Dear Mr. Ostroff
Further to this issue, I am sending you the attached article by Israel Shamir, a Russian-Israeli writer for your elucidation.
The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily
Remembering Deir Yassin
Israel Shamir, Arab News
On a beautiful spring day, when the skies of the Holy Land are a tender blue and the grass is a verdant green, air-conditioned
buses ferry tourists from the City of the Plain to the City in the Mountains. A small distance past the halfway point, just
beyond the reconstructed Ottoman inn of Bab Al-Wad, the Gate of the Valley, the bus drives past the red-painted skeletons
of armored vehicles. This is where the tour guides make their routine pitch: "These vehicles are in memory of the heroic
break-through of Jews relieving the blockade of Jerusalem imposed by the aggression of nine Arab states". The number
of Arab states varies with the mood of the guides and how they size up their audience.
The battle for the road to Jerusalem was a high point of the 1948 civil war in Palestine, and it ended with the Zionist
Je ws of the Plain capturing the prosperous West End of Jerusalem with the white stone mansions of the Arab nobles and the
German, Greek and Armenian merchants. In the course of these battles they also subdued the neutral, non-Zionist Jewish neighborhoods.
Zionists expelled the Gentiles in a massive sweep of ethnic cleansing and contained the local Jews in the ghetto. In order
to achieve this feat, on their way to the city they razed Palestinian villages to the ground.
The rusted junk is barely an adequate backdrop for the standard Israeli narration, and it would not qualify for a realistic
film production. It is a staged scene that lacks the authentic look that movie directors require. The story of the blockade
and aggression is a theater play, not a cinema script. It is an encore performance for tourist indoctrination on the non-stop
trip to the Wailing Wall and the Holocaust Museum.
The war for this road was over in April 1948, weeks before Israel declared its in dependence on May 15, before the hapless
rag-tag units of Arab neighbors entered Palestine and saved what remained of the native population. As T.S. Elliot observed,
April is the cruellest month. And so it was that fateful April when the Palestinians were doomed to start a journey to five
decades of exile. Its apotheosis was reached near the entrance to Jerusalem, where the Sacharov gardens lead to a cemetery,
to a lunatic asylum and to Deir Yassin.
Death has many names. The Czechs call it Lidice, the French word is Oradur, in Vietnamese they use My Lai, for every Palestinian
it is Deir Yassin. On the night of April 9, 1948, the Jewish terrorist groups Etzel and Lehi attacked the peaceful village
and massacred its men, women and children. I do not want to repeat the gory tale of sliced off ears, gutted bellies, raped
women, torched men, bodies dumped in stone quarries or the triumphal parade of the murderers. Existentially, all massacres
are alike, from Babi Yar to Cha in Saw Gang to Deir Yassin. Yet, the Deir Yassin massacre is special for three reasons.
One: It is well documented and witnessed. Other Jewish fighters from the Hagana and Palmach, Jewish Scouts, Red Cross
representatives and the British police of Jerusalem left complete records of the event.
Two: The horror of the massacre triggered the mass flight from nearby Palestinian villages and gave the Jews full control
of the western approaches to Jerusalem.
Three: The careers of the murderers. The commanders of the Etzel and Lehi gangs, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, eventually
became Israeli prime ministers. None of them expressed any remorse, and Begin lived the last days of his life in the house
with a panoramic view of Deir Yassin. No Nuremberg judges, no vengeance, no penitence, just a path of roses all the way to
a Nobel Peace Prize. Begin was proud of the operation, and in his letter to the killers he congratulated them for fulfilling
their national duty. "You are creators of Israel's history", he wrote. Yitzhak Shamir was also pleased that it helped
to achieve his dream: To expel the nochrim (non-Jews) from the Jewish state.
But there is yet another reason why this event was historically significant. Deir Yassin demonstrated the full scope of
Zionist tactics. After the mass murder became known, the Jewish leadership blamed ... the Arabs. David Ben Gurion, the first
prime minister of Israel, announced that the Arab rogue gangs had perpetrated it. When this version collapsed, the Jewish
leaders began the damage-control procedures. His public relations techniques remain a source of pride for the good-hearted
pro-Zionist "liberals" abroad.
"What a horrible, dreadful story", a humanist Jew told me when I drove him by the remaining houses of Deir Yassin,
then added "But Ben Gurion condemned the terrorists, and they were duly punished".
"Yes", I responded. "They were duly punished and promoted to the highest government posts."
Just three days after the massacre, the terrorist gangs were incorporated into the emerging Israeli Army, the commanders
received high positions, and a general amnesty forgave their crimes. The same pattern, an initial denial followed by apologies
and a final act of clemency and promotion, was applied after the first historically verifiable atrocity committed by Prime
Minister Sharon. It was at the Palestinian village of Qibya, where Sharon's unit dynamited houses with their inhabitants and
massacred some sixty men, women and children.
For Sharon, it was the usual path of roses all the way to the post of prime minister. It sometimes appears that to become
the prime minister of Israel it helps to have a massacre to your name.
The same pattern was repeated after the massacre of Kafr Kasem, where Israeli troops lined up the local peasants and machine-gunned
them down. When the denial failed, and a Communist MPs disclosed the gory details, the perpetrators were court-martialed and
sentenced to long prison terms. They were out before the end of the year, while the commander of the murderers became the
head of Israel Bonds.
Now, with the passing of fifty years, the Jewish establishment has decided to, once again, take a stab at Deir Yassin
revisionism. The Zionist Organization of America pioneered the art of denying history and published, at the expense of American
taxpayer, a booklet called Deir Yassin: History of a Lie. The ZOA revisionists have utilized all the methods of their adversaries,
the "Holocaust deniers": They discount the eye-witness accounts of the survivors, the Red Cross, the British police,
Jewish Scouts and other Jewish observers who were present at the scene of massacre. They discount even Ben Gurion's apology,
since after all, the commanders of these gangs became in turn prime ministers of the Jewish state. For the ZOA, only the testimony
of the murderers has any validity. That is, if the murderers are Jews.
Still, there are just people, and there is an organization called Deir Yassin Remembered, which fights all attempts to
erase the memory. They publish books, organize meetings, and they are working on a project to build a memorial at the scene
of the massacre, so the innocent victims will have this last comfort, their names and the memory saved forever. It will have
to do, until the surviving sons of Deir Yassin and neighboring villages return from their refugee camps to the land of their
- Israel Shamir is a leading Russian-Israeli intellectual, writer, translator and journalist.
Copyright:Arab News © 2003 All rights reserved. Site designed by: arabix and powered by Eima IT
Response by Maurice Ostroff to Minister Kasrils
June 13, 2008
Dear Mr. Kasrils,
Thank you for your email and for taking the trouble to send me the interesting article "Remembering Deir Yassin"
by Israel Shamir. If I had read this article without the benefit of being exposed to alternative credible information, I would
certainly be as antagonistic to Israel as you are.
And we do have the benefit of additional sources of information.
On the one hand we have the evidence I sent you of an interview with the BBC, in which Hazem Nusseibeh, editor of the
Palestine Broadcasting Service's news in 1948, admitted that prominent Arab leader, Hussein Khalidi, had fabricated the claims
of atrocities at Dir Yassin in order to provoke Arab countries to invade the nascent Jewish state.
I also referred to a 1948 Dir Yassin resident Abu Mahmud, who said the villagers themselves denied the atrocity claims
at the time. They told Khalidi there was no rape but he said, "We have to say this, so the Arab armies will come to liberate
Palestine from the Jews."
These statements are verifiable on a video clip available at http://deir-yassin.tripod.com
On the other hand we have the article by Israel Shamir in which he says that he does not wish to repeat gory details,
but then immediately proceeds to do exactly that, alleging horrifying allegations of "sliced off ears, gutted bellies,
raped women, torched men, bodies dumped in stone quarries and the triumphal parade of the murderers".
How do we weigh the contradictory evidence of Shamir who was 10 months old at the time of Deir Yassin against that of
the persons who were there at the time and who subsequently told their stories to the BBC? Certainly, no one can responsibly
present Shamir's version without at the very least drawing attention to the existence of the plausible contradictory evidence.
There is also good reason to be cautious in evaluating Shamir's story. In an article "The Spider Web" on his
web site, Shamir exhibits a tendency to depict fanciful theories as reality. He speaks of a conspiratorial 'Judaic' link,
possibly a False Flag operation, connecting the wave of terrorist acts in Russia (the school, the planes, the Underground
explosions) and in Beer Sheba, Israel.
In "The Marxists and the Lobby - Part II" Shamir writes that the blindness of Winston Churchill turned him into
a Zionists' dupe and caused him to push for the WWII with its millions of victims.
In "A Discussion of Anti-Semitism" Shamir equates the Allied armies in WW2 with the Nazis. He writes "ALL
participants in WWII were homicidal racists, in modern terms. While the German Nazis killed a lot of Slavs, Jews, Gypsies,
homosexuals and the mentally deranged, the democratic US deported thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent or locked
them up for years in concentration camps; the Soviets deported ethnic Germans, Chechens and Crimean Tatars and destroyed their
centuries-old villages and homes. Britain invented concentration camps in the Boer War when Hamsun was a child, and deported
the ethnic Germans from British Palestine".
Even pro-Palestinian activists Ali Hasan co-founder of Electronic Intifada and Hussein Yusuf Kamal Ibis consider Shamir's
anti-Israel writings to be so extreme that it damages the Palestinian cause. In an article "Serious Concerns About Israel
Shamir", they described an Easter message from Shamir as containing "the most odious characterizations of Jews as
"Christ killers, the staple of classic European Christian anti-Semitism".
They refer to a speech by Shamir at Tufts University in which he was quoted as saying: "Palestinians are perfect
mammals; their life is deeply rooted in the ground...Israeli people represent a virus form of a human being because they can
As mentioned in a previous letter, you and I share an appreciation of Bertrand Russell, and in evaluating the available
information, his advice is highly relevant. He wrote, "If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts,
he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand,
he is offered something, which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest
Thank you again for your email. I very much appreciate your taking the time to respond to my letter.
May I hope that you will reconsider some of your opinions in the light of the above data?