Monday, March 05, 2018

You Know April 9 Is "Deir Yassin Day"?

I have blogged previously and profusely on Deir Yassin, the Arab village near Givat Shaul, in today's Har Nof neighborhood and specifically, the grounds of the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center.

Here. And here.

It was overrun by Irgun and Lechi forces, assisted by a Palmach unit who provided mortar fire and the Hagana command who supplied ammunition and medical services during the fighting, on Friday, April 9, 1948. This year it falls on a Monday.  There's now a film.  There's a commemorance site. Even a Facebook page.

And now, Shmuel Rosner has reviewed the new book that has appeared in Hebrew in his The Truth of Deir Yassin.

The author is Eliezer Tauber, an Israeli academic who specializes in the modern history of the Middle East

The book's cover:

I have met him.

As Rosner notes, Tauber has published

a book arguing that there was no massacre in Deir Yassin. A detailed account of a fateful day, minute by minute, hour by hour. A convincing account. 

What really happened in Deir Yassin? Tauber is not the first scholar to argue that the large-scale massacre story is a myth. Professor Yoav Gelber, in “Palestine 1948: War, Escape and the Emergence of the Palestinian Refugee Problem,” makes a similar claim. Still, Tauber was more thorough than all of his predecessors in looking into this specific day of carnage. The result is a gripping narrative. 

...He counts one clear case of unjustified shooting. An Arab family evacuated a house in surrender. An Irgun fighter opened fire while his commander was shouting at him, “What are you doing? Stop it!” This incident, Tauber believes, gave credence to later overblown stories of larger-scale massacre, rape, mutilation and barbarity.

And to the crux. As I have noted, the Arabs themselves created the myth.

...the myth was perpetrated not because of confusion. It was a deliberate attempt by the Palestinian leadership to force the Arab militaries of surrounding countries to intervene in the battle over Palestine. The leaders of the Palestinians sowed a wind and reaped a whirlwind. 

Rosner, though, makes this important point:

Professor Tauber believed that his story would be of great interest to American publishers. He contacted university presses in the United States, and their response left him stunned. A representative of an elite university wrote back: “While everyone agreed on the book’s many strengths, in the end the consensus was that the book would only inflame a debate where positions have hardened.” Another one wrote: “We could sell well to the right-wing community here but we would end up with a terrible reputation.” Apparently, a book questioning the Palestinian narrative is not a book that American universities feel comfortable publishing.

Amazingly, though, he has made it into the Wikipedia entry

Israeli researcher Eliezer Tauber writes that a total of 101 people were killed, 61 definitely in combat circumstances (including 24 armed fighters, with the remained being their family members who were with them); 18 for whom the cause of death could not be determined; about 10 whose deaths are in a "grey zone" whose charactization can be debated; and a further 11 being members of a single family who were gunned down by a single Irgun member.

More references:

Avi Woolf

Dr. Arnon Groiss

Shimon Cohen


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