A Circle of Violence: Deir Yassin to Har Nof

By James M. WallSaif-funeral-e1416402220892-635x357

Early Tuesday, November 18, two young Palestinians broke into a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of West Jerusalem’s Har Nof.

Armed with a gun, knives and axes, the assailants killed three rabbis and a fourth worshipper.

The New York Times reported that in the gun battle that ensued, one Israeli policeman and the two Palestinians intruders were killed.

In its coverage of the Har Nof killings, the Washington Post put “Americans” in its headline, leaving the impression they were tourists. They were not. They were Orthodox rabbis with dual citizenship, American and Israeli.

Few media outlets have taken note of the glaring fact that a circle of violence connects Har Nof to Deir Yassin, the Palestinian village destroyed before the formation of the modern state of Israel by the terrorist Jewish group, the Irgun, on April 9, 1948.

Deir Yassin was part of the “ethnic cleansing” strategy of the Zionist military. It was this strategy that launched the Nakba. This strategy is well-documented in Jewish scholar Ilan Pappe’s book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Should the media have acknowledged the circle of violence in the Deir Yassin-Har Nof connection?  If the murder of six contemporary Americans occurred outside Washington’s Ford Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was killed, would the media ignore Lincoln’s assassination?  I don’t think so. 

Meanwhile, back to 2014 in the world according to Israel and the Western media, this is what happened: 

“On Tuesday night Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian leaders of inciting the violence and committing “blood libel” by suggesting that Jews were responsible for the death this week of a Palestinian bus driver who Israeli police say committed suicide by hanging.”

The Prime Minister has also reactivated a former Israel government policy of destroying the East Jerusalem homes of the two men responsible for the synagogue killings and the homes of other Palestinians linked to other recent attacks.

This is, of course collective punishment, a violation of international moral and legal standards, and what “Human Rights Watch says could be war crimes”.

Samia Nasir Khoury, a revered Palestinian leader and activist, and the author of the highly876530520Reflections_COVER_FINAL_WEB praised memoir, Reflections from Palestine – A Journey of Hopespoke for many Palestinians in her posting on November 18, in which she expresses sadness over the horrendous Har Nof attack, even as she puts it in its historic context by linking it to another act of violence.

“Ironically, Har Nof where the events of today took place is originally a Palestinian suburb adjacent to Deir Yassin where the infamous massacre of the Palestinians took place on April 9, 1948. That was the spark that terrorized the Palestinian residents of West Jerusalem that led to their exodus.

Yes indeed, it is brutal and completely unacceptable to attack worshipers in their place of worship, as was the attack of settler doctor, Baruch Goldstein, on Muslim worshipers during the month of Ramadan at the Hebron Mosque in February 1994. Twenty-nine Palestinian were killed and 125 wounded at the time.”

If the international media were interested in the circle of violence between Deir Yassin in 1948 and Har Nof in 2014, they could turn to recent writings by Dina Elmuti in The Electronic Intifada.  

One of her postings appeared April 7, of this year, several months before Israel’s summer invasion of Gaza and the killings at Har Nof this week.  She begins with her grandmother’s personal story:

(The picture on the right shows Dina’s grandmother as a young girl. She is on the left, with her older sister on the right.)  Electronic Intifada

“My grandmother is a survivor of the Deir Yassin massacre. Sixty-six years later, her scars still bear witness.

Deir Yassin is a name permanently inscribed in the Palestinian narrative. Friday, 9 April 1948 is a date forever engraved with infamy. The Deir Yassin massacre is a turning point in Palestinian history, remaining a symbol of dispossession, ongoing erasure and humanity’s capacity for cruelty.

When I was in Palestine recently, my grandmother pointed to the stone home in Deir Yassin where she was born 76 years ago — and my eyes caught a glimpse of a pale scar on her arm. The nostalgia in her voice was so strong, I could almost see the barbaric scenes of terror as if they were being projected from a movie reel onto a screen in front of us.

Today, a psychiatric hospital occupies the center of Deir Yassin village, restricting access to its fortified stone homes standing out defiantly against the grid of generic Israeli settlement buildings constructed on stolen land. The village was once home to around 750 people.

Located outside Jerusalem and a few hundred meters to the west of the Jewish-only settlement of Givat Shaul, it was known for its peaceful reputation and primary industry of stone quarrying.

By sunrise on 9 April, the Zionist terrorist organizations known as the Irgun and Stern Gang, had raided the village and stormed homes, slaughtering as many people as possible. The victims included unarmed elderly men, pregnant women and children.

The grandmother of Dina Elmuti was one of the girls who escaped the massacre  of Deir Yassin and made her way to East Jerusalem where she was rescued by Hind Al-Hussein, a member of a prominent Jerusalem family.

138pounds_Hind_Al-HusseiniIt was Hussein (as a young woman at left) who discovered 53 orphans from Deir Yassin. An account originally written by Daniel A. McGowan for the American Middle East for Understanding (AMEU)’s Link publication, describes Hussein’s initial encounter with the orphans:

“Fifty-three orphaned children were literally dumped along the wall of the Old City, where they were found by Miss Hind Husseini and brought behind the American Colony Hotel to her home, which was to become the Dar El-Tifl El-Arabi orphanage.”

A segment of McGowan’s Link article is also posted on Deir Yassin Remembered, the website of the organization McGowan established to continue his desire to educate both non-Palestinians and Palestinians on this significant event.  Deir Yassin Remembered begins:

“Early in the morning of April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun (headed by Menachem Begin) and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents. The village lay outside of the area to be assigned by the United Nations to the Jewish State; it had a peaceful reputation. But it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Deir Yassin was slated for occupation under [Israel’s] Plan Dalet and the mainstream Jewish defense force, the Haganah, authorized the irregular terrorist forces of the Irgun and the Stern Gang to perform the takeover.”

In 2011, Miral, a motion picture based on the orphans who were raised under the care of  Hind Al-Hussein, received world-wide distribution. I wrote about it for Wallwritings, a posting that may be read here.

A preview clip of the film is shown below. Miral is a fictional representation of one of the orphans.  Hind Al-Hussein is realistically portrayed as the head of the orphanage and the school she formed.

The film contains an interesting tension between Miral, who wants to take action against the occupation, and Hussein, who is placing her faith in education.

At one point in the film, Hussein tells a class of girls that what is happening “is what they call the intifada”. Miral tells a classmate, “it means, stand up straight”. She got that right.

In the picture at top, Jerusalem’s chief rabbi Shlomo Amar shakes hands with an imam as leaders from the Christian and Muslim communities gathered outside Kehilat Yaakov Synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. (photo credit: From the Times of Israel by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90).

About wallwritings

James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Jim launched this new personal blog April 24, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years.
This entry was posted in Israel, Media, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Movies, Netanyahu, Palestinians, Religious Faith. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Circle of Violence: Deir Yassin to Har Nof

  1. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    All decent people condemn violence and murder. What makes it poisonous is the dramatic biased difference in our media, when covering the vastly more deadly and murderous massacres and pogroms committed by Israel .
    Thank you, Jim, for highlighting the cycle of violence and the symbolism in this case, with American-Zionist terrorist settler Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 Muslim worshippers and wounded dozens more, and launched this style of cold-blooded murder for the first time in the Holy Land. Palestinian suicide bombings came in the aftermath of Goldstein.
    The relevance to the site of Deir Yassin is another grave reminder of the heinous massacre of villagers in the Palestinian town next to Jerusalem, which terrorized Palestinians and was a leading landmark in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
    Israeli occupation of Palestine, just like the Nazi occupation of Poland, or France, in World War II, will continue to be the primary reason for violence, as well as, resistance. Israel can end it all today, if it votes for leaders who seek justice and peace, rather than for holding on to stolen and usurped lands of the Palestinian Native people of the Holy Land.

  2. Reblogged this on Dawn Morais and commented:
    With thanks to James Wall. This is so very helpful to processing what we read in the media about the Israeli Occupation of Palestine and the resistance to it.It provides context and challenges us to question how the news is presented, what is presented and what is not. It invites us to probe the decisions made by corporate media about what and how they report what is going on in our troubled world.

  3. Basim Ismail says:

    Excellent and accurate article Jim.
    Well done. My Mom is an existing survivor of
    the Deir Yassin massacre and she has told
    the story exactly as u have. It is good u left out
    the gruesome details of the massacre. They were
    beyond belief!

  4. fred says:

    Israel has fostered rage by its ethnic cleansing of non Jews and its house demolitions and cruel treatment of the population it completely controls. This rage against dehumanization is bound to come out in attacks from time to time against them. The Israelis know this of course, but won’t stop the cruelty of ethnic cleansing because they won’t stop their practices of land theft, apartheid settlements and roads, and house demolitions based on religion. Israel wants all of Palestine for themselves in a “pure” Jewish state. This is obviously a fascist mindset that we are dealing with.

  5. Harris Fawell says:

    Jim: A great story! Thanks for relating it. Harris Fawell

  6. Samia Khoury says:

    Thank you Jim, and I feel humbled for being quoted in your article. You have a fantastic way of linking so much information together espcially in veiw of the short memory that the media has.

  7. Sami Joseph says:

    The essay is as admirable as the above comments. In my case, I experienced firsthand the horror of Al Nakba when the Zionists occupied the Notre Dame in Jerusalem where my family were invited to spend the day on 15 May 1948. The Zionists who occupied the building made sure to boast on entering the building that they took part in the Deir Yassin massacre! Our escape unscathed is long story and I will spare you the details. The point I really wanted to make when I started writing is that I am not as charitable as my fellow Palestinians where Zionists are concerned. One should always consider how tormented must have been the two Palestinians who embarked on their suicidal attack on the Synagogue. All acts of revenge by Palestinians pale into insignificance when compared to the crimes committed against them by their oppressors who usurped their country. This being the case, I do not judged any act of revenge. Besides, in order to obliterate their barbaric crime at Deir Yassin, the Zionists saw it fit to build their Vad Yashem in close proximity to their most horrendous crime scene.

  8. Ann Hafften says:

    Thanks for this excellent post, Jim.

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