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Har Nof. Deir Yassin. Which Of These Things Is Not Like The Other?

“Anyone want to place bets on how long it will be before someone mentions Deir Yassin?” said my friend Jenni, as news of the Har Nof Massacre flooded in.

Too bad I decided that was a rhetorical question—if I’d ventured a guess I might now be a rich woman. As a matter of fact, only hours after the massacre in which four rabbis were hacked to death while praying the silent Amida, still wrapped in their talleisim and tfilin, Ann McCoy, a design lecturer at the Yale School of Drama and the Yale Repertory Theatre played the Deir Yassin card.

Commenting on a Huffington Post report of the massacre, McCoy wrote:

[T]he synagogue was built on the ruins of the Deir Yassin village where the entire village of Palestinians was massacred by the Israelis violence breeds violence….ethnic cleansing produces long held resentments…

Ann McCoy

So what’s she smoking? Here’s the deal:

Once upon a time, Har Nof was Deir Yassin, an Arab village in pre-state Israel, which long before it was Deir Yassin was plain old Jewish Jerusalem. Legend has it that a terrible massacre was perpetrated in Deir Yassin by Jewish soldiers in 1948 in which Arab men, women, and children were butchered and the women, raped. Deir Yassin has always been held up as the standard of proof that both sides bear onus for the ongoing conflict and that both sides are capable of evil, of carnage.

In fact, what is said to have happened in Deir Yassin is thought to be worse than anything the Arabs have ever done to the Jews throughout the entire history of the long-lasting, strife-filled Middle East saga. Worse than Tarpat. Worse than the Farhud.

Now personally, I never believed the stories about Deir Yassin. Not because Jews never do bad things, but because it is highly unusual for Jews to butcher humans and rape women. These are not crimes typically associated with Jewish men.

Muslims, on the other hand, are associated with such crimes. You could go back to the Muslim Conquest. But you don’t need to go back that far to find proof for this assertion. We know about the Yazidis, the Syrians, the Christian women in Egypt, Malala Yousafzai, the Nigerian girls abducted by the Boko Haram, ISIS, Hamas: it’s a contemporary problem. These things happen every day. These are the things that some/many Muslims do.syrian1

And the other thing that some Muslims do is claim that Jews do the things that they, Muslims do. They make unsupported, unsubstantiated claims that Jews engage in the sort of behavior associated with Arabs, with Muslims. They lie.


The leftist liberals, so puffed up with their moral narcissism, repeat these lies. If you press them for sources, they have none. If you tell them they have swallowed lies, they’ll say, “Oh no. I don’t think so.”

They prefer to believe nasty things about Jews. Even when they themselves are Jews, as is often the case.

But getting back to Deir Yassin and the claim that two Arabs walked into a shul in a Haredi neighborhood and chopped up men at prayers with meat cleavers because of Deir Yassin?

No. It just doesn’t wash. It’s just Arab apologists trying to remake Jews into Muslim criminals only Jewish.

horrific arab cartoon about synagogue murders mayayakub_2014-Nov-18

It is time to bust that Deir Yassin myth wide open and expose it to the light of day. Let’s begin with examining why Deir Yassin was chosen for a military action:

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. 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. But because of Deir Yassin’s strategic location, it was almost inevitable that it, too, would become a battle site.  .  .

Some historians later expressed surprise at the choice of Deir Yassin as a target, in view of what they regarded as the village’s peaceful history.  In fact, Deir Yassin served as a center of weapons trafficking during the violent Palestinian Arab outbreaks in 1920; Deir Yassin residents had carried out violent attacks on the Jews of Givat Shaul in October 1928; and during the August 1929 Arab riots throughout Palestine, the villagers of Deir Yassin had again assaulted their Jewish neighbors in Givat Shaul as well as Jews in the Beit Hakerem neighborhood and the Montefiore Quarter.   .  .

During the week prior to the IZL-Lehi action against Deir Yassin, there was a spate of shooting attacks from the village aimed at Jewish targets in the area.

So was there really a massacre in Deir Yassin?

Surprisingly, after the “massacre,” the Irgun escorted a representative of the Red Cross through the town and held a press conference. The New York Times’ subsequent description of the battle was essentially the same as Begin’s. The Times said more than 200 Arabs were killed, 40 captured and 70 women and children were released. No hint of a massacre appeared in the report.  .  . .

In fact, the attackers left open an escape corridor from the village and more than 200 residents left unharmed. For example, at 9:30 A.M., about five hours after the fighting started, the Lehi evacuated 40 old men, women and children on trucks and took them to a base in Sheik Bader.  .   .

At least some of the women who were killed became targets because of men who tried to disguise themselves as women. The Irgun commander reported, for example, that the attackers “found men dressed as women and therefore they began to shoot at women who did not hasten to go down to the place designated for gathering the prisoners.”

After the Deir Yassin “massacre.”

Okay, but did Jewish soldiers rape Arab women during the battle in Deir Yassin?

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.” 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.” 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[s]: ‘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.'” 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.”

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 to leave 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.

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 of those 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.

So, what about the Israelis who say that the massacre in Deir Yassin really happened? How do you explain that away?

Gad Nahshon has summarized some of the key points of Israeli military historian Dr. Uri Milstein’s research on the subject here:

What is the origin of this myth? Milstein believed that the Israeli left in 1948 or Mapai, the party of Ben-Gurion in order to smear its ‘right’ camp, or the ‘Irgun’ and its commander Menachem Begin, used Dir Yassin, the battle. The party inflated the story and distorted the truth to build a weapon against the Right opposition to Mapai, the ruling Labor party. The person who invented the massacre is Israel’s famous military historian, Col. (Ret.) Meir Pail, today, a defender of Mapai’s history or military history. Also, a guardian angel of the palmach’s legacy, Dr. Pail, a military scholar has always argued that the Irgun’s leaders and fighters should express regrets for this massacre and ask Israel for forgiveness. Dr. Pail developed the myth [in the years following the battle in Deir Yassin].

Still not convinced? Watch this interview with Hazem Nusseibeh, editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service in 1948.

Deir Yassin a massacre? Not on your life. It’s just a lie, oft-repeated.

The Har Nof Massacre, on the other hand, was a POGROM.

About the author

Picture of Varda Epstein

Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 36 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between raising her 12 children and writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids a Guidestar gold medal charity.
Picture of Varda Epstein

Varda Epstein

A third-generation-born Pittsburgher on her mother’s mother’s side, Varda moved to Israel 36 years ago and is a crazy political animal who spams people with right wing political articles on Facebook in between raising her 12 children and writing about education as the communications writer at Kars for Kids a Guidestar gold medal charity.
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