Thursday, May 13, 2010

Israel / Palestine/ Deir Yassin Massacre

Photo: "A Palestinian survivor reacts 07 April 2005 during a memorial ceremony at the original site of her former village of Deir Yassin in Jerusalem." (Atta Hussein/AFP/Getty Images)

A Massacre of Arabs Masked by a State of National Amnesia
By Catrina Stewart
The Independent, May 10, 2010
"[...] Sixty-two years on, what really happened at Deir Yassin on 9 April remains obscured by lies, exaggerations and contradictions. Now Ha'aretz, a liberal Israeli newspaper, is seeking to crack open the mystery by petitioning Israel's High Court of Justice to release written and photographic evidence buried deep in military archives. Palestinian survivors of Deir Yassin, a village of around 400 inhabitants, claim the Jews committed a wholesale massacre there, spurring Palestinians to flee in the thousands, and undermining the long-held Israeli narrative that they left of their own accord. Israel's opposing version contends that Deir Yassin was the site of a pitched battle after Jewish forces faced unexpectedly strong resistance from the villagers. All of the casualties, it is argued, died in combat. In 2006, an Israeli arts student, Neta Shoshani, applied for access to the Deir Yassin archives for a university project, believing a 50-year embargo on the secret documents had expired eight years previously. She was granted limited access to the material, but was informed that there was an extended ban on the more sensitive documents. ... The current embargo runs until 2012. Defending its right to keep the documents under wraps, the Israeli state has argued that their publication would tarnish the country's image abroad and inflame Arab-Israeli tensions.
Ha'aretz and Ms. Shoshani have countered that the public have a right to know and confront their past. Judges, who have viewed all the archived evidence held by the Israeli state on Deir Yassin, have yet to make a decision on what, if anything, to release. Among the documents believed to be in the state's possession is a damning report written by Meir Pa'il, a Jewish officer who condemned his compatriots for bloodthirsty and shameful conduct on that day. Equally incriminating are the many photographs that survive. 'The photos clearly show there was a massacre,' says Daniel McGowan, a US retired professor who works with Deir Yassin Remembered. 'Those photos show [villagers] lined up against a quarry wall and shot.' [...]"

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