Deir Yassin Massacre

Deir Yassin











This weekend marked the 63rd anniversary of the massacre at Deir Yassin village near western Jerusalem: April 9-10, 1948.  Pre-state Zionist militias descended on Palestinians, killing scores, many of whom were shot at close range.

The massacre was publicized by propagandists looking to convince other Palestinians in the vicinity to flee. Along with other terror campaigns, such as burning crops and bullying villagers, the Zionist militias used the bloodshed there to scare other Palestinians. Deir Yassin was re-settled by Israeli colonists, something that even liberal Zionists like Martin Buber found outrageous.

Though there were other massacres, Deir Yassin stands out as especially gruesome and instrumental to the capture of Jerusalem.

These are resources sent out by the Institute for Palestine Studies.


-Historian Joel Beinin called Deir Yassin “the most infamous massacre of Palestinian Arabs.”

He wrote, “The efforts of the Zionist armed forces to retain Jerusalem, including the massacre at Dayr Yassin, were an important factor prompting the Arab population of western Jerusalem and its surrounding villages (Malha, Lifta, ‘Ayn Karim, etc.) to leave.” (p. 11)

Beinin recounted a debate in the Knesset in 1949 in which one member said “If you don’t know [about Dayr Yassin] you can ask” David Ben-Gurion. The Knesset member also said, “thanks to Dayr Yassin we won the war, sir.”

The exchange was published in this article (p. 23) by Amnon Kapeliouk.

-Nathan Krystall wrote that a Red Cross official said the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre had no “military reason or provocation of any kind” in his article on the de-population of western Jerusalem (p. 10)

-A 1991 Norman Finkelstein article on myths about Al-Nakba, in response to Benny Morris, mentioned the Deir Yassin massacre, but places it in a campaign to empty much of Palestine of Palestinians.

-Palestinian attorney Raja Shehadeh “grew up hearing about the massacre in Deir Yassin but didn’t know that it was one of scores” that took place.


-There is some important testimony on Deir Yassin in the classic book, ‘From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem Until 1948.’ Ed. Walid Khalidi, pp. 761-766. It is for sale online.

-An important book — published in Arabic — is ‘Dayr Yasin: 9 April 1948,’ by Walid Khalidi. It is based on the personal testimonies of thirty survivors of the Dayr Yasin massacre of 1948. It also draws on the accounts of individuals from the groups that perpetrated the massacre: the Irgun, Stern Gang, and the Palmach.

Woven together to form a composite picture of the events leading up to the massacre, this narrative is distinguished from other accounts by its comprehensiveness and its placement of the massacre in its wider geopolitical context. The book contains six maps and six appendices that list the victims and classify them by family, gender, and age.




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