Monday, April 9, 2007

The Ghosts of Deir Yassin

by Sonja Karkar
Women for Palestine

"Israel has long played on its heroic beginnings to stir up support for its less than heroic exploits today. The problem is that those heroic beginnings have always been a fiction. Israel’s bloody birth and subsequent actions were crimes against humanity which continue to this day. The veneer of Israel’s manufactured “legitimacy” cannot hide the rot eating away at the core of its existence - its original sin of violent dispossession and its current colonialist and apartheid policies. And, without acknowledgement of, and reparations for, the atrocities committed against the Palestinians, the ghosts of Deir Yassin and elsewhere in Palestine will continue to loom large in any peace talks.

It was 9 April 1948, that a Jewish terrorist gang entered the quiet rural village of Deir Yassin on the outskirts of Jerusalem with the express purpose of destroying it. There were 750 people living in the village at the time, mostly stonecutters. Their houses had been built from limestone with arched doors and windows and these homes had stood that way for centuries. The villagers knew that massacres had been carried out earlier in the year in other villages and had, therefore, entered into a non-aggression pact with the Jewish Hagana, another terrorist group. But this pact was worthless: Deir Yassin had already been marked for extinction and to avoid being held accountable the Hagana called on two terrorist groups, the Irgun and Stern Gang, to execute the plan......

Today, in the most tasteless, despicable irony, the Israeli museum commemorating the Jewish holocaust, Yad Vashem sits on top of a hill overlooking the graveyard of Deir Yassin, while the limestone buildings of the former Palestinian village are used as an Israeli mental institution. Is it any wonder that the ghosts of Deir Yassin still haunt the collective memory of Palestinians and all those who know that Deir Yassin was the catalyst in the plan to create a Jewish-only state of Israel? In the meantime, the millions of dispossessed in the camps of Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon are waiting to return and/or receive compensation for their immeasurable losses and nobody has the authority to trade away their human rights in order to submit to a racist state born out of Palestinian dispossession and misery. To agree to anything less without their consensus would betray the 60-year Palestinian struggle for recognition and self-determination in defiance of Apartheid Israel. "

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