A massacre allegation has been repeated over and over is that the Jews massacred Arabs in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948 as part of their efforts to drive the Palestinians from their homeland. Here is Menachem Begin's explanation of what happened in his book The Revolt. Menachem Begin was the leader of the Irgun which was the organization that fought in Deir Yassin.
The campaign for Jerusalem in 1948 involved the battle at Dir Yassin. How many lies have been published about this battle, from then until today, by Jews and non-Jews?
But the truth cannot be suppressed. On March 16th 1969, the Foreign Ministry of the State of Israel published a booklet, "Background Pages", dedicated to the capture of Dir Yassin. We quote the principal paragraphs:
The aim of the Arab onslaught was bluntly proclaimed by Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League, When the full-scale invasion of Israel's territory by the armies of the Arab States begain on 15 May, 1948, he did not hesitate to declare: "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."
It was no mere fantasy, no impetuously expressed but evanescent ambition. Azzam Pasha and the Arabs meant it. They have meant it ever since. The attack on Jerusalem, where a hundred and fifty thousand Jewish civilians were fighting for their lives, assumed many forms. Frontally four-fifths of the part of the city where the Jews lived was being battered by the artillery and armoured cars of the British-led Arab Legion of Jordan, and bitter street fighting was in progress. Units of the same force were attempting to cut the only highway linking Jerusalem with Tel Aviv and the outside world. It had cut the pipeline upon which the defenders depended for water. Palestinian Arab contingents, stiffenend by men of the regular Iraqi army, had seized vantage points overlooking the Jerusalem road, and from them were firing on trucks that tried to reach the beleaguered city with vital foodstuffs and supplies. Dir Yassin, like the strategic hill and village of Castel, was one of these vantage points.
In fact, the two villages were interconnected militarily, reinforcements passing from Dir Yassin to Castel during the fierce engagement for that hill. Hagana, the Jewish defence formation, after heavy uphill fighting in which it lost many men, took the strongly fortified height, Dir Yassin had been similarly fortified, its stone dwellings transformed into bastions. As its share in the battle for Jerusalem's approaches, the second - and smaller - Jewish paramilitary force, the Irgun Zvai Leumi... decided to assault Dir Yassin...
A small open truck accompanied them, fitted with a loud-speaker. In the early dawn light of 10th April 1948, it was driven close to the village entrance, and a warning was broadcast in Arabic to civilian, non-combatant inhabitants, to withdraw from the danger zone, as an attack was imminent. Everyone who left would be guaranteed safe passage... Some two hundred villagers did come out, and took shelter on the lower slopes of the hill on which Dir Yassin was perched. None of them, during or after the fighting, were hurt or molested in the slightest, and all were afterwards transported to the fringe of the Arab held quarter of East Jerusalem, and there released.
The actual batlle of Dir Yassin begain with a typical Arab subterfuge, which has been often rehearsed since. The Palestinian Arab and Iraqi garrison hung out white flags from houses nearest the village entrance. When the advance party of the Irgun unit advanced towards the entrance, it was met by a hail of fire. One of the first to be hit was its commander. Fierce house to house fighting followed. Midway, the Irgunists ran out of ammunition, but went on as best they could, with the weapons and equipment found in the first houses to fall into their hands. Most of the stone buildings were defended hotly, and were captured only after grenades were lobbed through their windows. Some of the garrison, as the battle neared its close, attempted to escape in women's dress. when approached, they opened fire. They were discovered to be wearing Iraqi military uniforms under the disguise.
When the fighting ended, the Irgun unit found that it had sustained forty one casualties, four of them fatal. In the captured houses they were horror-striken to find that, side by side with those combatant Palestinians and Iraqis, were the bodies of women and children. Either these luckless villagers had trusted the Arab soldiers to beat off the attack, or had been prevented from leaving the village with the others when the opportunity was given, before the fighting began, or perhaps had been afraid to go; whatever the reason, they were the innocent victims of a cruel war, and the responsibility for their deaths rests squarely upon the Arab soldiers, whose duty it was - under any rule of war - to evacuate them the moment that they turned Dir Yassin into a fortress, long before the battle for the village began. Total Arab casualties, including soldiers and civilians, were counted after the fighting at two hundred. The Irgun unit, with is limited medical supplies, did what it could to tend its own and the village's wounded, before taking them to hospitals in Jerusalem.
This is the statement of Yunes Ahmad Assad, a prominent inhabitant of Dir Yassin who survived the battle:
"The Jews never intended to hurt the population of the village, but were forced to do so, after they met enemy fire from the population which killed the Irgun commander."
It was published in the Jordanian daily " Al Urdun" of 9 April, 1955. Its only inaccuracy is in respect of the Irgun commander: Assad undoubtedly saw him fall in the attack, but he survived.
That the atttackers, even at the cost of losing the surprise effect, and, as is evident, at the risk of avoidable casualties, had warned the inhabitants before the attack, is admitted in a pamphlet issued by the Secretariat-General of the Arab League, entitled "Israel's Aggression." On page 10 we find this:
"On the night of 9 April, 1948, the peaceful Arab village of Dir Yassin, in the suburbs of Jerusalem, was surprised by loud-speakers calling upon the inhabitants of the village to evacuate it immediately."
The Palestinian leader Hussein Khalidi was one of the originators of the "massacre" allegation in 1948. It was Khalidi's claims about Jewish atrocities in Deir Yassin that were the basis for an article in the New York Times by its correspondent, Dana Schmidt (on April 12, 1948), claiming a massacre took place. The Times article has been widely reprinted and cited as "proof" of the massacre throughout the past 50 years.
The April 2,1998 issue of the Jerusalem Report describes a BBC televison program in which, Hazem Nusseibeh a member of one of Jerusalem's most prominent Arab families who presently lives in Amman described "an encounter at the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem's Old City with Deir Yassin survivors and Palestinian leaders, including Hussein Khalidi... 'I asked Dr. Khalidi how we should cover the story,' recalled Nusseibeh. 'He said, "We must make the most of this." So we wrote a press release stating that at Deir Yassin children were murdered, pregnant women were raped. All sorts of atrocities.'"
The BBC program then shows a recent interview with Abu Mahmud, who was a Deir Yassin resident in 1948, who says that the villagers protested against the atrocity claims: "'We said, "There was no rape." [Khalidi] said, "We have to say this, so the Arab armies will come to liberate Palestine from the Jews.'"
All Radwan an Arab who lived in Deir Yassin said:
I know when I speak that God is up there and God knows the truth and God will not forgive the liars. There were no rapes. It's all lies. There were no pregnant women who were slit open. It was propaganda that... Arabs put out so Arab armies would invade. They ended up expelling people from all of Palestine on the rumor of Deir Yassin.
For example, according to the Daily Telegraph, April 8, 1998, Ayish Zeidan, a resident of the village and a survivor of the fighting there, stated:
The Arab radio talked of women being killed and raped, but this is not true... I believe that most of those who were killed were among the fighters and the women and children who helped the fighters. The Arab leaders committed a big mistake. By exaggerating the atrocities they thought they would encourage people to fight back harder. Instead they created panic and people ran away.
Nusseibeh, who is a member of one of Jerusalem's most prominent Arab families and presently lives in Amman, told the BBC that the fabricated atrocity stories about Deir Yassin were "our biggest mistake," because "Palestinians fled in terror" and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims.
Menachem Begin, in his book The Revolt confirms this. He wrote:
The enemy propaganda was designed to besmirch our name. In the result it helped us. Panic overwhelmed the Arabs of Eretz Israel. Kolonia village, which had previously repulsed every attack of the Haganah, was evacuated overnight and fell without furhter fighting. Beit Iksa was also evacuated. These tow places overlooked the main road; and their fall, together with the capture of Kastel b y the Haganah, amde it possible to keep open the road to Jerusalem. In the rest of the country, too, the Arabs began to flee in terror, even before they clashed with Jewish forces. Not what happened in Dir Yassin, but what was invented about Dir Yassin, helped to carve the way to our decisive victories on the battlefield.
Just four days after the reports from Deir Yassin were published, an Arab force ambushed 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. More information about Deir Yassin can be found at http://www.yahoodi.com/peace/deiryassin.html and at http://www.zoa.org/pubs/DeirYassin.htm.