manna (Van Leer Institute Press, Hakibbutz Hameuhad Publishing House 2017). The value of these books emanates from their comprehensive presentation of data and facts hitherto not discussed.

Prof. Tauber, of Bar-Ilan University, gathered all the available testimonies related to the Deir Yassin battle from all involved parties, including both villagers and members of the attacking Etzel and Lehi underground groups. On the basis of these testimonies he provides a minute-by-minute analysis of the battle in the village's various areas, indicating the death circumstances of each victim.

According to Tauber, Deir Yassin was the first case of house-to-house fighting in the 1948 war, as the defenders did not run away but fought from their houses until the end. The attackers broke into the houses by blowing up their doors, hurling hand grenades inside, and storming in while shooting. This resulted in many casualties, including non-combatants. Yet except for one case in which an attacker shot dead non-combatants who had surrendered and stepped out of their house, all the rest were killed during house-to-house fighting.

This conclusion is based on testimonies gathered from both surviving villagers and attackers. The (false) accusations of civilian massacres appeared after the battle had ended, when forces of the Jewish mainstream Hagana underground organization entered the village, saw the many corpses, including women and children, and concluded that they had been murdered by Etzel and Lehi fighters. Due to the bitter enmity between the Hagana and the two groups, the atrocity charges became widespread and hugely inflated.

Another group interested in inflating these charges was the Palestinian Arab leadership, seeking as it did to stir up public opinion in the neighboring Arab states so as to pressure their governments to join the war against the Jews after the end of the British Mandate in mid-May.

Dr. Adel Manna of the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem reviews the war events in the northern part of the country from the perspective of the Arab inhabitants, whose testimonies he gathered for years, embedding in the story the personal dimension of his own family. Through these testimonies, which constitute a very important source of information that has not yet found ample expression in the 1948 war historiography, Manna strives to decipher the policies of the victorious Israeli forces.

According to Manna, these policies involved terrorizing the population through executions as well as attempts at deportation, which failed in quite a few cases. One policy line that did succeed was the prevention of those who had fled their villages during the fighting and found shelter in neighboring villages and towns from returning to their homes. Their villages were destroyed, their lands were confiscated by the government, and Jews were made to settle there. (Manna also analyzes the history of the Arab population of Haifa and the Galilee in the years following the war until 1956, but that is not an integral part of the Nakba discussed in this article.)

The name Deir Yassin and the term Nakba ("catastrophe" in Arabic) are basic elements of the Palestinian narrative, which have in turn made their way into the Israeli narrative with an increasing degree of undisputed acceptance. In this context, the two books represent opposite positions. Tauber's study seeks to debunk the well-entrenched myth of the Deir Yassin massacre, while Manna strives to entrench the Nakba in the Hebrew narrative. Yet a reading of the two books side by side promotes deeper insights into the 1948 events.

The Deir Yassin episode was unique throughout the entire war, not because of the alleged massacre but because its pattern of house-to-house fighting did not recur on a similar scale. According to Arab claims, verified by most scholars, the mere mention of Deir Yassin brought about mass flight or hasty surrender of villagers elsewhere, which made house-to-house fighting largely unnecessary. Consequently, in no other place were women and children killed in similar numbers as in Deir Yassin.

Echoing the standard Arab narrative, Manna in contrast argues that massacres of Arabs by Jews had a role to play as the Jewish leadership had a clear policy of ethnic cleansing of Arabs. According to Manna, this policy was suspended when Nazareth and its vicinity in the Lower Galilee were occupied in the summer, only to be resumed at a later stage in other parts of the Galilee west of Nazareth. In his account, the Arab inhabitants resisted the new deportation attempts or returned to their villages after the soldiers had left the area. This explains why eastern Galilee was almost fully evacuated of its Arab population during the earlier stages of the war, while a considerable Arab population remained in the rest of Galilee that was occupied in late 1948.

In the eyes of Arabs, occupation, massacres, and deportation constitute the essence of the Nakba inflicted by the Jews, who are in turn urged to admit this colossal injustice and perhaps even take upon themselves the responsibility for its redress. Those who make this claim rarely mention that it was the Palestinian Arabs who waged a war of annihilation against their Jewish neighbors in the first place, in an attempt to prevent the creation of a Jewish state in accordance with the UN Partition Resolution of November 1947. Had this assault not taken place, there would have been no Nakba.

Manna fails to mention the legitimacy of the UN partition resolution as representing the will of the international community, nor does he criticize the war against the Jews as such. Rather, he restricts his criticism to the Arabs' failure to adequately prepare for the war they were bent on starting. His main criticism is thus reserved for the attacked party – the Jews – whom he claims perpetrated war crimes against the Arabs that cannot be justified under any circumstances, including the Arab culpability for starting the war.

Leaving aside Manna's factual and interpretational errors (notably the misrepresentation of Plan D as an expulsion program), he should have applied his criticism to all the war's events, as well as to subsequent violent outbursts between the two parties. A notable case in point is the fate of the 17 Jewish localities occupied by the Arabs in 1948, which is generally excluded from the Nakba narrative. Examining them one by one quickly reveals that all the alleged phenomena noted by Manna regarding Galilee were present there too, though on a limited scale due to their far smaller numbers.

The surviving inhabitants of Kfar Etzion, for example, were massacred after their surrender. Likewise, an injured soldier and two civilians accompanying him were executed after having been caught on their way out of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai following the collapse of local defenses. The other surviving defenders managed to flee ("evacuate themselves" in Israeli parlance).

A total deportation of the Jewish population took place in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City following its occupation. In addition, some of the occupied Jewish villages were evacuated before the battle started, mirroring the evacuation of Arab villages before the beginning of fighting.

There was a major difference between the two parties as far as expulsions were concerned. The Jews let tens of thousands of Arabs stay in their homes under Israeli rule. The Arabs, by contrast, did no such thing, destroying entire localities and expelling their populations to the last person. Not a single Jew was left in Gezer, Revadim, Ein Tzurim, Masuot Yitzhak, Mishmar Hayarden, or Nitzanim after their surrenders. The inhabitants of the first four villages were taken to a prisoner-of-war camp in Jordan. In Mishmar Hayarden and Nitzanim, too few inhabitants survived the battle to justify the construction of such camps. The survivors – men and women – were imprisoned in Syria and Egypt, respectively, and returned to Israel after the war alongside prisoners of war who had been held in Jordan. The Jewish presence in the areas occupied by the Arabs during the war was totally eradicated. All Jewish lands were taken over by the Arab authorities, leaving them completely Judenrein.

The prevention of war crimes should be a leading principle among all nations in times of war, rather than a tool for mutual recrimination. No pretext – self-defense, prevention of terrorism, liberation from occupation, fighting against imperialism, jihad, liquidation of racism and apartheid, class struggle, etc. – should be used to justify war crimes. This principle should apply to all – Jews, Arabs, and everyone else. Even those who are no friends of Israel or the Jews should adopt this principle and apply it to their own actions, side by side with their criticism of Israel on the same grounds. The murder of a Jewish family in the West Bank is a war crime even if it is claimed to be residing on "occupied" land. A suicide terror attack on a bus or a restaurant is a war crime regardless of its ideological justification. So are rocket attacks on population centers.

Allowing war crimes under one pretext or another is itself a war crime, especially if it is done by state-controlled media and/or an educational system, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) has done over the past two decades. In 2016, for example, the PA launched a new project of schoolbook publishing. Its new books accuse Israel of (largely nonexistent) war crimes while giving countenance to the perpetrating of such crimes by Palestinians. The following are three examples:

A poetical verse details what should be done with the 6 million "foreign" Jews living in Israel after the "liberation" and removal of the "usurper" (code name for Israel) from Palestine: "I swear! I shall sacrifice my blood in order to water the noble ones' land, and I shall remove the usurper from my country and shall exterminate the foreigners' scattered remnants" (Our Beautiful Language, Grade 3, Part 2, 2016, p. 64).

A Molotov-cocktail attack on a bus near the Psagot locality in the West Bank is described in one of the stories as a "barbecue party" (Arabic Language, Grade 9, Part 1, 2017, p. 61). In other words, the human beings perishing inside the burning bus are barbecued meat around which a party is taking place.

Dalal Mughrabi, who led the March 1978 terrorist attack on an Israeli civilian bus on the coastal highway, in which over 30 men, women, and children were murdered, is described in two PA schoolbooks as a heroine (Arabic Language, Grade 5, Part 1, 2017, p. 14; Social Studies, Grade 9, Part 1, 2017, p. 74).

Anyone expressing an aversion to war crimes should be expected to do so with regard to all parties to a conflict. Accusations of war crimes directed at one side only, without the slightest sign of self-criticism regarding one's own atrocities, indicate a fundamental lack of integrity. Moreover, alongside denunciation of past cases, one should emphatically act against incitement to future war crimes, such as those spelled out or implied in the new Palestinian schoolbooks. Anyone who fails to do so is actually encouraging war crimes.


The Deir Yassin Massacre Never Happened

MAY 30 2018

On April 9, 1948, when the first Arab-Israeli war was just beginning, the Irgun and Leḥi—two right-wing Jewish military groups fighting in coordination with the Haganah—attacked the Arab village of Deir Yassin, then held by Arab League forces. Shortly after the battle, rumors circulated among Arabs that Jewish fighters had slaughtered civilians, raped women, and committed other acts of sexual violence. Westerners and mainstream Zionist leaders soon accepted the story of the Deir Yassin massacre, which remains in history books to this day. But Eliezer Tauber, who has made an exhaustive study of the evidence, argues that it never happened:



Deir Yassin: There was no massacre

A founding myth of the Palestinian narrative was a fabrication that drove thousands of Arabs to panic and flee

MAY 28, 2018, 2:23 PM

In this 1948 photo from the UNRWA archive, Palestinian refugees stand outside their tent in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip. (photo credit: AP/UNRWA Photo Archives)

Deir Yassin is one of the founding myths of the Palestinian narrative, according to which Israelis murdered 254 people, committed rapes, and other gender-oriented atrocities in a peaceful 1948 Palestinian village. For the past five years, I have carried out an in-depth research into the affair, learned to know the village, who lived there and where, their names, and above all, the exact circumstances of death of each of the people killed there. The results were astounding, but clear. There was no massacre in Deir Yassin. No rapes. Lots of unfounded Palestinian propaganda.

On 9 April 1948, combined forces of the Jewish Etzel and Lehi underground organizations attacked Deir Yassin, an Arab village west of Jerusalem. It was four months after the eruption of hostilities between Jews and Arabs in Palestine, and about a month before the termination of the British mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel. The nature of this attack became one of the most controversial issues in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, serving the Palestinians as a proof for Israeli inhumanity. For almost seven decades, an anti-Israeli biased literature described it as an intentional and deliberate massacre of defenseless Arab villagers, accompanied by rapes and other atrocities.

What really happened in Deir Yassin? Contrary to what one could expect, I found that the testimonies of the Jewish attackers on the one hand, and the Arab survivors on the other hand, were surprisingly similar, at times almost identical. My methodology, therefore, was to integrate the testimonies of both parties involved, Jews and Arabs, into one story. I relied on a vast number of testimonies and records from 21 archives (including Israeli, Palestinian, British, American, UN and Red Cross), many of them yet unreleased to the public, and hundreds of other sources. My findings were basically two: no massacre took place in Deir Yassin, but on the other hand, the false rumors spread by the Palestinian leadership about a massacre, rapes and other atrocities, drove the Palestinian population to leave their homes and run away, becoming a major incentive for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem.

No Massacre

Deir Yassin was not the peaceful village many later claimed it to be, but a fortified village with scores of armed combatants. Its relations with the adjacent Jewish neighborhoods were troubled for decades and the Jews believed it to endanger the only road from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, thus constituting part of the Arab siege of Jewish Jerusalem. Therefore, although later denying it for political reasons, the Jewish main militia in 1948, the Haganah, sanctioned the attack and later took part in it by means of its striking force, the Palmach.

A ten-hour fierce battle, in the presence of a civilian population, ended in the victory of Etzel and Lehi. No massacre took place. When the battle ended, the killing stopped. "I believe that most of those who were killed were among the fighters and the women and children who helped the fighters," one of the Arab survivors was later to testify. Furthermore, the Arab villagers got an advance warning to evacuate the village, which 700 of them followed. The attackers took an additional 200 villagers prisoner and safely released them in Arab Jerusalem. Only 101 Arabs were killed, a quarter of them active combatants and most of the rest in combat conditions. The Jewish assailants also suffered casualties.

The Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem

For psychological warfare considerations, Etzel reported 200 Arabs killed, twice more than the actual number, enthusiastically adopted by the Palestinian leadership in Jerusalem, which increased it to 254 and added rapes and other gender-oriented atrocities. Hussein Khalidi, the senior Arab authority in 1948 Jerusalem, was of the opinion that, "We must make the most of this." As his assistant Hazim Nusayba reported in a 1998 interview, Khalidi said "we should give this the utmost propaganda possible because the Arab countries apparently are not interested in assisting us and we are facing a catastrophe....So we are forced to give a picture – not what is actually happening – but we had to exaggerate." Khalidi's distortion of the facts failed to prevent catastrophe. Instead, it helped created one.

"Dr. Khalidi was the one who caused the catastrophe," one of the Arab survivors ruled. "Instead of working in our favor, the propaganda worked in favor of the Jews. Whole villages and towns fled because of what they heard had happened in Deir Yassin." The Palestinian leadership intended to exploit the affair to lay pressure on the Arab states to send their armies to Palestine to fight the Jews. The plan boomeranged. Following the rule that women's honor comes before land, the moment the Palestinians heard about rapes they started to leave.

Israelis and Palestinians believe in two myths about the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. The Israelis claim that the Palestinians followed their leaders' exhortations to evacuate their homes temporarily and then return with the victorious Arab armies, but that is not what spurred Palestinians to leave. The Palestinians claim that the Israelis expelled them in 1948, but this was not what drove the departure. The true story of the 1948 Palestinian exodus was a flight mainly motivated by panic over a massacre that never happened.

Horror Propaganda

The horror propaganda about the affair has continued apace from 1948 to the present. The following is just a typical story, repeatedly cited, lately by the exiled Egyptian Muslim preacher, Yusuf Qaradawi: "As a climax of cruelty certain Jewish terrorists laid wagers on the sex of the unborn babies of expectant mothers. The wretched women were cruelly disemboweled alive, their wombs drawn out and searched for the evidence which would determine the winner."

However, Palestinians and Muslim preachers are not the only ones who promote the massacre narrative, Westerners do as well. "Deir Yassin Remembered" is an organization founded in the United States, interested in building a memorial to commemorate the affair in a location overlooking the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, apparently in order to draw an analogy between the two. The equation recurs in their writings, which argue that describing the massacre as "false, exaggerated, or in dispute" is tantamount to Holocaust revisionism. My research of the affair puts to rest any serious questioning of whether there was or was not a massacre at Deir Yassin. There was not.


Professor Eliezer Tauber, a former dean in Bar-Ilan University, Israel, is an expert on the emergence of Arab nationalism, the formation of the Arab states, and the early phases of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He has published extensively on these topics. Professor Tauber is now looking for a publisher for his newest book, "The Massacre That Never Was: The Myth of Deir Yassin and the Creation of the Palestinian Refugee Problem."


Professor Eliezer Tauber, a former dean in Bar-Ilan University, Israel, is an expert on the emergence of Arab nationalism, the formation of the Arab states, and the early phases of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He has published extensively on these topics.



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