Anatomy of a Whitewash:A Critical Examination and Refutation of the Historical Revisionist "Deir Yassin: History of A Lie," Issued By the Zionist Organization of America (Mar. 8, 1998)
By Matthew C. Hogan and Daniel A. McGowan
"For fifty years . . . [it has been alleged] that Jewish fighters [of the Irgun and Stern organizations] massacred . . . Arab civilians during a battle [in Deir Yassin] near Jerusalem in 1948 [prior to the establishment of the State of Israel] . . . [An] important work on this subject . . . which was consulted for this study, is a history of the 1948 war by Professor Uri Milstein, one of Israel's most distinguished military historians. . . . Professor Milstein's meticulous research has been praised by academics from across the political spectrum . . . Milstein's study 'will most likely turn out to be the definitive military history of the 1948 war' [approvingly quoting Benny Morris]."
Zionist Organization of America, "Deir Yassin: History of a Lie"
"I maintain that even before the establishment of the State, each battle ended with a massacre. . . [The] War of Independence was the dirtiest of them all . . . The idea behind a massacre is to inflict a shock on the enemy, to paralyze the enemy. In the War of Independence everybody massacred everybody, but most of the action happened between Jews and Palestinians. . . The education in the Yishuv at that time had it that the Arabs would do anything to kill us and therefore we had to massacre them. A substantial part of the Jewish public was convinced that the most cherished wish of say, a nine-year old Arab child, was to exterminate us. This belief bordered on paranoia."
Professor Uri Milstein, quoted in Ha'ir, "Not Only Deir Yassin"
In an ultimately unsuccessful attempt at historical revisionism which morally echoes, though is dwarfed by, that of the Holocaust deniers, the Zionist Organization of America has produced a report entitled "Deir Yassin: A History of a Lie" [hereinafter "ZOA report"] which attempts to deny 50 years of conventional history, Israeli and Arab, Zionist and non-Zionist, Western and "Third World." Like Holocaust "revisionism," its aim is to exculpate the guilty and its effect is to cheat the victims of their moral right to the tragic dignity of his personal suffering. More specifically, the ZOA report's aim is to establish that the forces of the dissident Zionist organizations Irgun Z'vai Leumi ("IZL", "Irgun," National Military Organization) and the Lochamei Herut Israel ("Lehi", also known as "Stern Gang" or "Stern Group," Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) did not massacre scores of men, women, and children captives after their capture and occupation of the Palestinian Arab village of Deir Yassin, beginning on April 9, 1948. In short, it is a whitewash, but fortunately, a bad and self-defeating one.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, the ZOA report by itself, though it relies extensively on a single secondary source, confirms most of the assertions generally held regarding the Deir Yassin incident to the point where it is difficult for a reasonable person to even doubt the massacre. *** In fact, the ZOA report in addition to its implicit endorsement of the high credibility of survivor testimony, may constitute one of the first, and certainly better publicized, studies of the subject that provides objective figures on the casualties, figures which render practically conclusive the proposition that the dead of Deir Yassin were slaughtered with deliberate intent. [See discussion # 13 for detail] *** At the same time the claim or implication that massacre reports are the result of Arab, anti-Israel, anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic propaganda or fabrications are shown to be clearly false. The ZOA report is useful, however, in its collection of different sources, though the reliance on Dr. Uri Milstein's work for over 44 of the 156 footnotes makes it not as diverse as it could be.
The ZOA report also debunks or at least contradicts many old Zionist claims regarding the general causes of mass Palestinian flight from what became Israel. Additionally, on close examination the ZOA report seems to concede that the testimony of survivors and Palestinian factual investigation about the events of Deir Yassin are more credible that those of the organizations and participants that captured the village. Finally, it is shown that the ZOA report does complain about, and legitimately document, a real problem within modern intellectual circles on the Middle East in the English-language, namely, an insufficiently critical acceptance of Labor Zionist contentions, the failure to note or properly represent dissent to those contentions, and the inability of Arabs to penetrate that uncritical consensus even when their contentions are demonstrably more correct.
This paper critically examines the evidence offered and argued in the ZOA report. Its purpose is to show that when examined for credible material evidence, the ZOA report fails to meet its burden of overcoming decades of a broad consensus of a terrible massacre committed in the small village of Deir Yassin, west of Jerusalem (the reports of which, it must be conceded, are often flawed in rigor and detail, as well as used for political and rhetorical purposes). More particularly, however, this paper will also show that the ZOA report actually supports most, if not all, of the key conventional facts and arguments which tend to demonstrate or "prove" that a massacre-–a deliberate killing of civilian captives-–took place at the hands of the Irgun and Lehi.
This paper does readily concede that the ZOA has met its burden of proof on the issue of correcting the conventional figure of 254 dead with a more realistic primary source-derived casualty count of 107 dead and 12 wounded. This paper also does not address charges of additional atrocities (e.g. rape, looting) except briefly to note that they do not appear to be refuted or confirmed.
One reason for the approach of generally not going behind the ZOA sources is that an opportunity to review the ZOA sources prior to the 50th anniversary of the massacre is limited. (Certain outside sources mostly unrelated to Deir Yassin are used for comparative purposes.) Since the ZOA report appears timed with that, this relatively rapid response is created. Thus, this paper basically limits itself to addressing whether they have met their burden of proof in engaging in massacre theory refutation. And in fact, not only do they not, but they confirm most of the evidence of those who claim a massacre did take place at Deir Yassin, and advance conclusive—particularly in terms of casualty figures—new evidence and arguments in favor.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof in this debate is on "massacre deniers" like ZOA and its report. The reason for this is simple. Conventional history, at least in English, has generally accepted that a massacre took place at Deir Yassin. The ZOA report agrees with that assessment. By its own figures only 8 out of 170 English language books on the subject (about 5%) question that a massacre took place. Many of the "pro-massacre" books, it notes, are required academic reading, others like the bestseller O Jerusalem! and Genesis:1948 are popular works by major publishers, and one is the only-–and therefore standard—English source on Zionist anti-British resistance in Palestine (Bell, J. Bowyer. Terror out of Zion).
What this means is that the ZOA is put to the burden of producing evidence corroborating the long-rejected Irgun-Lehi theory that the victims died in house-to-house combat rather than through the deliberate slaughter of captives. (By "captive" here is meant anyone either in custody or non-resisting parties, civilian or military, under direct control of an armed party.) This could be forensic, eyewitness, or some documentary or photographic revelation attributable to someone on the scene. (In this respect, simply more Irgun or Lehi members saying self-servingly or long after the fact "we did not do it" is not especially significant; nor is anything that is simply conclusory that says "they did not do it", if it is not attributable to some underlying independent contemporary observer or physical evidence.) Discrediting of hostile witnesses is significant if the hostile witness's information is competent, relevant, and material. But in order to meet a burden of proof, all hostile witnesses on a point must be discredited.
In essence, the ZOA, in order to establish the massacre allegation as a lie, must show us something that convincingly contradicts the conventional wisdom. Overcoming conventional wisdom can be done. It has been done. On the very issue of Middle East refugees, Erskine Childers, then an Irish journalist, in 1961 challenged the conventional wisdom that Palestinian refugees fled their homes in 1948 due to radio broadcasts by the Arab states and political forces urging them to leave. He did so by examining the actual records of the broadcasts in the British Museum. He found no such orders to leave, in fact he found orders to remain, and published the results of his examination in the London Spectator ("The Other Exodus," London Spectator, 12 May 1961). Nowadays, conventional wisdom has turned around such that a historian such as Dr. Aryeh Yitzhaki, who in 1992 was military historian for the Israel Defense Forces, described the alleged calls by Arab governments for the Palestinians to leave "fabrications" (Ha'ir, May 6, 1992).
This paper presents a coherent, compelling, and rather conventional theory of the incident as resulting in a massacre. It then looks to see if the material in the ZOA report confirms, supports, or refutes that theory. It does find that the ZOA report's evidence at minimum fails to credibly challenge the theory of a massacre and it tends to support, even confirm, the traditional view of a massacre. Additionally, the report confirms that the dissemination of the massacre theory of the events of Deir Yassin was not in origin Arab, anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, although it has been used for such purposes. The ZOA report also tends to confirm certain more modern general theories about Palestinian flight in the 1948 war. Finally, the ZOA report points up a major problem in English-language Middle East study-–the uncritical acceptance and dissemination of Labor Zionist contentions.
References to the ZOA report are not by page as many readers may have "downloaded" the text electronically and pagination may vary. Therefore, citation is either to a named subsection or to the footnote number which follows the portion referred to. This will appear as the full word "note" as in (note 33). If the reference is to the actual footnote content at the end of the document, the reference appears as the letter "n." and number, as in (note 33). References to outside works will be by author and title. References to the numbered discussions in this paper are as follows (see # [number]).
Structure: Theory and Discussion
Below is a theory of a massacre at Deir Yassin. Each proposition in the developed theory is preceded by a number. A detailed discussion of each proposition and how the ZOA report confirms it, or fails to contradict it, follows in sections numbered correspondingly.
Theory of a Massacre: Deir Yassin, Palestine Mandate, beginning April 9, 1948.
Perpetrators: Combined Units-–Irgun Z'vai Leumi & Lochamei Herut Israel underground paramilitary
Victims: Civilian Villagers
Massacre Casualties: (best estimate) 107 dead, 12 wounded
On April 9, 1948, combined forces of the independent Zionist organizations Irgun and Lehi, attacked the Arab village of Deir Yassin, and with the aid of the Haganah, the main pre-State Israeli army in Palestine, they captured it. Some 100 or so civilian men, women, and children lay dead in the aftermath.
MASSACRE THEORY PROPOSITIONS
The Massacre Theory: A massacre (perhaps with other atrocities like rape, looting, or mutilation) was perpetrated on those captive villagers in Deir Yassin. They were deliberately slaughtered by the forces of the Irgun and Lehi.
Evidence of Massacre SUPPORTED BY THE EVIDENCE IN THE ZOA REPORT "Deir Yassin: History of A Lie":
Credibility of Attackers:
1) The attackers at Deir Yassin have originated lies (official and unofficial) for the public record on their actions there, they have ample motive for doing so, and their credibility when offering statements supporting a denial of a massacre is limited and damaged. 2) There exists the "hard" evidence of photographs (and a subjective contemporary report) in the Israeli archives which (at least the photos) would obviously help support the claims of the massacre deniers, if such are true, but there appears no effort by them—either attackers or apologists like ZOA—to get them released for inspection. [Note: groups like Deir Yassin Remembered are eager to see these released for historical value and forensic analysis.]
Nature of The Attackers:
3) Regarding the events themselves, the main organization which is accused of the massacre at Deir Yassin had a record of terrorism in the form of murderous and humiliating displays of violence against captives and an indifference to civilian life when a political goal could be accomplished. 4) In fact, members of the attacking groups had such an operational ethic that they required special consultation and instructions NOT to harm civilians or prisoners. 5) One group accused in the massacre has been shown to have welcomed the idea of sowing general panic among the Arabs by a large death toll.
6) A fearsome showing, specifically a massacre (including women and children victims), was actually proposed and contemplated by attacker group members prior to the attack as part of their introduction of themselves as a regular fighting force.
Course of Events:
7) There appears to be no evidence that Deir Yassin was selected for Igun-Lehi capture (with Haganah coordination and support) because it had a hostile population or was feared as a base of hostile operations or of foreign hostile forces. 8) And there is no independent corroboration of the claim that the village was an armed base for hostile foreign forces. 9) In any event, the initial attack by Irgun-Lehi on the morning of April 9, 1948 failed in certain respects, namely the warning loudspeaker was ineffective and the Irgun-Lehi attackers failed to actually take the town. 10) The attackers eventually had to let the rival Haganah come and subdue the town. 11) These terror organizations, who had just been frustrated, frightened, humiliated, killed and injured by the village defense, now were now entrusted with the fate of the villagers.
The Lethal Outcome of April 9 and Thereafter:
12) As late as two days later and as early as that afternoon, the attacker-controlled village is observed as a scene of terrible carnage—about 100 dead bodies (or more), apparently civilian, including large numbers of women and children apparently still in houses. It is not disputed that the Stern-Lehi weapons physically caused their deaths. 13) Casualty and post-battle figures are inconsistent and missing, and while the attackers claim the deaths resulted unintentionally from a hard-fought battle, and not a systematic massacre, the best casualty figures available indicate that almost 90% of civilians "unintentionally" hit by or because of Irgun-Lehi firepower ended up dead (three times the lethal accuracy of such massacres as Jonesboro and the Texas Tower; only 9% less than Lidice, about equal to Hadassah Hospital, and 5% deadlier than fire at Wounded Knee), while "intense firepower" directed at the attackers out in the open scored only 10% lethal hits; that about 50 prisoners are unaccounted for, and that a most deferential estimate of the alleged Arab fighters killed yields a 33% civilian to fighter death ratio, still twice the overestimated civilian to fighter casualty rate first falsely reported at My Lai and which set off suspicious inquiries about causes of civilian deaths. Additionally, casualty and prisoner figures are in general inconsistent or absent.
14) There is no independent corroboration for the attacker's explanation of the large numbers of deaths being caused by rough house-to-house fighting in the April 9, 1948 morning battle. 15) And there is no non-Irgun non-Lehi person on the immediate scene who corroborates their massacre denial. 16) On the other hand there are many who have reported on the record seeing a massacre of innocent civilians at Deir Yassin by the Irgun and Lehi. 17) In fact, some evidence exists indicating that some Irgun-Lehi members may have privately admitted they "cold bloodedly shot every Arab they found-–man, woman, or child" at Deir Yassin. 18) Further, it is uncontroverted that after the capture of the village several of the attackers were observed contemplating a massacre of prisoners.
Additional Issues of Atrocity and Cruelty:
15) There are additional allegations of atrocities, including rape, mutilation, and looting that are unconfirmed and unrefuted. 20) A truck carrying captives from Deir Yassin was driven through West Jerusalem where crowds around it displayed hostility and one contemporary witness with basis for knowledge reported this was done to boost public morale. 21) Since all these events, there appears little observed remorse or recrimination from the attackers who supposedly killed women and children only by accident.
The above theory and evidence clearly argue overwhelmingly that a massacre occurred at Deir Yassin. The theory and its components are validated almost exclusively by the evidence in the ZOA report itself (with some outside data for illustration and comparison purposes). Despite its attempted argumentation, the ZOA report fails to conceal the reality of a terrible massacre (which possibly included other atrocities) that occurred to the residents of Deir Yassin in early April 1948. Below, it will be shown how each point is demonstrated by the ZOA report.
Propositions Supported By ZOA Report
1) The ZOA report reveals that the attackers at Deir Yassin have originated lies (official and unofficial) for the public record on their actions there, and have ample motive for doing so, and their credibility when offering statements supporting a denial of a massacre is limited and damaged.
The participants in the attack at Deir Yassin were led by an organization that has had an admitted record of lying for public consumption about their actions in Deir Yassin. Statements from the attackers themselves, especially years after the massacre, are of limited use in terms of evidence as they have host of motives (and as time goes by greater opportunity) to lie about a massacre and support the excuse of accidental civilian mass death from a combat with regular Arab soldiers or organized fighters. Many such motives are obvious, like shame and embarrassment. And there is a less obvious financial and comradely motive for doing so revealed by the ZOA The government of Israel once questioned the military nature of the attack in order to deny wounded veteran's benefits to attackers who were wounded in the initial fighting at Deir Yassin (note 74). To support their comrades and their own benefit status and not to impugn testimony in a hearing on the subject, there is a motive to maintain a coherent line on the subject.
The ZOA report also recalls one attacker Reuven Greenberg. He is admitted to have tried to lie on the record about Deir Yassin and falsely attribute a civilian death to false causes (Haganah detonator). He is described as a shady character, "a man who knew how to tell tales." (note 73)
But the attackers in a collective way lied about Deir Yassin for the public record. The Irgun leader Mordechai Ra'naan is reported by the ZOA to have knowingly exaggerated the Arab casualty figures at Deir Yassin (note 83). He raised them to 254 to provoke fear (note 83), and this excessive figure has gone around the historical record (notes 92-112, generally) until, according to the ZOA report, Palestinian Arab survivors of Deir Yassin and a Palestinian University offered for the record far straighter casualty figures based on new primary source inquiry (see generally notes 88-91).
The ZOA report clearly argues that the attackers are of limited credibility. Referring to those who have passed along the false 254 figure, it argues (section: "The latest and the worst"):
"If those who claimed there was a massacre . . . have been proven to be so completely unreliable concerning the crucial question of the casualty total, what does that say about the reliability of their other claims? If the accusers were willing to knowingly assert that the number of victims was nearly 150% larger than it really was, how can we trust their other claims-–of rape, mutilation, and of the massacre itself? . . . Whether through mendacity or carelessness, they mangled the truth, and such behavior would have discredited all of their testimony in a court of law."
But as just noted above, the ZOA report concedes that the original "knowing asserter" of casualty falsehood was the Irgun itself! And it also reports that there were other attackers who counted the bodies or were aware at the time of a body count and knew the public record figure was wrong (note 82). So cannot the following slightly altered question therefore be asked about attacker credibility?
"If those who claimed there was NO massacre . . . have been proven to be so completely unreliable concerning the crucial question of the casualty total, what does that say about the reliability of their other claims? If the ACCUSED were willing to knowingly assert that the number of victims was nearly 150% larger than it really was, how can we trust their other claims – [DENIAL] of rape, mutilation, and [DENIAL]of the massacre itself? . . . Whether through mendacity or carelessness, they mangled the truth, and such behavior would have discredited all of their testimony in a court of law."
The ZOA report's own standard of credibility speaks for itself. In addition to the self-serving nature of attacker denials, and accounts supporting the heavy combat excuse, the attackers are not to be trusted as they are the dishonest source of the very figures whose falsehood dooms the speaker to permanent inadmissibility under the ZOA's rules of evidence.
2) The ZOA report confirms there is "hard" contemporary evidence about the Deir Yassin incident in the form of photographs (and a subjective contemporary report) in the Israeli archives which (the photos) would obviously help support the claims of the massacre deniers, if they are as true as they claim, yet there appears no effort by them-–either attackers or apologists—to release them for inspection. [Note: Deir Yassin Remembered is eager to see these released for historical value and forensic analysis.]
It is not denied that the photos in the Israeli archives alleged to be of Deir Yassin on the day of the battle are those of the place (note 56). While the archives have only admitted they show bodies (note 56), still dead people do tell tales. Positions of bodies, their clothing and conditions can go a long way to helping the attackers vindicate their case if true. Yet, there is no call by the ZOA report, or reported of any attacker, calling for their release, either to the public or for private inspection should adverse publicity be feared or out of respect for surviving relatives. The old chief of the Irgun (note 28), Menachem Begin, was Prime Minister for many years, yet he obviously never released them. If the physical evidence is present and the massacre denial is true, why not release them? Or is there something in the photos that it is not desired that we see. Not only is this a general question of credibility in massacre denial but in each of the detailed propositions in this paper where corroboration would be possible from the photos, e.g. Iraqi soldiers, nature of battle, condition of bodies etc, the lack of call for these photos is additional evidence of lack of corroboration.
3) The ZOA report confirms that the main organization accused of the massacre at Deir Yassin had a record of terrorism in the form of murderous and humiliating displays of violence against captives and an indifference to civilian life when a political goal could be accomplished.
Some conventional history labels the Irgun and Lehi organizations as terrorist. For example, it is recorded that the Irgun retaliated against an Arab village by shooting at civilian Arab crowds in a town when they thought townspeople spied on Jewish convoys, and threw bombs at civilian Arab shoppers and bus stop in Jerusalem. (See Collins/Lapierre, O Jerusalem p.117, 135). Conventional accounts also record that the Irgun already had a mode of operation of cold-blooded premeditated violence in which deaths of innocent (and even friendly) civilians were considered acceptable if a political goal was accomplished. This extended to humiliating and retaliating against enemies by publicly displaying violent abuse, and killing of, prisoners. (see Collins/Lapierre p. 117.)
This assessment confirmed by the ZOA report. The report notes the bombing of the King David Hotel by the Irgun (which, although not mentioned, is generally known to have caused 90 deaths, including Jewish and Arab civilians) (note 79). The military target, as the ZOA report indicates, was the British Mandatory Government's office in the hotel (note 79). But they clearly did not scruple to kill civilians cold-bloodedly. [Whether or not there was a warning in advance is irrelevant, the point is they were willing to go ahead with it.] The report also mentions Irgun "retaliatory hangings" and "public whippings" indicating a penchant for harming prisoners as acts of retaliation (note 79). The report even shows them attempting to blow up a police headquarters while their own members are prisoners inside (note 79).
Without going beyond the ZOA report, it is clear that Deir Yassin was about to be descended upon by people with a cold-blooded disregard for human life and a penchant for deadly and even sadistic violence against people they hold captive. These are the people who deny committing a massacre after they took the Arab village.
4) The ZOA report reveals that members of the attacking groups were terrorist in that that they required special orders NOT to harm civilians or prisoners.
In a section entitled "Begin vetoed mistreatment of civilians", the ZOA report advises that prior to attacking Deir Yassin, the attackers had to appeal all the way to their commander in Tel Aviv for specific instructions not to harm civilians. One is forced to wonder by this alone what the normal fighting ethic of the group was. One does not "veto" an idea that is not urged up from below. Clearly, the general operating ethic is one easily described as terrorist. (The ZOA report labels some people "terrorist" because they are alleged to be willing to put civilian "hostages," i.e. captives, in harm's way (note 40). [This terrorist designation is corroborated by a conventional source, the New York Times' Dana Adams Schmidt, who in his book Armageddon In The Middle East, recalls travelling to Tel Aviv after Deir Yassin to meet "the Irgun spokesman" (unnamed, possibly Begin) who tells him that it is necessary to use "terror, bombs, and assassination." (pp. 3-5)]
5) The ZOA report confirms the group accused of massacre welcomed the idea of general panic being spread among the Arabs by a high death toll.
After the capture of Deir Yassin, the ZOA report records that the Irgun commander told the press an exaggerated death figure in order that "the Arabs would panic not only in Jerusalem but across the country" (note 84). Menachem Begin is cited by the ZOA report as finding to be beneficial general Arab flight (described by ZOA as "voluntary Arab emigration"!) resulting from the fear created by reports of Deir Yassin's carnage (note 131). [Again, this confirms the same conventional source cited above (#4), Dana Adams Schmidt, who also reports that the "Irgun spokesman" told him that terror was necessary in order to "frighten the Arabs."]
6) The ZOA report confirms that members of the organizations planning the attack on Deir Yassin wanted to make an exhibition at Deir Yassin of their fearsomeness as a new combined regular fighting force and specifically that a massacre (including women and children victims) was proposed and discussed by the Irgun-Lehi group members prior to the attack.
In a rare favorable citing of Haganah intelligence officer Meir Pa'il who had contacts inside the attacking groups, the ZOA report reveals that there was a discussion that "if we, the IZL (Irgun) and Lehi are finally going to do a joint operation, the Arabs should know it.'" (note 10) Although Pa'il's credibility about his claimed observations of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1998 is questioned in the report, this reference is not. [This supports a reference from a conventional source, David K. Shipler's "Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land" who speaks of a woman and her son in Jerusalem who served tea to the attackers before their assault on Deir Yassin and recalled them speaking excitedly of sending a message to the Arabs all over the land.] In the same Pa'il reference, the ZOA report confirms "during their planning [of the Deir Yassin attack] someone tried to suggested a massacre. . . " Pa'il describes this as a suggestion of more than one member, "some hooligans" but then he notes that the "commanders opposed it." (note 10) The ZOA report does not record Pa'il recollecting that there was any opposition from the rank and file to the "hooligan" suggestion. The ZOA report admits in fact that Lehi representatives told the Irgun commanders they wanted to "kill anyone that opposed us" regardless of "age or gender".
Shortly thereafter these groups would occupy Deir Yassin and leave over 100 dead civilians. Almost 50 years later, the Zionist Organization of America will reject with indignation the suggestion that these groups could possibly have massacred them (see ZOA: Introduction, generally).
7) The ZOA report confirms that there appears to be no evidence that Deir Yassin was selected for Igun-Lehi capture with Haganah coordination and support because it had a hostile population or was feared as a base of hostile operations or of foreign hostile forces.
Deir Yassin was not considered as a center of hostile attacks or a base of foreign Arab troops when it was selected as the testing for the Irgun and Lehi by their leadership and that of the Haganah. Both Irgun-Lehi and Haganah sources are consulted by the ZOA report and in all the planning discussions that they undertook, there is discussion of a long-range desire to set up an airfield near Deir Yassin, a reference to a general unspecified strategic value (presumably another reference to the airfield and the village's location near the road and lower Motza), and finally timing to assist a convoy on the road and an attack on Kastel (notes 6-16). The ZOA report indicates no reference in the discussions to activities of the population of the village itself or to hostile foreign forces being present. In fact, a letter by Haganah commander Shaltiel advises that maintaining the presence of the population is desirable to help PREVENT the village from BECOMING a center for foreign forces (note 7). In fact, the ZOA report confirms that there was a non-belligerency arrangement among Deir Yassin and neighboring Jewish areas, and in Deir Yassin the mukhtar was a Haganah informant (note 19). Had the town demonstrated prior belligerency, a violation of the agreement would likely have been discussed either in the planning stage or in post-attack reports.
In fact, there is only one explicit reference to any possible hostile action from Deir Yassin villagers or the village itself but as it occurs after the selection of Deir Yassin as a target, it was not part of the process of selecting it as a target. [There are other reports in late March and early April of armed people entering or leaving Deir Yassin—probably passing through as the same reports indicate Jewish forces moved through Jewish villages—or gathering there at various times, and that the Haganah-recruited Arab village maintained contacts with Arab military forces-–who are alleged to be based elsewhere—and that fighting or gunfire occurred in the Deir Yassin area or on the roadway near Deir Yassin but no such reports treat these as evidence of either a base or a hostile population. Also seizure Deir Yassin is reported to have been assessed as an advantage for highway protection but again no reference to the village or villagers as a source of trouble (notes 19-26).] A few hours before the assault, the ZOA report indicates, a message from Haganah Jerusalem commander Shaltiel was sent to "a colleague" advising that the "Arabs of Deir Yassin" had trained a mortar on the road to shell the convoy (note 27). An odd report, certainly.
First, nowhere in the report does it say people in the village had ever done that before and it contains no information on the identity or reliability of the source of the report, or its purpose. More importantly, the ZOA report offers no word of a mortar in use at Deir Yassin during the attack, no claim of its capture despite a detailed discussion of materiel found in the village (a discussion of bullets but somehow they overlooked small artillery!) (notes 34-35), nor any concern about it on the part of Haganah or the attackers or the survivors on the ground. Since no mortar appears used by the Arabs in Deir Yassin or found among them, no post-battle concerns about it from the attackers or the Haganah on the ground, it remains a strange inconsistency with no corroboration. It is thus not even credible and it could represent anything from absentminded substitution (concern about the impending Deir Yassin attack), to an out-of-context speculation, to a false bureaucratic justification for authorizing an Irgun-Lehi operation on Deir Yassin, to a forgery. The fact that the only explicit reference to hostile action originating from the village is demonstrably incredible probably argues even more aggressively against the reputation or fact of the village as hostile in that something possibly had to have been made up just to justify an attack.
The ZOA report gives a final confirmation of the belief that the village was expected to pose little danger and therefore was not selected as a vital target. It claims that the attackers' expectation was that the villagers would put up "perhaps . . . token resistance" (note 31). That is hardly something to be expected from a place that was expected to be a hostile encampment.
8) The ZOA report produces no independent contemporary observer corroboration to claims that Deir Yassin was a base for, or had, hostile foreign soldiers (e.g. Iraqis) at the time of the attack.
The claim that foreign regular soldiers or other foreign troops fighting on the Arab side of the conflict were present and fighting in Deir Yassin supports the contention by the attackers that they did not engage in a massacre but that deaths resulted from tough house-to-house combat. Obviously this is self-serving and corroboration would be vital. (This is especially true in light of the low credibility of the Irgun-Lehi evidence of foreign troops, to be discussed below, and the additional consideration that it has been in the financial self-interest of the participants or their comrades for the receipt of benefits (see #1, above). Deir Yassin has been subject to difficult litigation to establish it was a military action in order for Deir Yassin veterans to receive benefits.)
Missing Figures, As If They Were Never There
An additional point of note is that the ZOA report in the section "How many Arabs died at Deir Yassin?" and sections thereafter goes on and on about the history of the 254 number but settles on the low survivor-based estimate of 107 dead and a conclusive high of 120 (note 91 ). ***At no point in calculating "Arab deaths," however, does it spare a thought wondering how many outside fighter/soldiers there may have been in order to determine the body count of Arabs.*** Now that we have a hard and acceptable civilian figure, independently verified, why do they not proceed to determine the presence of foreign fighters, most of whom would presumably be Arab, to round out the body count? Why not turn to the Irgun figures on fighter casualties? Or the Lehi ones? Or maybe a Haganah post-battle report, as they were more institutionalized? But there appear no clear figures, because none were made or because there were no such casualties?
It's almost as if the ZOA authors forgot the cover story of the foreign soldiers and reverted to the truth that only villagers died at Deir Yassin. The "How many Arabs died. . . ?" section in the report (and its following) seem quite happy to end the question of Arab deaths triumphantly on corroborated survivor calculations made from villager memories of villager losses. The missing Arab soldiers or irregulars seemed to have disappeared from calculation. [There isn't even a minus-one for the alleged Yugoslav Muslim one attacker years later reported finding (note 32).] As if they were never there. . .
Nobody Else Saw Them
In any event, the ZOA report otherwise indicates there is no independent contemporary corroboration of foreign forces in the village at the time of attack. An Israeli Labor government pamphlet or two a generation later say there were some present but it is not attributed to a non-Lehi non-Irgun primary source observer (an Arab survivor statement therein – presuming its reliability — only refers to hostile fire from the "population") (notes 110-115). Government pamphlets tell stories for any number of reasons, so it hardly counts as evidence any more than a Syrian government pamphlet asserting rapes and mutilations at Deir Yassin. ***The most important thing to note is that of the non-Irgun-Lehi people on the scene at some point, or reported on the scene, there is not a single person who reports the presence of foreign forces either as fighters, prisoners, or bodies.*** No Arab survivors are quoted to state this, no Haganah observer of the battle and its aftermath, like Mordechai Gihon who provided cover fire and watched for foreign troop movements (note 43), and even counted bodies that afternoon (note 82), recalls them, nor Meir Pa'il or his reported mystery photographer, no post-battle assessment by Haganah is cited to say this, no reports come from Yona Ben-Sasson in Givat Shaul who interacted with prisoners (note 58), nor Yeshurun Schiff, nor Shlomo Havilov, nor Yehoshua Arieli or any other reported there (note 52). The Haganah troops who finally captured the village (note 44, 46) are not quoted reporting foreign forces in what is alleged to have been an hour-long confrontation. All this is especially strange when one considers how important movements of foreign troops are to the main Jewish army. The ZOA report confirms this importance as it cites regular Haganah observations of troop movements in the area (notes 19-27).
Troop Movements: Passing Through
The ZOA report does quote an observation "shortly before" the Deir Yassin attack (a day? a week? hours?) stating that numerous armed men were passing from Ein Kerem to Deir Yassin and only a few returned. Some appeared to be soldiers in Iraqi uniform. (note 26) Since we are mysteriously not told when this occurred and it is based on a recent recollection of Mordechai Gihon rather than a contemporary report (note 26), it does not appear to have been of much contemporary significance. The ZOA report reveals though not directly is that Deir Yassin was a path THROUGH which people moved to the major road and the larger battles. [Deir Yassin was between Ein Kerem and the critical highway. The report makes note of a pass or road from Ein Kerem to Deir Yassin on which people could travel (note 43)]. Further, the ZOA report reveals there was battle in Motza (which was nearby (note 18) going on at the same time as Deir Yassin (note 44, 45). In fact the Haganah who assisted at Deir Yassin would come from there (note 44). So there remains no independent contemporary evidence that there were fighters other than armed villagers in the town at the time of attack on April 9. All we have are armed people whose presence in Deir Yassin seems to not evoke much contemporary concern.
Useful Gathering Place
One report indicates that apparently foreign Arab soldiers had come through Deir Yassin a few days earlier on the way to Motza and were harassing the highway (note 22 ). The information, the ZOA tells us, came originally from Haganah intelligence, not scouts, and described what had been happening IN Deir Yassin (note 22), a "gathering". Now one could suppose that since the mukhtar was a Haganah informant, and a Haganah agent could travel into Deir Yassin (note 20), that perhaps Deir Yassin was the source of the information and the passage of troops through there was preferable to other places. Finally, a "gathering" suggests something that is "ad hoc" where people meet from elsewhere and not where they are based. The descriptions of a gathering is followed by people LEAVING (note 22).
No Evidence of Contemporary Concern
In any event, the ZOA report cites no evidence that such movements was of concern for the battle of Deir Yassin (e.g. last minute reports to Irgun-Lehi). Without more all we have is just another troop movement through one of many villages near the highway at unclear times in a battle area. So these movements appear part of larger activity while no contemporary concern is revealed about the presence of foreign troops in Deir Yassin.
Foreign Troop Report Would Have Existed
In fact, given Haganah accessibility, would there not have been a contemporary report or recollection of someone saying as the attack was planned: "This town is a base crawling with armed bands and foreign soldiers in fighting positions. . ."? There is only a report of large numbers of foreign soldiers in the previous month but no indication that they remained or indication of concern about it at the time the attack was planned (note 19). In any event, if the Haganah had access, it is likely to have been because an armed foreign presence was only transient.
No Physical Evidence of Foreign Troops
The ZOA report also reveals no corroborating physical evidence of foreign soldiers. No bodies of foreign troops are reported by the Red Cross observer (note 65), nor by Dr. Engel who is cited favorably (note 66). Yehoshua Arieli and Yair Tsaban who buried bodies (note 68) are not quoted as saying, "Well, we found a few Iraqis [or other soldiers]." One Iraqi alleged by an attacker to have been present is reported dressed in similar khaki to the attackers (note 31). Yet there are no reported naked bodies from the attackers helping themselves to a useful or tradable war item. Unless we are to believe they dressed them in other clothes for burial. Further, the Irgun and Lehi were underground forces and if there were dead Iraqis of officer rank with uniforms and, as noted in the report they have an Arabic speaking Iraqi as a member (note 8), the advantages of keeping the clothes for infiltration purposes are obvious. Yet there are not even recollections, much less outside corroboration, of the fate of the bodies, uniforms, or any other physical evidence. And while the report attempts to show how well armed the village was, there is only a discussion of ammunition found in the village (note 34, 35). There is curiously no reference to finding or trading regular issue military firearms (even by the attackers).
Once again, there is the problem of the photographs (see #2). The photos of the incident in the Israeli archives might clear all this up. Where is the call for release?
The extensive lack of corroboration and the self-servingness of the claim as justification for the alleged combat that resulted in the civilian deaths, or to support veteran's benefits (see #1) is sufficient to conclude the that the claim of outside forces remains wholly unconfirmed. Yet another reason found in the ZOA report argues this. The witness claims are of incredibly low credibility, even aside from their self-servingness. The reports are from interviews decades after the incident and massacre charge and not nearly contemporary (notes 31-35). One dramatic attacker account has a trained Arab soldier waiting until he is over a wall before he fires at shot even though he had just been face to face with his intended victim (note 33). Then it takes a sniper on a rooftop to identify the man as an Iraqi officer even though the narrator was face to face (note 33 ).
Another self-serving account tells of a Yugoslavian Muslim soldier among the dead. He supposedly has on him an identification showing him to be a former member of the Bosnian Nazi S.S. (note 32). It seems odd that a former Nazi collaborator would carry written proof of this with him across the Eastern Mediterranean after World War II and into a British jurisdiction. And then bring it to a place where he might be captured by armed Jews many of whom are refugees and survivors from Nazi Europe.
Still another self-serving account has an Arab soldier dressed in khaki who is almost indistinguishable from the attackers. Suddenly the soldier turns around and shoots him in the leg. The attacker then sees the man was an Iraqi soldier (note 31). How he is able to identify the man's precise nationality while taking a bullet in the leg is not explained.
Additionally, we do not learn even from attacker recollection of any Iraqi or foreign soldier casualties or prisoners ever separately counted or recorded, something that probably would have been easy (it is reported that they wore military clothes) and important to do and it is clear that attacker and Haganah personnel made some kind of body count (notes 81-83). This absence is surprising as one alleged soldier body is reported carefully inspected-–the alleged Yugoslav Muslim with the Nazi identification. But no separate casualty counts or contemporary records to this day.
Curious Lack of Recrimination
Interestingly, ZOA presents us with telling testimony of the Jerusalem Irgun commander at a benefits hearing for a comrade's military pension. This testimony raises some questions regarding the alleged Arab soldier fortress that ZOA says Deir Yassin was. In the hearing, the claimant needed to help establish that Deir Yassin was a military action in order for a veteran of the battle to qualify for veteran's benefits. We are then presented with commander Rana'an's 1952 recollection of his own pique at apparent ridicule by the Haganah commander for poor performance in taking Deir Yassin. But his pique is only expressed by a sarcastic comment to the effect of "is that why you called me here?" At no point do we hear him angrily reply, "My God, there's a nest of Iraqis and Bosnians! We've had to go through civilians to get to them" (note 45). Further we note that the ZOA has the protocols of that hearing (Introduction) and it has not chosen to offer in its report any statement from that formal military proceeding regarding fighting foreign troops. Such a statement would have been more credible sworn (one assumes) testimony subject to cross-examination and closer in time to the attack. But the only Irgun-Lehi direct statements are the much later dramatic anecdotes, e.g., Milstein or Jabotinsky Archives or later sources (nns. 31-40).
The claim of Iraqi and other troops present in Deir Yassin remains uncorroborated and unestablished.
9) The ZOA confirms that the initial attack by Irgun-Lehi failed in certain respects, viz. to effectively give loudspeaker warning to villagers, and to subdue the village.
The loudspeaker warning the residents to flee got stuck and may not have been heard. All morning fighting went on [though perhaps not in the way ZOA claims, see #14, below] and but the Irgun-Lehi forces were not able to subdue the village (notes 44, 46). The village resistance proved quite difficult for them (note 42). [A conventional source—not cited for this purpose by the ZOA report—Collins and Lapierre, O Jerusalem, p. 274, sarcastically notes that "no one seemed to have imagined that it might be considerably more difficult to conquer a village than it was to toss a bomb into an unarmed crowd waiting for a bus."] For a period, refugees from the village were fired upon by a Haganah unit blocking their escape during the latter's early morning attempt to block armed men from neighboring villages to come to the assistance of Deir Yassin (note 43).
10) The ZOA report confirms that the attackers had to let the Haganah come and capture the town.
The attackers eventually turned to the Haganah at about late morning for help. Haganah fighters entered with small artillery, extricated wounded attackers, and quickly and efficiently conquered the remainder of the village (note 44).
11) The ZOA report reveals the village was now turned over to terrorists who had been frustrated, frightened, humiliated in front of their rivals, killed and injured by the village defense.
The village was then left to the hands of terrorists to "mop up" (note 45) who, as discussed above, even prior to the long deadly fight had contemplations of massacre (see #1). And, as the ZOA notes, they had suffered fatal and other casualties at the hands of the village defense. Further, the attackers were left open to ridicule. In fact, the ZOA reports the recollection of the Irgun commander that Haganah commander Shaltiel did ridicule him saying the Irgun-Lehi forces had taken on a job too big for them (note 45). Although this happened elsewhere than the battlefield and there is no report of ridicule from the Haganah on the scene, nonetheless, it is uncontradicted by the ZOA that the attackers were in a position to be subject to Haganah ridicule, in that this was the attackers first regular operation, and their performance was shown up by their rivals. "They achieved in one hour," a Lehi member recalled, "what we could not accomplish in several hours. They had good weapons and they had battle experience." (note 46). As the ZOA report notes in its Introduction, although they were on the same side of the war, the Haganah and the Irgun-Lehi were political and military competitors in the same community.
The village of Deir Yassin had caused these physical and psychological injuries to the terrorists, people as noted above—and by the ZOA report—with a record of premeditated civilian slaughter and retaliating lethally against prisoners (see #s 3-6, above). These people then obtain full control of the village under the circumstances described above. Thereafter, scores of its residents are seen dead in terrible carnage. The ZOA report attempts to argue that the villagers were not deliberately killed and implies only a dishonest, foolish, or careless historian could conclude there was a massacre.
12) The ZOA confirms that as early as the afternoon of the battle, and as late as two days later, the attacker-controlled village is a scene of terrible carnage—a mass of at least 100 dead bodies, including large numbers of women and children, and a small number of untended wounded. It is not questioned that the attackers actions were the primary cause of their deaths.
As the ZOA report notes about two days after these groups took over fully, a Jewish doctor from Magen David Adom working with the Red Cross representative came to Deir Yassin, still in the hands of the Irgun-Lehi. Villagers of Deir Yassin were still all around, he sees approximately 100 of them still inside houses—dead men, women, and children, a sight he calls "terrible." Burial of other bodies is underway. (note 66) There is a report of some still untreated wounded, undenied by the ZOA report (note 65).
Haganah observer Mordechai Gihon sees large numbers of bodies (he counted 150) on the afternoon of the battle (note 83). The ZOA report makes and cites no claim that the casualties were primarily or especially the result of Arab firing; there is no denial that the attackers caused the deaths of the bodies. (The Haganah had used mortars and threw hand grenades in some houses—it does not say that the houses were occupied—but no casualties are reported (note 46). There is reference to "crossfire" but it is not detailed and is speculative (note 69). In fact, the ZOA report details a morning battle during which they claim the civilians were killed (instead of a post-takeover massacre) in order to describe how Irgun-Lehi unintentional or necessary actions caused civilians to die in the houses and how civilians and fighters could be confused resulting in civilian deaths generally (notes 37-42).
13) Casualty figures are inconsistent and in some areas absent in the ZOA report which nonetheless confirms that while the attackers claim the deaths resulted unintentionally from a hard-fought battle, and not a systematic massacre, the best casualty figures indicate that almost 90% of civilians "unintentionally" hit by or because of Irgun-Lehi firepower ended up dead (three times the lethal accuracy of fire at such massacres as Jonesboro and the Texas Tower; only 9% less than Lidice, about equal to Hadassah Hospital, and 5% deadlier than fire at Wounded Knee), meanwhile "intense firepower" directed at the attackers advancing closer scored only 10% lethal hits. About 50 prisoners are unaccounted for, and a deferentially high estimate of the alleged Arab fighters killed yields a 33% civilian to fighter death ratio, still twice the false civilian to fighter casualty rate that set off suspicious inquiries about causes of civilian deaths at My Lai.
Vague and Evasive Figures
The ZOA report's casualty and post-battle figures are vague and, frankly, evasive and inconsistent. It gives no estimate of wounded, generally, and no tabulation of military versus civilian prisoners, wounded, or dead, despite the alleged presence of foreign forces. Then, it quotes favorably the 12 wounded in the Bir Zeit University survivor study (91). Then, in one set of reports based upon Irgun-Lehi sources, the ZOA reveals there were 40 "prisoners" after the morning battle who were sent to a Lehi camp and given food and water until late afternoon (note 47). And there is no report of any medical care needed or given. And as this is argued by the ZOA in support of decent treatment of prisoners, one would assume that there were no seriously injured. Then a "small number" of survivors turn up in the houses and are ultimately sent "towards" Arab Jerusalem for professedly "humanitarian" reasons to bring the survivors to an Arab area [no hospital is mentioned, or Red Cross or Magen David (note 47)]. Again, apparently, no urgent medical attention was needed or sought. So from this account that the ZOA presents sympathetically, there are no seriously wounded reported by Irgun-Lehi or anyone else.
But then there they are in the credible Bir Zeit report. Then three turn up in the village two days after the attack with the Red Cross representative in an uncontradicted portion of his report (note 65). And the prisoner figures as discussed below leave about 50 prisoners who disappear from the account. Meanwhile, actual body counts recalled from the scene vary as much as 70 (notes 81-83).
These absences and inconsistencies suggest real evasiveness on the issue of how Arabs suffered and died in Deir Yassin. The surviving villagers and precisely what happened to them, the alleged Arab fighters who caused the whole difficulty and their ultimate disposition, and the disposition of wounded, probably the most pressing post-battle "humanitarian" (note 47) concern, are unquantified. Just what happened after the battle? Why are captives called "prisoners" and counted in the morning as they are taken in the battle allegedly but suddenly "survivors of the battle" in a "small number" in the afternoon (note 47)? And aren't these survivors wounded, or very likely to be? Why are there no contemporary records of casualties by the attackers offered? And, if they were they not made, why not? And again, why are helpful photos still secreted away by a government run by Menachem Begin's party (see #2, above)?.
Mysteriously Low Number of Wounded: Likely A Massacre
The reasons for this evasiveness about wounded even after 50 years of combined recollection is probably because there were only a few. The ZOA report gives its best credence (correctly, almost certainly) to the Bir Zeit study which cites 12 wounded villagers. But why this evasiveness and why this low figure?
The reason so few wounded existed in proportion to killed is simple-–when you commit a massacre the goal is to make the victims dead not leave them wounded. They can be shot point blank and repeatedly. There is often time to go back and shoot the wounded. The massacre stops when someone intervenes (as in My Lai), or the killers run out of energy (Wounded Knee); meanwhile a small number of wounded might hide leaving some alive (Wounded Knee, My Lai), or an intervention or distraction might save them (Hadassah Hospital). In a true chaotic battle, wounded are left everywhere. The only battle situation where few wounded are left (proportionate to dead) are take-no-prisoners battles like the Alamo which are massacres of a sort. Entering Deir Yassin and shooting every living thing is a massacre. But the ZOA tells us that prisoners were taken during morning fighting. This suggests that the deaths of those civilians who died really came sometime between late morning after a much less bloody battle won readily by the Haganah and the afternoon when Mordechai Gihon sees the bodies (note 83). Interestingly, Irgun commander Ra'naan makes a point in later official testimony to place himself outside Deir Yassin while early afternoon "mopping up" is underway (note 45).
Extremely Lethal Fire For Unintentional
And if we rely on the count accepted by the most authoritative by the ZOA, the Bir Zeit University there is a figure of 107 dead and 12 wounded, a ratio of almost nine killed to one wounded. This is a damning proportion. According to the ZOA's argument, they were killed unintentionally by an inexperienced fighting force armed with bad weapons, who set off explosives in doorways while under heavy fire from trained soldiers, who inflicted varying degrees of collapse of stone houses leaving "killed or wounded" who saw women are running around the battle picking weapons off fighters who are reported "wounded," and who fought with sufficient restraint to accept surrenders (note 41). The attackers would throw hand grenades fearfully into houses, while a great part of a population of 750 (note 2) tries to escape with no clear announcement of where to go or what was happening, the refugees partly blocked for part of the morning.
And yet, in this chaos of blind grenade throwing, door explosions on stone houses withering fire from leonine Arabs, we are to believe that armed with bad weapons, a "green" fighting force that needs to call in help just to finish the job manages to score direct fatal hits 9 times as often as they score an indirect hit. On people they did not intend to hit! Meanwhile, the attackers themselves are being directly shot at by professional soldiers or just plain villagers "who excelled at accurate sniping" (note 36). The sniping defenders are shooting from stone houses with iron doors (note 39) at forces approaching and undoubtedly the village defenders intend to make the most effective hits possible. [The ZOA report makes reference to the Arab fighters' "massive, nearly overwhelming, firepower." (note 103)]. But, strangely, these professional firepower-laden supersnipers of Fortress Deir Yassin only manage to kill 4 battle-inexperienced surprise-abandoning house-storming advancing-into-fire attackers while wounding "several dozen more" according to the ZOA. If we assume several means three (a conservative estimate of "several") then we have a ratio of 1 killed to 9 wounded (4 to 36 using ZOA figures only), the very inverse of the Deir Yassin civilian casualties-–a mere 10% deadly accuracy. Now if that 10% alone is called "intense firepower" (note 36) (even "murderous fire"–-note 110) and "accurate [obviously deliberate] sniping", what could we possibly call the kind of fire that slaughtered the villagers with 90% efficiency? Hand grenades with explosive power so accurate that its shrapnel went right for vital organs 9 times out of 10 [but left limbs intact (note 78)]? Entering a house shooting, perhaps under fire with bad weapons and low ammunition (notes 31-42), yet kills civilians in a house with far greater efficiency than the allegedly well armed skilled snipers one is advancing against. And their attacks of mini-mass destruction leave the dead bodies still inside recognizable houses (note 66) and bodies with "limbs intact" (note 78) and in sufficient condition that they can be examined for rape or mutilation (note 75-78).
This is beyond belief. The truth is again apparent: the villagers were slaughtered by murderous and deliberate fire in which the attackers had time to carefully aim, and if necessary, double check to make sure most of their victims did not survive.
Other Massacres Let us look at different casualty ratios to test this. In the intentional no-return-fire massacres at Jonesboro Arkansas and the Texas Tower killer Charles Whitman the ratios of killed to wounded is only about 33%. At Amritsar in 1919, where British troops fired unopposed intentionally directly into a huge crowd, the rate of killed to wounded was about 25%, less than one-third of Deir Yassin. On the other hand, the Arab massacre of a Jewish medical and military going to Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus shortly after Deir Yassin reveals the same lethal accuracy figure of about 90% of casualties dead—75 dead, 6 wounded. That was clearly an attempt to massacre all prisoners in an ambush.
Lidice is cited by ZOA as a massacre. The ratio of killed is to wounded there appears to be 100%, only 10 percentage points more lethally effective than Deir Yassin. There are reports of wounded survivors at My Lai (CBS, "60 Minutes" March 29, 1998) and hard figures appear hard to come by but 500 are reported dead, so My Lai appears to be 99%. Wounded Knee appears to have had an 85% killed to wounded ratio. Deir Yassin is thus closer to Lidice, My Lai, and Hadassah Hospital than even to Amritsar, Jonesboro, or the "Bloody Sunday" massacre of 1920 Dublin, when British troops fired into a crowd at a Gaelic Football match (figures of casualties 12 dead about 60 injured or a killed to injured percentage of 17%).
The reason this ratio is, as noted, important is that intentional killers by definition eliminate the wounded until they stop or are stopped. (The existence of prisoners does not conflict with this, a massacre may stop or as in Lidice, only some are selected for slaughter, or only some fighters in some areas commit the slaughter.) It thus appears from the ZOA report information that the villager dead were mostly systematically slaughtered and that the combat story is an excuse after the fact. More likely, the ZOA report gives rise to the conclusion that morning fighting was ineffective (the attackers taking some casualties) and after the Haganah secured the village the Irgun-Lehi fighters decided—out of pique, ideology, temperament, fear, or bravado, or some combination of these (emotions all arguable from evidence in the ZOA report, see # 11, above)—to slaughter many captive civilians. The numbers say it all.
The Vanishing Prisoners
On one page it is asserted baldly that 100 prisoners were taken by the end of the day (note 42). Then a page or so later it says that 40 were held by late morning (note 47). Then it says "a small number of survivors" were found later and sent through Jerusalem (note 47). Assuming a small number is about the number of reported wounded-–12—then there are 48 or so prisoners who simply disappear. At least that's what the ZOA report indicates. What happened to them? We are not told. [We do hear of only three surviving wounded being turned over to the Red Cross two days later (note 65)]. Again, the ZOA report is maddeningly inconsistent and evasive about the fate of captives. Why?
Fighters to Civilians: One Suggestive Ratio
The figure-shy ZOA report does not tell us how many of its alleged outside fighters existed. But let us assume half the dead villagers were fighters-–say about 50 and let's add to that the largest body count-–150 by Mordechai Gihon (note 83). De Reynier does not appear to give a body count of his own calculation (note 65)—and assume that the excess over civilian dead are all outside fighters. For ease of numbers let us assume therefore that 50 dead civilians and twice as many alleged fighters were killed. That vastly overgenerous estimate-–and almost certainly false as such a high rate of fighter death, with captured weapons, etc., would have been noted—means 33% of the reported dead would be civilians. Or one dead civilian for two dead fighters.
This may not strike the reader as odd. But to illustrate the military significance, a comparison is in order. In village fighting in Vietnam, on one occasion. American soldiers in the field reported 20 civilians dead in an engagement in which they reported about 120 enemy fighters dead (about 15%). That ratio of only about HALF the Deir Yassin civilian casualty rate in this fighter-exaggerated ratio calculation caused the unit's headquarters to get suspicious of evasiveness and nervous about the high number and demand an explanation of civilian casualties; it later resulted in a special order for safeguarding non-combatants. The soldiers then explained that the civilians got caught up in heavy fighting ("Enemy units had broken all contact with friendly forces by infiltrating with civilians leaving the area . . . "). Later it turned out that this disturbing ratio of civilians to fighters was indeed false (as in our example), the infiltrating with civilians was a ruse, and that there was reason for suspicion. The soldiers had overreported fighter casualties and underreported civilian casualties. Eventually, the whole situation was investigated and several were court-martialed for their action in that village, My Lai 4. (Hersh, pp. 131-167)
If we take ACTUAL reported figures by those trying to deny a massacre at Deir Yassin, Menachem Begin's body count—130-–and assume 107 dead villagers, and let's make 50 or so of the villagers fighters again in order to grant the benefit of the doubt, giving us about 75 fighter dead and 55 civilians dead. Then the civilian to fighter percentage is a little over 40%, almost three times the ratio that caused red flags about false figures, false reports, and civilian slaughter at My Lai. The difference is that at My Lai figures were concocted. At Deir Yassin, the attackers and even their apologists are noticeably evasive instead. The battle field accounts in ZOA avoid wounded figures and alleged fighter figures, while giving precise captured bullet counts (notes 31-42); however in a later discussion of deaths based on credible survivor reports, the villager wounded figure emerges as a related finding supported by the same credible evidence in the ZOA report (note 91). The author(s) of that separate section probably did not realize he/she was giving a blessing to the most damning and well-corroborated single piece of evidence demonstrating a deliberate massacre at Deir Yassin possibly ever published in English. And a piece of information the authors of the battlefield account in the ZOA report seem at pains to evade.
The killed-wounded casualty figures and fighter-civilian figures reveal rates of slaughter consistent with those seen in major massacres. The numbers tell more than mere testimony does. And that explains the evasiveness and inconsistencies in battlefield casualty information. The numbers do not add up to anything but a systematic deliberate slaughter of captive men, women, and children. And that is indeed something to be evasive about. Enough to keep photos of the scene out of the public eye for 50 years and to silently accept that while claiming to want to prove innocence (see #2).
[Sources for massacres mentioned in this section include Seymour Hersh's CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast of March 29, 1998, (re: My Lai); Encyclopedia Britannica "Amritsar Massacre"; Coogan, Tim Pat, Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland (re: Bloody Sunday, Dublin 1920); (re: Wounded Knee); Collins/Lapierre, O Jerusalem (re: Hadassah Hospital-Mt. Scopus); (re: Lidice); Lavergne, (re: Texas Tower); CNN News, April 1, 1998 (re: Jonesboro).]
14) The ZOA report fails to find any independent corroboration for the attacker's explanation of the deaths as caused by rough and chaotic close-in house-to-house fighting on the morning of the battle.
Irgun and Lehi claims that the large number of civilian dead resulted from the April 9, 1997 morning's heavy house-to-house fighting involving mixed-together and sometimes dressed-alike fighters and civilians which required fast and aggressive firepower are substantiated only by self-serving assertion members of those groups. There is no testimony from surviving Arab eyewitnesses to this. There are no reports by Haganah people on the scene that confirm this, including those who came in to finish the job. Mordechai Gihon of Haganah observed the battle until 8:30 a.m. (note 43) In all the ZOA report, several Haganah people are reported as being on the scene at various times in the day. ***Not a single person on the scene other than those of the attacking groups trying to deny a massacre is cited as evidence of casualties to Arabs inflicted in deadly house-to-house fighting.*** After fifty years, would not one Haganah soldier who witnessed the scene-–or had been part of the battle—have said at some point: "I was there and while I don't like those s.o.b.'s personally or politically I could see they were beginners faced with one hell of a fight, they didn't slaughter innocent people deliberately" or "I saw the blown up houses, the enemy forces lying dead everywhere, the dead bodies were clearly bad luck"? Isn't this especially likely when the Deir Yassin incident has been used to "blacken" the name of the State both groups fought to build (ZOA Introduction)? Would not some report from the time reflect this, or quote the Haganah troops who finished the battle as saying they noticed the bodies from the morning battle? But the ZOA has offered none of this. After fifty years?
The ZOA report quotes an alleged survivor report translated from Arabic and cited second-hand without context in an Israeli government pamphlet a generation later. He is alleged to have told a Jordanian newspaper on the 5th anniversary of the incident: "The Jews never intended to harm the population of the village, but were forced to do so after they encountered fire from the population, which killed the Irgun commander." This does not describe house-to-house fighting and it seems also to indicate no outside forces were present. Without context, and lacking in linguistic precision it tells only that the observer saw the population "harmed" and concluded that the "Jews" had not originally intended to do so but in some way felt "forced to do so" because of fire from the population that killed someone he presumed to be the "Irgun commander." (Notice again this says fire came from the "population," not "soldiers" or other "fighters.") In context the statement might read: "The Jews came in the morning hoping that the population would all run away from its gunfire and loudspeaker so they would not be forced to fight. The Jews never intended to harm the population but were forced to do so when they encountered fire from the population, which killed the Irgun commander. Then, their anger [or commanders] forced them to shoot everybody they found after we surrendered." This is speculation but it is not inconsistent and the original quote gives us no description of what actually happened. So it is not a denial of a massacre, nor is it particularly reliable, nor is it confirmation of rough house-to-house fighting (note 110).
Haganah sources from their intervention do not say how easy or difficult it was or the nature and tenacity of the resistance. They do say they had to eliminate sources of gunfire to retrieve wounded, the central problem of every battle including police standoffs with a drunken ex-husbands. They also say they threw grenades in some houses, we are not told how many or whether this was a precautionary measure after civilians were removed or the brief overcoming of resistance in houses from which civilians had been evacuated by the fighters or Haganah. (note 44, 46) Again, no confirmation of a grueling morning-long slow conquest of most of the village.
The casualty numbers are also inconsistent with fighting described as consisting of exploding doors, partially collapsed roofs, wild shooting, wounded fighters on the ground, killed and wounded in the houses, hand grenades in windows, friendly fire hitting Irgun men, indistinguishable figures running around, "murderous" Arab fire, and finally a mortar assault. (notes 31-46, 110) In a village of 700 or more, with escape routes unclear because of loudspeaker failure and attackers coming from two direction, is it really credible that there are only 12 villagers wounded-–two percent of the population?
That is the figure cited as most credible by the ZOA report (see # 13 above). And if we were to count the larger enumeration of two inconsistent numbers of "prisoners" in the ZOA report as all "wounded," that would be 100 (see #13 above for a fuller treatment of the evasive and confusing casualty and prisoner numbers), a more reasonable possibility for house-to-house fighting but the ZOA report does not claim that, in fact it makes little mention of calculation or treatment of wounded. But since prisoners are alleged to have been not mistreated and no reports of prisoner medical assistance is reported (a perfect example of proper prisoner treatment), we can proceed as in #13 on that figure. "A small number" of survivors are reported who are allegedly given "humanitarian consideration." That-–and a report of three wounded two days later—is the closest we get to a count of wounded.
Can we accept from that almost certainly accurate or near accurate figure of only 12 wounded that morning long chaotic bloody house-to-house advances against soldiers or even villagers took place? Is this credible when the attackers who were out in the open undergoing direct "murderous" fire from Arabs fighting like "lions" received (according to ZOA) "several dozen" (let's say 36) wounded (note 36)? The answer that 107 civilians are dead only enhances the question, if they are alleged to have been killed unintentionally. If fighting was that prolonged and severe, would it not have left more wounded? (There are no reported air strikes, heavy artillery bombardment pummelling the villagers to death). Would not bodies of parents shield children from bullets such that they might take a weakened bullet in an extremity? Ricochets would be flying around a village where over 700 confused and frightened people are mainly trying to flee, as women pick up ammunition from "wounded fighters," and "killed or wounded" result from partial house collapses (notes 31-42).
Amidst such severe explosions and firefights, with force and firepower to cause dozens and dozens lay dead, only ***two percent*** of the village, ***twelve***, emerges as surviving significantly hurt, according to ZOA figures. Further, as the ZOA report claims, this was not a "take-no prisoners" action (prisoners were reported taken and the general claim is unintentional death of civilian villagers), yet there is no large number of wounded from where attackers may have withheld part of their fire, or shot recklessly, or half blew up a house. The low numbers of combat injuries of civilians while the attackers themselves suffered at least 36 wounded, according to ZOA, under directly targeted hostile fire strongly indicates that combat was not the way it was claimed. In fact, the low number indicates that few civilians were harmed by combat. Something else left them slaughtered in their homes.
There is also a strange absence of contemporary or near contemporary evidence from the attackers. One revealing example of this absence occurs during Haganah commander Shaltiel's ridicule around midday on April 9, 1948, reported by ZOA from the testimony of the Haganah commander. Surely, the Irgun commander would have reported responding furiously to such ridicule in light of the heavy fighting he encountered. And would Shaltiel have ridiculed poor performance of fellow Jews who had gone through a village clearing out foreign soldiers in frontal house assaults under hostile fire, especially when he is described as being in earnest about offering help? (note 45) This more strongly indicates that the fighting may have been less dramatic-–and less successful—than ZOA claims.
Finally, we should note that the testimonies of Arabs fighting like lions and excelling at sniping, and civilian women being involved in the battle are from Reuven Greenberg and Yehoshua Gorodenchik (notes 36-37). Both are described in the same report as less than credible! (notes 73, 42) It appears that Greenberg, said to be involved in "criminal" activities and a teller of tales, is trying to cover-up a massacre and Gorodenchik, who is called "confused," is trying to rationalize one.
15) The ZOA report finds that there is no non-Irgun non-Lehi eyewitness or person on the immediate scene who corroborates a massacre denial.
***No independent observer on the scene is quoted with expressing any skepticism that a massacre occurred (there is only evidence of conditions of those bodies the observers were able to see as indicating no further atrocities like rape or mutilation (notes 75-78). None of the Haganah men on the scene-–including Yeshurun Schiff, Yehoshua Arieli, Yair Tsaban, Shlomo Havilov, Mordechai Gihon-–no Arab survivor, none of the doctors (notes 75-78), not the Red Cross (note 65).*** One observer, Yona Ben-Sasson is quoted without context of time or place that [as far as he knew] he believed he talked some "hotheads" [ZOA words-–not described as a direct quote] out of slaughtering prisoners but this only reveals that some massacre or part thereof was contemplated presumably by Irgun-Lehi members and they told the Haganah man they changed their mind, and Ben-Sasson did not see it happen (note 58).
16) The ZOA report indicates on the other hand that there are many persons who claim to have been present and declared that a massacre has taken place, while some statements from attackers on the scene have been refuted as false.
There are persons who claim to have seen a massacre take place exist, these include Arab survivors and at least one Jewish Haganah member. Arab survivor statements and recollection appear little challenged for factual inconsistency or even addressed. Of their alleged testimony, one affirms that the population was harmed as some kind of response to fire from the population into the Irgun which killed their commander (note 110). Another male survivor expresses merely his personal opinion that members of the village were not raped and that the issue had not been discussed among the survivors that he has heard but the quote does not discuss the question of massacre (note 77). Yet another is cited-–and challenged (to be addressed below)—as surviving the execution of his family and a group of adults. Other survivors are cited generally.
British Officer's Credibility
In one place, second and third hand survivor reports and rumors of allegations of extra atrocities (rapes and mutilations) are dismissed simply by merely characterizing them argumentatively-–without evidence-–as "wild allegations" (note 148). Another such third party report is that of the British investigator, Richard Catling, made after interviewing survivors a few days after the incident (note 80). He is alleged by the ZOA to be lacking in credibility because he was a victim of the Irgun's violent anti-British actions and a British imperial agent who had been opposed and politically defeated by them (note 79). The claim to bias has some clear validity.
Still, a look at what the ZOA reveals about him reveals his credibility is far from totally shattered. First, the British administration was expiring (note 79) and so the political war could be said to be over. Second, he is revealed to be quite candid a character, he freely admits-–when he apparently does not have to-–beating up an Irgun prisoner that he believed killed a friend and colleague (note 79). Even more so, the text of his report reveals that he is professionally circumspect in his assessment. Although he makes conclusory statements, he states openly his methods of investigation, including the "great coaxing" he used on shy Arab village women 50 years ago to get them to open up on issues like sexual assault, traumatic to discuss for even the most modern feminist (note 80).
The ZOA report authors appear to find something sinister in a male British police officer needing to use great coaxing in interviews of possible female Arab villager rape or violence victims (notes 80-81). [In the published source to which we are referred by the ZOA report, Catling indicates that the women broke into hysteria when they would relate their experiences (Collins/Lapierre p. 273).] Additionally, Catling is quite cautious yet candid. Although he writes conclusions, he relates one account as "one story is current concerning a case where a young girl was literally torn in two" (note 80). Now, had he been interested in fabrication, he would have entirely avoided questionable stories like this or asserted them more conclusively rather than as a rumor offered with detached skepticism. [Also, the ZOA report leaves out his personal observation of an old woman, "who gave her age as 106," whom he observed as having been severely beaten with rifle butts. (Collins/Lapierre p. 273.) Had he just wanted to give credibility to any brutality claim he could have left out the credibility-damaging claim of age instead of reporting it and doing so with noticeable skepticism.] Catling does not appear to have acted in a way that shows his likely biases have rendered him a flawed investigator.
In any event, much of Catling's report available to us is his conclusion and summary of what he heard or even what the survivors' themselves considered rumors. One of the few direct Arab survivor quotes the ZOA uses and challenges is from a surviving child via Catling's report through Collins and Lapierre (note 148). In the quote the child reports that his family was lined up against a wall and shot but that most of the children survived because they hid behind their parents. The ZOA report questions the credibility of that statement by asking why it would be that the killers would have refrained from killing the children after the first volley of bullets. Apparently the ZOA authors do not know the meaning of the word "hid" which is the past tense of "hide". Further, any general knowledge of massacres and application of common sense reveals survivors who are hidden or protected via a pile of bodies (example, survivors of My Lai, CBS "60 Minutes", March 27, 1998). Finally, we note that the child CONCLUDES why he and others survived, not OBSERVES. For all we know, the killers were distracted by another event or someone had an attack of conscience.
Of the apparent 700 or so Arabs (figures are inconsistent) who were in the village throughout much or all of the attack day, there is no serious attempt by the ZOA to individually analyze statements from them to refute them. Clearly when one is trying to "debunk" a charge, one has to discredit all the claimed eyewitnesses. The ZOA report admits it has reviewed a Palestinian University [Bir Zeit] study which contains a report of the Deir Yassin incident and that the study derives its information about Deir Yassin and other villages from people who lived there (notes 88-91). One is hard pressed to know why this study is not dissected – or even quoted—for the massacre claims of survivors who are the ultimate chief witnesses for the allegation of massacre. Is being Arab enough to make them not credible? (A good illustration of the Holocaust revisionist style of the ZOA report: witnesses and victims are discredited simply for being who they are ethnically.) In fact, the ZOA report cites independently corroborated consistency among survivors in recollections of actual casualties even across two generations (notes 87-91). This suggests that the ZOA actually seems to regard the survivors as more credible than the official Irgun on the subject of Deir Yassin because the latter's spokesman knowing he was lying concocted the incorrect death figure of 254 the use of which in subsequent literature gives the ZOA apoplexy (see #1 and note 153). Yet their testimony, available to ZOA in the Bir Zeit report, is not offered for refutation. Even worse, there is not even an explanation for why survivor accounts are not systematically examined or why they are categorically rejected. Could it because the accounts are disturbingly consistent and consistently disturbing?
General survivor credibility is briefly questioned in ZOA by noting that authors Collins and Lapierre refused to use Arab survivors out of their "fear that perhaps over the years survivors' accounts . . . might have been altered" to match subsequent propaganda excesses (note 150). The ZOA report then concludes astonishingly by saying that "in other words, even Collins and Lapierre found the survivors' accounts to be less than reliable." Actually Collins and Lapierre said nothing of the sort. The statement expresses their own subjective "fear" that "perhaps" there might be exaggerations. [Translation: they don't want to be accused of being Arab propagandists when other sources will do.] The allegation that the authors actually found the statements unreliable is a patent distortion of what they wrote. [Going behind the ZOA report actually clears this instantly. "In any event, " Collins and Lapierre continue, "[the survivors'] accounts related in 1969 amply confirmed the details in the British report." (Collins/Lapierre p. 584).]
Meir Pa'il – Haganah Eyewitness
Meir Pa'il, a Haganah man who claims to be an eyewitness along with an unnamed photographer is challenged for political bias, personal self-interest, and the credibility of details of his accounts. It is claimed he may not even have been there and many people who claim to have known him did not see him there (note 52).
Pa'il's claim is wrongly alleged or implied to have been refuted. First, political bias and personal self-interest are just as easily, in fact, more easily said of the participants who deny the massacre. Pa'il is also said to be the only person who has claimed that prisoners were massacred after the battle (note 57). (This vagueness about "prisoners" remains frustrating – do they mean the villagers, the mysteriously uncounted outside fighters, the village fighters, etc?) In any case, the supposed refutation of that ill-defined claim comes from another man of the Haganah who reports talking some participants (called "hotheads" by ZOA) out of massacring prisoners. As will be noted again elsewhere (see #18, below), this tells us little about what was actually OBSERVED by Ben-Sasson. All we know is that at some point, he spoke to some participants who were planning a massacre of prisoners in a quarry and he believed they did not carry it through. This does not directly contradict Pa'il despite the words of the ZOA report claiming Pa'il's claim was denied by Ben-Sasson (note 58).
One statement of Pa'il's does seem odd. He is reported to have claimed at some point that he witnessed the Irgun-Lehi shooting people in their homes as they lay "sleeping" (note 51). The ZOA report notes the obvious strangeness of people sleeping during a battle. A look at the source, however, indicates that it comes from a secondary Hebrew language article whose title "There was No Massacre" indicates it may have been written to discredit eyewitnesses like Meir Pa'il (note 51 ). Further, it appears it could be a simple misstatement-–"sleeping" for "lying" or a misrendering across languages, or a misspeaking based on an image that he saw mentally-–people in their bedclothes (the attack was early morning and they may not have changed) lying dead perhaps some on their beds, or it conceivably may refer to some incidents at the beginning of the battle around dawn. There is no further explanation of context and with many possible interpretations, it does not amount to serious evidence of falsification.
Other claims of Pa'il do not appear incredible. He is questioned because he says he saw people slaughtered in houses when he does not say he was in the houses (note 51 ). Surely, it is possible to conclude that if you saw soldiers enter a house, see movement inside, perhaps hear screams, gunfire, then watch the soldier leave and find everyone dead, then you saw people massacred in houses. While Pa'il is not quoted as saying this exactly, it is a logical extrapolation of going around a village and seeing killings in houses. (Another good illustration of the Holocaust revisionist style of the ZOA report: would the ZOA dismiss testimonies of killings in gas chambers in Nazi camps because the witnesses were not inside the gas chamber at the time?)
Pa'il is chided for not identifying the photographer who he said was with him. Pa'il has asserted in the past that the photographer is afraid (note 53 ). It does not seem inconsistent to believe that one might be harmed or harassed (by the press alone) for being an eyewitness to a controversial mass murder.
Pa'il's presence at the battle is questioned. This is because many who claimed to have known him do not recall seeing him there (note 52). Yet, Pa'il is not shown anywhere to claim that he encountered any of those named, nor do we see any claim that he was there at the times some of the others listed were there (e.g. Havilov was there overnight (note 52); no claim is reported by Pa'il about staying overnight). All who claim he was not there and could not have been without their knowledge are members of the attacking groups (note 52 ). There is another disagreement about Pa'il's recollections but the contradiction of them comes from another self-serving Irgun-Lehi sources (note 49). There is, again, no direct contradiction of Pa'il's personal observations from non-attacker sources. One claim that testimony from certain Haganah officials (Shaltiel, Meret, Eldad, and Schiff) fails to mention Pa'il tells us nothing as the nature and scope of the testimony but appears to be from the Jabotinsky Archives and not any official proceeding (note 52). For all we know, it was about their haircuts that day, or more seriously, operational plans, pre-planning, strategic assessments or communications in which Pa'il was not involved.
The ZOA report questions Pa'il's credibility because he is alleged to have cited the exaggerated 254 figure of deaths that has become the incorrect conventional wisdom. His source, however, is reported to be the Irgun itself ("the horse's mouth"). (note 86) The ZOA report confirms that the standard falsehood on numbers was originated knowingly by the Irgun commander. (see # 1). ***Apparently, the ZOA report is arguing that Pa'il is not credible because he trusted the Irgun, the people who are denying the massacre.*** It is true that it appears he did not count the bodies himself and that that failure is raised as a question of his being on the scene (note 87). But since Pa'il was a spy of sorts (note 48), there is no reason to assume he would want to be so conspicuous as to go around counting bodies as a hostile witness to a mass murder. In any event, we are not told why he claimed he did not count them so we cannot dismiss his credibility on that basis.
Pa'il is challenged for allegedly saying in 1981 that Deir Yassin was not located on any important route and its strategic value was "zero" (note 50). Assuming the accuracy of the quote in context, it may have been a comment on the timeliness of the attack, meaning he felt that its value was zero at the time of the attack. It is not clear also that Deir Yassin itself was ON an important route-–it was NEAR one (ZOA: "on a HILL that overlooked" (Introduction)-–not a "village which overlooked"—the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway). It thus may have been part of an unimportant route from Ein Kerem to the main road. In other words, there may be a context that explains this. On the other hand, assuming Pa'il's opinion to be a poor military evaluation, there is no prerequisite to be a keen military strategist in order to be a spy-–or a credible eyewitness to mass murder.
Further, the ZOA report does not seem to dispute that Pa'il produced Deir Yassin photos for official Haganah scrutiny (see #2, above). These photos are in the official archives of the government of Israel and are not denied. If Pa'il was not there, what is he doing with authentic photos? And if he got the photos and story from someone else and concocted his own version of the massacre, why admit the existence of a person who could dispute his story? Why not just claim he took his own pictures while there? And after 50 years, there is no report by ZOA that anyone else has taken responsibility for the pictures or that anyone unconnected with Meir Pa'il has been alleged to have taken or provided them.
As noted earlier, the government of Israel has not released these, despite their obvious advantage to whomever's telling the truth. The photos would tend to discredit Pa'il if he is lying and Pa'il was known to be talking publicly in 1981 (see above) when Begin was Prime Minister. But neither he nor the Irgun-Lehi descended political leaders of Israel do not seem to want to confront him with the photos directly. Further, if Meir Pa'il's credibility is in question, his written report could also be released to the public and subject to scrutiny for inconsistent statements and other evidence indicating Pa'il has not been straightforward about what he has witnessed. Again, this has not happened nor has it been called for by the ZOA. What is there to hide?
Finally, it is briefly noted again that the ZOA report reveals that some among the attackers have been shown: to have made deliberate false statements about the scene (e.g. the Irgun Jerusalem commander) (see #1 above), to have been inconsistent in body count (note 82), to have given "confused" testimony (note 42), or to have apparently lied about a cause of Arab death at Deir Yassin and been a teller of false tales (see #1 above, R. Greenberg or note 43).
17) The ZOA report confirms that there is some evidence that some Irgun-Lehi members have privately confessed their participation in cold-bloodedly shooting to death Arab women and children.
Although the ZOA report disdains them, they note two cases of published secondary sources reporting that admissions of deliberate massacre of Arabs at Deir Yassin by veterans of the Irgun and Lehi have been made. In at least one case, even the ZOA report cannot dismiss it out of hand. Journalist Dan Kurzman's book Genesis:1948 is cited as stating that some of the attackers admit that "they lost all restraint and cold-bloodedly shot every Arab they found—man, woman or child." (note 145) The ZOA report concludes that this report of admissions is of questionable credibility because the specific names of those who made such admission are not mentioned and there is no possible prior outside source for such admissions. The report confirms, however, that some, or perhaps most, of Kurzman's 10 Israeli sources were present at Deir Yassin. He clearly had some access to obtain a reliable confession.
As to the damage to credibility of the claim by not naming the ones who admitted the acts, there should be little. For those like the authors of the ZOA report who might need an explanation as to why openly admitting to cold-bloodedly shooting men, women, and children could be a difficulty, here is brief explanation:
1) Shooting men, women, and children in cold blood is usually considered an evil thing, even when done to Arabs, and generally does not result in enhancing one's social status; in fact it subjects one to shame and contempt;
2) It might be seen as a betrayal of comrades-–their reputation, secrets and even government benefits (see #1);
3) It might be seen as helping anti-Israel, anti-Likud, anti-Semitic, or Arab propaganda (see ZOA report "Introduction" and "Conclusion");
4) It might subject one to criminal prosecution in Israel, Britain, the Arab world, or international tribunals for murder or war crimes or even perjury if prior testimony has been given;
5) It might damage one's credibility and reputation in general;
6) It might subject one to personal retaliation or violence.
The ZOA report further argues that Kurzman's book is "fiction" because he supplies detailed dialogue among the combatants and "even claims to know what individuals were thinking at particular moments." If this stylized writing makes a work necessarily fiction, then how to explain this section from the ZOA report arguing the presence (again self-servingly) of foreign troops in Deir Yassin:
"In an alleyway, Lehi soldier Ezra Yachin came face to face with an Arab armed with a rifle. 'Instantly he started to release the bolt. The measure of those fateful seconds! Who would shoot first? Who would survive?'"(note 33)
If novelistic subjective prose discredited a source, then the ZOA report itself is discredited. In any event, Kurzman could be effectively criticized if he was a journalist who had a record of fabricating anonymous sources. There is none reported. Nor is he accused of political bias. In fact, the ZOA report says that we cannot know "whether Kurzman's claim is authentic or a creative combination of speculation and assumption" (note 145). In other words, we cannot DENY it just as we cannot credit it in full. On the other hand, reconstructing events and dialogue and "using the techniques of a novelist" does not render the source necessarily false, just more "entertaining" as the ZOA itself did in the passage quoted above. As to dialogue reconstruction, it can be derived from a process called interviewing, a technique journalists employ. In any event, Kurzman's account of the alleged admissions is not attributed to the entertaining 11-page drama but to an explanation of sources. Thus, there is some evidence of admissions by Irgun-Lehi members of a massacre.
Israeli author Uri Avnery claims to have "tried to interrogate" some of those involved at Deir Yassin. (note 70) He claims some admitted a massacre when a local commander lost his head after a sniper attack. Avnery is attacked as having a long record of "extremist political activity." This a tendentious way of saying he has a political bias and axe to grind, which he undoubtedly does, and which calls his claims into significant question. More seriously, he is criticized for not citing names of persons he interrogated or actual quotations. The political bias is a fair enough criticism although as noted just above there are many strong reasons the sources might wish to remain private. Thus, the claim is advanced but not effectively confirmed by Avnery. In addition, there appears to be some carelessness by Avnery on dates and times indicating the quality of his scholarship is less than rigorous.
We can thus conclude that the ZOA report confirms that there is some evidence of admissions of massacre by participants, though not convincing ones. Given the motives to keep quiet, it should come as no surprise that admissions might not appear on the public record. The ZOA report indicates nonetheless that there has been at least some evidence of such admissions.
Further, it does not appear that the ZOA report categorically DENIES that any admissions have been made by participants. This brings us to the case of peculiar ZOA footnote 42 (note 42) on the testimony Yehoshua Gorodenchik. For some reason the footnote attempts to undermine the favorable, if not too weighty, self-serving testimony in the text of attacker Gorodenchik relating to surrendering Arabs pulling weapons, a sort of "she had a gun I swear" defense). Perhaps this is related to a section in one of the history books NOT reviewed by ZOA, Amos Perlmutter's sympathetic biography of Menachem Begin ("The Life and Times of Menahem Begin"). The author, in the chapter on Deir Yassin, which the author concedes was a massacre, cites Gorodenchik's testimony in the Jabotinsky archives as confirming that a massacre-–a general slaughter of Arab civilians—did indeed take place ("Dir Yassin" chapter).
18) The ZOA confirms that some members of the attacking group were directly observed after the attack planning a massacre of captives.
Whatever orders may have existed to prevent the initiation of a massacre, the ZOA report puts forward as a reliable observation, the Haganah man in Givat Shaul, Yona Ben-Sasson, who observes members of the organization intending to slaughter captives of Deir Yassin in a quarry. His recollection is that he talked them out of it. (The planners of the massacre are described as "hotheads" but not with a direct quote.) (note 58) All that is clear in this evidence and its context is that some presumably Lehi and/or Irgunists at Deir Yassin were observed planning at some point to kill captives and that they obviously had not been totally dissuaded from such thinking by their own commanders. The witness concludes that they refrained but we are not left enough information to know how long or where he observed the "hotheads" or "prisoners." Nor does the ZOA report say if he had observed the general situation or just the quarries. In short, this ZOA evidence, when stripped to examine what the observer observes, only confirms that among the attackers there was an active intention to massacre despite the reported orders of the commanders against such actions.
19) The ZOA report confirms there are additional allegation of atrocities, including rape, mutilation, and looting are that unconfirmed and unrefuted.
The ZOA report notes that allegations of rape and mutilation and looting appear to have been made by survivors and were recorded originally by the British investigator Catling who concluded that they did take place. There are, however, credible statements that no evidence of rape or mutilation was found on the bodies by Doctor Engel on Sunday April 11 (note 75) and by the two doctors on the next day (note 78). One male survivor expresses his skepticism of rape or attacks on pregnant women based on the absence of observing it or hearing it discussed among survivors (note 77).
Nevertheless, assertion and denial are inconclusive. The bodies were already undergoing observed removal when Dr. Engel arrived and two days had passed (note 75), one cannot be sure if all bodies were present. And it appears that the rape claimants were to some extent alive (note 80) and some would not have been there as bodies. The male survivor is expressing his personal belief and his observation is simply as to the lack of discussion of rape among survivors. The dynamics of openness on the issue of sexual assault is not treated in the ZOA report so that renders this male survivor source of limited value. In short, additional atrocities remain unconfirmed. [It should be noted finally that the ZOA report suggests that Catling's atrocity accounts need additional corroboration "from other sources" (notes 80-81). This is not unreasonable. However, a look at the source from which it comes, as we are referred by the ZOA authors, Collins/Lapierre's O Jerusalem, shows the authors summarizing their review of the Catling report by commenting that it contained "corroborating physical evidence contained through medical examination of the survivors by a doctor and nurse from Government Hospital in Jerusalem." (p. 276)]
20) The ZOA report confirms that captives were driven through West Jerusalem where crowds around them displayed hostility and a contemporary witness on the scene with a basis for knowledge suggested the prisoners were exhibited to boost public morale.
Conventional history has generally said that survivors of Deir Yassin were paraded through West Jerusalem as prisoners and in some cases spat on or otherwise jeered. The ZOA report addresses this. In a confusing paragraph, the ZOA report concedes that prisoners were sent "towards" Arab Jerusalem to be dropped off. While going there, the ZOA report concedes, there was hostility from crowds around the transport. One Haganah source on hand is cited to say that sending the prisoners through West Jerusalem was done to boost public morale (note 47).
The ZOA report appears to give greater weight to the (again, self-serving) testimony of an Irgun official which says this was done for unspecified "humanitarian reasons" (note 47). [Apparently public expulsion from one's home is a humanitarian consolation for the deaths of one's neighbors or family.] In any event, the ZOA report appears to confirm that there was hostility directed at the transport from people outside. It does claim, however, that this hostility was from Orthodox in Mea Shearim being angered by vehicles coming through after the onset of the Sabbath. But this explanation is attributed to an overall commander of Lehi (possibly self-serving information) who is not reported to even have been in Jerusalem at the time (note 47). Further, since the onset of Sabbath was sundown, it seems odd that the Irgun and Lehi would send a truck towards hostile territory after dark.
Thus, the Haganah report appears to be the better credible independent evidence of motive-–to boost public morale, presumably by parading prisoners. The ZOA report supports this by reporting the sending of prisoners through West Jerusalem directly (an earlier account of prisoners indicates another route was taken by earlier prisoners (note 47) and unchallenged evidence of some kind of hostility encountered. Finally, when one considers the ZOA-admitted history of prisoner exhibition by the Irgun (see # 3, above), the case for the "parading" of prisoners is strongly sustained and not refuted by the ZOA report. [Of course, conventional history contains eyewitnesses to the parading. Jewish journalist Harry Levin recalled three trucks from Deir Yassin. They were "driving slowly up and down King George V Avenue, carrying men, women and children, their hands held over their heads." He spotted in one truck "a young boy, a look of anguished horror written on his face, his arms frozen upright" (from Harry Levin, I Saw the Battle of Jerusalem, New York, Schocken Books, 1950. Cited in Collins/Lapierre, p.279).]
21) The ZOA report reveals that remorse and recrimination for accidental slaughter is lacking from attackers and apologists.
Although hard to quantify, one thing lacking in the ZOA report is evidence of any recriminations or sadness over the large deaths of civilians that the attackers caused. If unintentional, as they claim, where are the heartfelt apologies-–even after time, as wartime passions cool? There is one report of attackers discovering civilians present in the Deir Yassin houses and being "horror-stricken" [apparently unaware of the tendency of Arab villagers to live in houses] but this is from another source, i.e., government propaganda pamphlet from a Labor-run Ministry (note 114 ). But where are the contemporary recriminations among the attackers? Where are the recriminations between the attackers and Haganah over ill-preparation? There is recrimination from one attacker over who caused some killing-–Haganah or the attackers—but it is alleged to be not credible (note 73).
Would not people who had caused the deaths of women and children by accident at least at some point do more than simply issue self-justifications? Would they not wonder what they could do next to avoid this? And would they sit on the bodies for two days, even, apparently, leaving wounded (according to unchallenged recollection of Jacques de Reynier, the Red Cross representative (note 65) in the village for two days. There appear to be no expressions of attacker revulsion after the heat of battle cooled at the ghoulish or pitiable presence of the corpses. And the ZOA report, while contesting his characterization, does not challenge that the Red Cross saw at least one Irgun-Lehi woman at the site (note 60), yet there is no recollection of a sympathetic mother at the presence of dead children. [To go beyond the ZOA source where even a doctor from a humanitarian organization in a growing war zone describes the scene as terrible, the man reported in the ZOA report as burying many of the bodies, Yehoshua Arieli, commented that the sight was "absolutely barbaric . . . all of the killed with very few exceptions were old men, women, or children." (Collins/Lapierre p.279)]
Would those who killed women and children unintentionally then glibly exaggerate the figure as Ra'naan did (see # 1, above)? Would there not be a single voice over 50 years regretting the results saying "I wish we could do it over so that lives could be saved"? The ZOA report cites none of this. True, war is ugly and pity may be hard to come by especially as the broader conflict is not over, but the human silence of the allegedly innocent perpetrators about the innocent victims suggests that maybe the perpetrators are not as innocent as claimed. Their admitted use of the victims as means to sow terror (see #1), their conspicuous lack of heartfelt pity or revulsion is reminiscent of the Holocaust deniers whose unspoken attitude is "it didn't happen but we're glad it did."
The ZOA report, stripped of argumentation, irrelevancies, innuendo, and self-serving testimony and examined for hard independent observer evidence leads us to the same conclusion that conventional history does: that many scores of villagers, women, men, and children at Deir Yassin were deliberately massacred, intentionally killed in non-combat situations. The massacre theory not only holds up well, but is even reinforced, by the very evidence within the most recent and hostile scrutiny of the massacre theory yet brought to bear (at least in English). And this is seen without offering in response the overwhelming affirmative testimony and evidence. Once again, it is an attempted whitewash, and a poor one.
ZOA Argumentation Subtext: Innuendos of Anti-Semitism, Anti-Israelism, Etc. Presence of Anti-Arab Prejudice
Additional points ought to be made about the argumentation of the ZOA report. It is important to realize that the ZOA is engaged in a not-so-subtle subtext. The subtext is an appeal to various emotional concerns, including fears of anti-Semitism, and political and sympathetic concerns about anti-Israel or anti-Zionist propaganda, and a fear of "Arab propaganda." It is further noted-–and has been noted—that in regard to Arab propaganda fears there also appears a subtle appeal to dismissive prejudice against Arabs.
This is manifest in rare references to direct available Arab survivor testimony even though they would be the most significant and possibly numerous purported eyewitnesses to a massacre claim. While self-serving statements from the attackers-–which advance nothing-–are offered extensively, survivor testimony is only occasionally cited (none of which denies a massacre). Survivor testimony is referred to in sustained detail only in regard to the issue of numbers of Arab deaths not to how they died. For some reason, their actual recollections in the same report are left unmentioned.
Is "being Arab" a sufficient reason to overlook testimony? It is reasonable to assume that members of a group accused of specific act of murder, like Irgun-Lehi members at Deir Yassin and their organizations, have a specific motive to lie and therefore have self-serving testimony, why would there be a motive to lie simply for being Arab? Certainly, Irgun-Lehi testimony cannot be dismissed solely because it is Jewish.
The assertion of there being a Deir Yassin massacre of over 254 with possible atrocities is not in origin anti-Semitic. The ZOA report indicates that the 254 figure was in origin from the Irgun itself, a Jewish source. And it notes that the Labor Zionists, the main Jewish authority in Palestine confirmed the figure and more importantly, confirmed a "barbaric" event and issued a public apology to Transjordan's King Abdullah (note 72). Since the source of massacre and figure are the official Jewish nationalist organization and its more nationalistic rival, it is almost certainly not anti-Semitic in origin.
The implication that it is anti-Semitic comes from almost amusingly crude innuendos of anti-Semitism in the text. To look at one case, the Red Cross representative, Jacques De Reynier, is characterized as being hostile to "the Jewish side." Although no evidence for this is cited, it seems to mean his hostility for the Irgun-Lehi forces, whom he describes in retrospect as criminals, apparently because of their demeanor and presumably because of what he believed they did to the people of Deir Yassin (note 60). And then there is some comic-bookish prose about the Red Cross representative wanting to be helped "to reveal the truth about Jewish savagery" (note 65). In another instance, a former British Mandatory official wrote in his memoirs that women at Deir Yassin were stripped and searched for money (note 103). Whatever his source of information, accurate or not, it is hardly an anti-Jewish stereotype to portray plundering soldiers as robbing their captives or stripping the women captives. It is about the most universal form of brutality known-–robbing and sexually humiliating.
Of course, none of this innuendo is based on the source or on accurate general history. First of all, as the ZOA report admits, the Labor Zionists WERE the "Jewish side," at least in terms of official authority and organizational numbers (see ZOA "Introduction"). The Irgun and Lehi were smaller independent Jewish nationalist rivals. Secondly, the only thing Jewish that De Reynier is seen to discuss is the doctor who was with him, whom he praises as courageous (notes 60-65), apparently in the face of people De Reynier evaluates somewhat the same way modern Americans evaluate the Manson Family. The doctor he takes with him is a member of the Jewish community's official humanitarian organization (note 65)–-hardly an expression of hostility to "the Jewish side." And it is clear he is making distinctions among Jews as individuals and even as "sides." [Finally, one can note that in an unmentioned (by ZOA) part of De Reynier's recollection, he recalls with revulsion the S.S. forces he encountered in Greece in World War II. (De Reynier, Jacques. A Jerusalem Un Drapeau Flottait Sur la Ligne de Feu.)]
Given the Irgun and Haganah origin of the figure and accusation of massacre it is also impossible to attribute the massacre story to anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, or Arab propaganda. Had every Arab radio station gone out of order in those days, anyone could, just by reading Haganah and Irgun statements, have concluded that a massacre of at least 250 or so had occurred.
Confirming Actual Causes of Palestinian Displacement
Traditional, though now fading, Zionist (originally Labor Zionist) and Israeli assertions held that Palestinians fled what became Israel in 1948-49 because of alleged orders from Arab political and military leaders to evacuate. It is also often said that this was against the will or policy of the Zionist organizations. Finally, it is implied that Arab fears which led to flight were irrational with the implication that something in the defective "oriental" imagination, as Arthur Koestler condescendingly implied (note 103) led to exaggerated fears. Contrary assertions have held that deliberate force, violence and terror was applied to cause Arabs to flee.
The ZOA report confirms now that forcing or frightening Arabs out was an existing practice. Blowing up houses in Arab villages would cause Arabs to flee and that this was apparently a Haganah tactic. The apparently authentic letter of Haganah commander David Shaltiel to the attackers needs to warn AGAINST a practice of blowing houses up, a practice which causes the population to flee, as he prefers the Deir Yassin population to remain to prevent foreign military forces from moving in their ruined houses (note 7). [This corroborates the New York Times correspondent's observation that the beginnings of the Arab refugee problem in early 1948 resulted from Jewish paramilitary units blowing Arab houses in various villages. (Dana Adams Schmidt, Armageddon in the Middle East, p.3-5)]
The ZOA report confirms that expulsion was practiced at Deir Yassin. First, the attackers attempted to warn the villagers to flee. Those who did not flee-–or die or lay wounded there for two days-–were transferred to Arab areas.
The ZOA report also confirms that there was a clear motive by the Irgun to exploit civilian deaths for the sake of sowing terror among the Arabs so that they would flee. Finally, the Haganah also publicized the Deir Yassin atrocity (whether it was one is irrelevant) yet later incorporated the Deir Yassin attackers into its own fighting forces (note 74). Again, without having to listen to any Arab sources who might be said to embellish in that irrational oriental way, the Arabs of Palestine were confronted by a military that contained the same forces-–operating with impunity—that committed what the main Jewish authorities characterized openly as a horrible atrocity with 250 men, women, and children cruelly slaughtered. Would it require oriental logic or Arab rhetoric, or the elusive Arab evacuation orders, to cause Arab villagers to flee?
Additionally, the ZOA report cites with apparent approval a scolding of the alleged Arab soldiers in Deir Yassin for not evacuating the population (note 114, 40), which seems to mean that the ZOA at any rate admits Arab forces were NOT evacuating the Palestinian population at that time, contrary to myth. In fact, the ZOA seems to think that evacuation of the population is the rational and responsible thing for soldiers (had they really been there) and civilians to have done. And they could have cited the alleged Arab general evacuation orders we have heard about over and over in order to illustrate that contention. But there are none cited, though it would be the best evidence of the irresponsibility of the non-evacuating alleged Arab soldiers. (Could that be because, as is now well-settled, the orders or urgings did not exist? (In fact, in the case of Deir Yassin, neither did the soldiers.)
Limited Criticism of Labor Zionist Information
One complaint documented in the ZOA report is that historians have tended to rely overly on each other in a co-dependent system of citation that underutilizes critical evaluation of primary sources. (See the latter sections of the report for a fairly good track down of ultimate sources.) This is one of the few valuable parts of their report. Interestingly, this confirms complaints often made by those who criticize the English-language media and academia for an alleged general pro-Israel bias on Middle East matters, namely that:
As confirmed by the ZOA report, the two most salient allegations about Deir Yassin, that there was a massacre and that 254 were killed, was disseminated for public consumption in the New York Times. The massacre allegation appears to have come originally from an Arab source with Red Cross confirmation with a figure of 250. But the dispatches did not stop and it was finally corrected to the 254 figure. The ZOA report notes that this was a figure and massacre allegation ***endorsed by the Haganah-Jewish Agency [Labor Zionists]***. And the ZOA further confirms that these Labor Zionist endorsed casualty allegations have gone around the historiographical world in secondary sources about the conflict with little follow up investigation (notes 92-100).
Other original sources cited as ultimately authoritative for the death toll or massacre rely on Arthur Koestler and Jon Kimche, Labor Zionists without first-hand knowledge (notes 106, 109). In other words, a Labor Zionist-approved claim passes quickly into near permanent conventional wisdom even though it contains at least one basic falsity. (The ZOA report of course claims that both the massacre allegation and death toll were wrong).
2) Dissenting views-–even when true—get short shrift or are misrepresented
The ZOA confirms that denials of the massacre by the Irgun and subsequent apologists are barely mentioned in conventional English language sources or are misrepresented [e.g., Begin said to have "confessed" or "endorsed" a massacre (notes 131-139)]. Now, if the Irgun denial of a massacre were true it would show that even truth finds it difficult to pass through the Labor Zionist-oriented consensus. But since it was true, this is not the best example. A better illustration is that a clearly more accurate lower casualty figure has barely passed into the mainstream despite assertion by Menachem Begin decades ago and review by Arab survivors in 1948 (note 83, 87). And this leads to the next point.
3) Arabs are not listened to even when right if the Labor Zionist conventional wisdom is contradicted
The ZOA cites the recent Arab survivor figures as probably the best investigated and most reliable. But even thought the figure has been of record since the middle 1980s, they have just begun to make an impact.
The ZOA report ultimately complains of the same thing that many "critics of Israel" do about current scholarship and conventional wisdom. And the complaint is validated on the issue of the Deir Yassin death toll, where a demonstrably false (agreed or agreeable by all serious) figure has been hard to get past Labor Zionist-oriented consensus.
Of course, if Labor Zionist contentions are true, there is no reason they should not remain. Scholars need to report the Irgun-Lehi denials and refute them (or show their refutation) especially as their political descendants are in power in Israel. But the ZOA report validates the above points, the excessive Labor Zionist prevalence in intellectual consensus on the Middle East, the killing by silence of different views, and the ignoring of Arab claims no matter how correct.
Illustration: How This Has Happened Before:
Labor Zionist consensus:
Arabs fled what became Israel as a result of obeying broadcast Arab evacuation orders; here and there may have been a forced expulsion. [This is no longer the Labor Zionist consensus but it has proven hard to beat.]
Dissenting Views/Short Shrift Misrepresentation:
Arabs fled primarily through fear of violence, attacks and massacre by Zionist forces, or forced expulsion, all part of intended result of war. There were no general evacuation orders. When this response is heard, this is usually misrepresented as being a contention that there were written orders for expulsion, that ALL Arabs were to be removed, or that all Arabs were expelled at gunpoint.
Arabs Not Listened to When Right
Although numerous Arabs recalled or argued the expulsions and attacks and fears of reports like Deir Yassin or other acts of destructive violence, and no written records of such broadcasts exist, Arabs were disregarded.
Towards a More Informed Consensus
Many other Labor Zionist contentions have entered public consensus in the past. They include the allegations that Palestine was "empty" at the time of Zionist-organized colonization, that the West Bank occupation has been benign, that the Arabs were on the verge of attacking Israel in 1967, that Israeli Arabs were treated as equals. Will they too be subject to question and if proved wrong, corrected?
Some have collapsed, but in the case of the benign occupation, it required violent insurrection and a long-term drift of Labor Zionists to the left. But what the ZOA report shows is that there needs to be a review of the Labor Zionist consensus. It should not require violence and long-term aggravation of a problem before they are addressed. Fifty years of war, and stagnation in solving it, results from a Labor Zionist-oriented consensus and the ignoring of Arab contentions. As we remember Deir Yassin and its subsequent scholarship, we find again and again this core set of problems: uncritical Labor Zionist domination of conventional wisdom, uncritical marginalization of dissenting views, and the ignoring of accurate and legitimate Arab contentions.
In making that clear, the ZOA report deserves congratulations. In attempting to deny the real victimization of fellow human beings, the ZOA deserves scorn. In doing so in such a self-defeating and transparent manner, it deserves our pity.