No Pride in This Memorial: April 9th in Middle East History

Posted on Mon, Apr 08, 2013 @ 10:55 PM
 Map courtesy Wikipedia

An event the Palestinians recall every year is the massacre of 100110 Palestinian villagers at Deir Yassin on the city's western edge on April 9, 1948. It became the most significant aspect of Operation Nachshon, the Jewish campaign to open up the corridor between the Mediterranean coast and Jerusalem.

The attack on the village was carried out by two Jewish underground organizations, Irgun Z'vai Leumi (IZL) and Lohamei Herut Israel (Lehi; also known as the Stern Gang), with the apparent agreement of the Haganah in Jerusalem. The villagers had been friendly toward the Jews, refusing to allow Palestinian resistance fighters to stay there, but they had armed themselves against possible attack. The fighting went so badly for the Jewish attackers that they resorted to dynamiting houses, killing men, women and children. Though many younger male Palestinians escaped, others (women, children and old men) were humiliated by being trucked through Jerusalem in a kind of victory parade and then dumped in Arab East Jerusalem.

Along with many other sources, Benny Morris's 1999 book, Righteous Victimsdetails this confrontation. Deir Yassin's website contains much helpful information as does the associated documentary.

The immediate result of the massacre was such that a Palestinian refugee exodus began. This turning point in the Middle East conflict opened the way for Jewish successes in the days ahead. It also set the stage for fierce reprisal. Four days later, the Palestinians attacked a 10-vehicle convoy traveling to Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus. During the six-hour fight, two armored buses were torched and more than 70 mostly unarmed Jewish doctors, nurses and lecturers died.

The State of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, later apologized for the events at Deir Yassin.

Tags: palestinians, Ben-Gurion, 1948 war, Deir Yassin, Middle East Conflict

Times Online Book Review and History of Zionism

Posted on Fri, Feb 22, 2008 @ 03:18 PM

Founder of Zionism's right wing casts long shadow

In a lengthy review of six recent books on Palestine and Israel , Geoffrey Wheatcroft, author of The Controversy of Zion: Jewish Nationalism, the Jewish State, and the Unresolved Jewish Dilemma, points up some surprising facts about current Israeli leaders and their antecedents.

Of particular interest is their connection with Vladimir Jabotinsky. The urbane, literary, charismatic leader of an early break in Zionism that became today's Likud and Kadima parties is the subject of a section in Identity,Ideology, and the Future of Jerusalem.

The books reviewed by Wheatcroft are:

Jacqueline Rose
256pp. Verso. £16.99 (US $29.95).
978 1 84467 124 3

Colin Shindler
Nationalism and the origins of the Israeli Right
272pp. Tauris. £39.50 (US $85).
978 1 84511 030 7

David Goldberg
Israel and the Jewish psyche today
256pp. Tauris. £19.50 (US $35).
978 1 84511 054 3

Victoria Clark
The rise of Christian Zionism
331pp. Yale University Press. £18.99 (US $28).
978 0 300 11698 4

Yakov M. Rabkin
A century of Jewish opposition to Zionism
224pp. Zed Books. Paperback, £18.99 (US $34).
978 1 84277 699 5

Jimmy Carter
Peace not apartheid
288pp. Simon and Schuster. Paperback, £8.99 (US $15).
978 1 84739 154 4

Tags: Ben-Gurion, Olmert, Palestine, carter clark goldberg israel, jabotinsky, livni, rabkin rose schindler wheatcroft zionism

Massacre of Palestinians at Deir Yassin Named Black Stain by Jewish Thinkers

Posted on Wed, Feb 06, 2008 @ 04:43 PM
Martin Buber and one of the seminal events in the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948

Deir Yassin todayIt was Jewish philosopher Martin Buber who, with three other Jewish thinkers, wrote to Ben-Gurion that the massacre of over 100 men, women and children by Jewish forces at Deir Yassin is "a black stain on the honour of the Jewish nation" and "a warning to our people that no practical military needs may ever justify such acts of murder."

Ben-Gurion never replied despite being sent several copies of the letter.

Two Jewish underground groups are traditionally associated with the events at Deir Yassin: IZL (Irgun Z'vai Leumi) and LHI (Lehame Herut Israel [Stern Group]). But as Israeli historian Benny Morris has pointed out in Righteous Victims (1990, p.207), there was a third supporting group, comprised of Palmach and Haganah elements (there with the approval of the Haganah command in Jerusalem).

Jewish theologian Marc Ellis notes that Martin Buber also wrote in his letter to Ben-Gurion, "The time will come when it will be possible to conceive of some act in Deir Yassin, an act which will symbolize our people's desire for justice and brotherhood with the Arab people."

Speed the day.

Deir Yassin: From Both Sides

Tags: middle east, arab-israeli conflict, israeli-palestinian conflict, 1948, Ben-Gurion, Marc Ellis, Martin Buber, Benny Morris, Deir Yassin

60 Years Ago in Palestine: The Lead-Up to Israeli Independence

Posted on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 @ 04:11 PM
Jewish War Plan D[aleth] Accelerated
Abdel Qadir al-Husayni

In early April 1948, the Jewish leadership under Ben-Gurion gradually operationalized their offensive Plan D[aleth]. It was still several weeks before British withdrawal when the plan was originally to come into effect. Part of the accelerated program, known as Operation Nachshon, involved opening up a corridor from the coast to Jerusalem—a narrow road overlooked by Arab villages. This action came in response to the attacks of an Arab armed band that had formed along with others in December 1947-January 1948. One of the largest was led by Abdel Qadir al-Husayni, whose territory encompassed the hills around Ramallah and Jerusalem and who was known to be active in attacking the corridor road. According to Michael Hudson, Operation Nachshon also foresaw the annexing of "as much as the city as possible to the Jewish state."

Two critical events in April led to the subsequent Zionist capture of significant parts of Jerusalem.

On March 31 Ben-Gurion had met with Jewish underground (Haganah) leaders and ordered an attack on the Arab village of Kastel, which overlooked the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road. The Palmach captured the village on April 2, only to be counter-attacked by Abdel Qadir al-Husayni's men. Believing that the village was in his hands, at dawn on April 8 Abdel Qadir mistakenly walked up to a Jewish sentry and was shot dead. Recapturing the hilltop of Kastel, Arab forces took the leader's body to the Haram/Temple Mount and buried him there next to his father. Husayni's death was a tremendously demoralizing moment for the Palestinians and a turning point in the war.

The second event was the infamous Jewish attack on the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin on the western edge of Jerusalem. We will come to that next time.

Tags: jerusalem, mid east conflict, palestinians, Ben-Gurion, 1948 war, abdel qadir al husyani

February-April 1948: Moving Toward an Independent Jewish State as Britain's Mandate Ends

Posted on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 @ 04:18 PM
Sixty years ago, events in Palestine set in motion an inevitable coming clash of Arabs and Jews over refugees and Jerusalem—Part Two
Jerusalem in 1948

Jewish soldiers in an abandoned Palestinian house in Qatamoun, West Jerusalem, 1948. GPO/AIC photo.

In February 1948, Ben-Gurion gave orders to the Haganah (the Jewish underground) to take possession of more Arab areas in West Jerusalem and to populate them with Jews. 

In March, the Haganah agreed on offensive actions (Plan D[alet]) against the Palestinians, including the expulsion of the population of entire Arab villages.

On March 31 Ben-Gurion met with Haganah leaders and ordered an attack on the Arab village of Kastel, which overlooked the Tel Aviv–Jerusalem road. Several weeks before the official British withdrawal, the plan became operational, with a view to opening a corridor from the coast to Jerusalem (Operation Nachshon), and annexing "as much of the city as possible to the Jewish state" (Michael Hudson, "Transformation of Jerusalem," 258).

Though Ben-Gurion later claimed that the Negev was his first priority (Memoirs, 136-7), based on interviews with Yigal Allon, Yigael Yadin and Ben-Gurion, foreign correspondent Dan Kurzman wrote: "The full impact of his lifelong obsession with the Bible struck with blistering force when it appeared that Jerusalem would fall to the Arabs and perhaps be lost forever to the Jewish state. Whatever happened to any other Jewish areas, the Holy City must be saved. It was the soul of the Jewish people, the fount of the light to be cast unto the nations. He had agreed that it be internation­alized as a temporary concession. But an Arab flag over Jerusalem? Not for one minute!" (Ben-Gurion, 279).

The stage was set for a decades long clash over Jerusalem as well as the Palestinian refugee question.

Naymz Profile for Dr.  David  Hulme

Tags: Ben-Gurion, British Mandate, operation nachshon, Independent Jewish State, Kastel, West Jerusalem