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From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Monday, April 05, 2004

In her latest update regarding the OSU Committee for Justice in Palestine, Yoshie Furuhashi writes that “the Deir Yassin massacre was used by Zionist paramilitary leaders to terrorize Palestinian villagers into fleeing what would become the state of Israel.” She also helpfully includes a link to this article, along with this delightfully selective quote:

"Describing the slaughter as a successful battle, he [Irgun commander Mordechai Raanan] exaggerated the toll. As he later explained, 'I told the reporters that 254 were killed so that a big figure would be published, and so that Arabs would panic . . . across the country.' . . . 'The news of [Deir Yassin] precipitated a flight of the Arab populations [in Palestine] from areas with large Jewish populations,' the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress had concluded."

You’ll note, of course, that once again a tell-tale ellipses gives the gig away: The first and second parts of Furuhashi’s excerpt are in fact seven paragraphs apart. It’s a low standard, to be sure, but at least this time the two parts of the quote are from the same source, unlike with the bogus Desmond Tutu quote flaunted by the Palestine Solidarity Conference (and, yes, their “quote” is still there).

In between the paragraphs Furuhashi samples from, we read that Shimon Monita, a Haganah infiltrator of the Jerusalem Lehi, is quoted as having had this to say in 1948:

Everyone was comfortable with the high number. The dissidents were interested in boasting and scaring the Arabs; the Haganah and the Jewish Agency were interested in making dissidents look bad and scaring the Arabs; the Arabs were interested in making the Jews look bad; the British were interested in making the Jewish terrorists look bad. Everyone grasped at the number that Raanan had made up.

But, of course, the only people Furuhashi sees fit to mention as exploiting Deir Yassin were those nefarious “Zionist paramilitary leaders,” grr. She probably just forgot to mention, oh, the British and the Arabs. Go figure.

Also in between Furuhashi’s ellipsis is this little bit of information, which she chooses to omit:

The effect of the Deir Yassin incident was profound. A large retaliatory massacre took place on 13 April 1948, when as many as 70 or more Jewish medical personnel were killed in a merciless Arab ambush of a convoy to Mt. Scopus near Jerusalem.

Oh. Will Furuhashi and the CJP be commemorating any of these people? I doubt it, and I hope not, as it would be a shame to see their deaths exploited for cheap, maudlin quasi-political theatrics at 15th and High.

Regarding Deir Yassin, as Hogan notes, this was "a wartime tragedy of complex causation, neither wholly spontaneous nor wholly premeditated, during which an inept booty and morale-building raid by irregular Jewish fighters became an episode of prolonged slaughter and wanton abuse of Arab civilians.” Hogan also notes “The weight of the available evidence is that neither the attack nor massacre was initiated by official Labor Zionist leadership, local or central, though reluctant authorization for an attack was given by the local commander. The Jewish Agency in Tel Aviv was taken by surprise and ultimately issued a public condemnation.”

Isn’t it interesting that Deir Yassin is a familiar element of Israeli and Jewish historiography (there are innumerable accounts of Jews and Israelis commemorating this event, to say the least) yet the subsequent Arab assault upon medical personnel, itself (per Hogan) a “massacre” and “a merciless Arab ambush” that was executed in complete violation of all standards of military conduct, not to mention human decency, is generally mentioned only in the context of Deir Yassin? Although Jews and Jewish groups have been known to commemorate Deir Yassin, and have been doing so for quite a while now, as far as I know Arab groups have never regularly, if ever, commemorated the Arab massacre of Jews that occurred just a few days later. Or any Arab massacre of Jews, for that matter (and there are plenty to choose from). Indeed, while the Jewish Agency publicly condemned the events at Deir Yassin, has any Arab agency or organization or group ever condemned the medical convoy massacre? Just wondering. Although my inbox is flooded every spring with updates about Deir Yassin, I’ve never received a single reminder or update from the same groups about, say, the medical convoy massacre. Not to be cynical, but had Jewish forces ambushed an Arab medical convoy and massacred 70 or more Arab medical personnel, I suspect we’d be hearing quite a bit more about it. But perhaps because it was yet another case of “militants” murdering Jews en masse, there’s not the same historical element and impetus that often characterizes descriptions of Deir Yassin… And perhaps some massacres are just more important to commemorate than others. I mean, we’re talking Zionists here, after all.

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