Thursday, February 18, 2010

Deir Yassin Defined and Defended

I found a letter on Deir Yassin in the Times Literary Supplement and I willadd afterwards:

Deir Yassin

Sir, – Your issue of January 22 carries a review by Francis Robinson of Eugene Rogan’s The Arabs: A history which contains two errors of historical fact relating to Israel that require correction.

1. Regarding Dayr Yasin (Deir Yassin), Robinson refers to “the unprovoked attack”. The fact is that Deir Yassin was a militarized village and the base for irregular Muslim forces that were firing on Jewish West Jerusalem and were also about to mortar the Jewish supply line in the Battle of Jerusalem.

2. Robinson baldly states that the attack on Deir Yassin “left 250 villagers dead”. This is simply not true. Research by Arab Palestinian scholars published in 1987 gives a list of 107 villagers killed and twelve wounded, commenting that they were “absolutely convinced . . . that the number of those killed does not exceed 120 . . . . Our list was compiled on the basis of the testimony of Deir Yassin natives. We have devoted great effort to checking it and making certain every name is accurate” (Sharif Kanaana and Nihad Zaytawi, Deir Yassin, Monograph 4: Destroyed Palestinian Villages Documentation Project – Bir Zeit University, 1987).

One survivor who had himself fought against the Jews at Deir Yassin counted ninety-three villagers killed, while another leader related that on the following day the leaders of the clans met in Jerusalem and counted 116 names of those who had not yet been found alive. These data come from Palestinian, not Israeli sources, and are readily available on the internet and elsewhere.

Center for Research on Antisemitism, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802.

Now, here is some more material (it seems to break up towards the bottom) from the ZOA study.


and since we're on TLS, here's a letter of mine that didn't get published, on another subject:

In his review of P. G. Maxwell-Stuart's "SATAN: A biography" (TLS, 21 Jan 2010), James Sharpe writes that in order to explain evil's presence as a challenge to the one God, Christianity created "the devil. And from the high Middle Ages (at the latest) the devil, or Satan, was a dominant figure in European Christian culture." Satan, however, predates Christianity.

In Zechariah 3:1, he is rebuked by God for seeking to challenge the Jewish people's claim to Jerusalem. Satan is testing Job in the first chapter of that book and in I Chronicles 21, he is enticing David to conduct a census despite its prohibition. The earlier Hebraic concept of an evil force then is not one who himself is evil but one whose task is to test, to provocatively confront man's belief and actions. It would be fair to assume that Judaism was more than challenged by Christianity which leaves the theological question of what is evil.