‘Barbarism by an educated and cultured people’ — Dawayima massacre was worse than Deir Yassin

Israel/Palestine
on 28 Comments

“There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?” For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full.

On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron, which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The massacre is of Al Dawayima, west of Al-Khalil (which is often referred to as Hebron). In a 2004 interview with Haaretz, Israeli historian Benny Morris refers to this as a massacre of “hundreds”.

After the massacre, a letter was sent to the editor of the leftist affiliated newspaper Al-Hamishmar, but never published. As Auron notes, there are still many archives of the time which are classified. Auron also states that there was an investigation that was never concluded and “died out” as a massive amnesty was provided to military personnel in February 1949.

This is a very exhaustive article, but I found it useful enough to translate this letter in full on its own. The letter, which first “disappeared,’ was provided to Auron by historian Benny Morris. Although these matters have been referred to in passing in historical summaries, the letter has never been published before in full.

Historian/sleuth Benny Morris has deciphered the Arab Muslim mind using ordinary household objects and Israeli police statistics.

Historian/sleuth Benny Morris

The letter is brought forth by a member of the MAPAM leftist party, S. Kaplan, who got the letter of testimony from the soldier. It is written to Eliezer Peri, editor of Al Hamishmar, and dated 8th November 1948 (18 days after the massacre):

To comrade Eliezer Peri, good day,

Today I have read the editorial of “Al Hamishmar” where the question of our army’s conduct was aired, the army which conquers all but its own desires.

A testimony provided to me by an officer which was in [Al] Dawayima the day after its conquering: The soldier is one of ours, intellectual, reliable, in all 100%. He had confided in me out of a need to unload the heaviness of his soul from the horror of the recognition that such level of barbarism can be reached by our educated and cultured people. He confided in me because not many are the hearts today who are able to listen.

There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. There was not a house without dead. The second wave of the [Israeli] army was a platoon that the soldier giving testimony belongs to.

In the town were left male and female Arabs, who were put into houses and were then locked in without receiving food or drink. Later explosive engineers came to blow up houses. One commander ordered an engineer to put two elderly women into the house that was to be blown up. The engineered refused and said he is willing to receive orders only from his [own] commander. So then [his] commander ordered the soldiers to put the women in and the evil deed was performed.

One soldier boasted that he raped an Arab woman and afterwards shot her. An Arab woman with a days-old infant was used for cleaning the back yard where the soldiers eat. She serviced them for a day or two, after which they shot her and the infant. The soldier tells that the commanders who are cultured and polite, considered good guys in society, have become vile murderers, and this occurs not in the storm of battle and heated response, but rather from a system of expulsion and destruction. The fewer Arabs remain – the better. This principle is the main political motive of [the] expulsions and acts of horror which no-one objects to, not in the field command nor amongst the highest military command. I myself was at the front for two weeks and heard boasting stories of soldiers and commanders, of how they excelled in the acts of hunting and “fucking” [sic]. To fuck an Arab, just like that, and in any circumstance, is considered an impressive mission and there is competition on winning this [trophy].

We find ourselves in a conundrum. To shout this out in the press will mean to assist the Arab League, which our representatives deny all complaints of. To not react would mean solidarity with moral corruption. The soldier told me that Deir Yassin [another massacre, by Irgun militants, April 1948] is not the peak of hooliganism. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?

It is necessary to initiate a scandal in the internal channels, to insist upon an internal investigation and punish the culprits. And first of all it is necessary to create in the military a special unit for the restraint of the army. I myself accuse first of all the government, which doesn’t seem to have any interest to fight the phenomena and perhaps even encourages them indirectly. The fact of not-acting is in itself encouragement. My commander told me that there is an unwritten order to not take prisoners of war, and the interpretation of “prisoner” is individually given by each soldier and commander. A prisoner can be an Arab man, woman or child. This was not only done at the exhibition windows [major Palestinian towns] such as Majdal and Nazareth.

I write this to you so that in the editorial and in the party the truth will be known and something effective would be done. At least let them not indulge in phony diplomacy which covers up for blood and murder, and to the extent possible, also the paper must not let this pass in silence.

Kaplan

28 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    February 7, 2016, 11:58 am

    Truth and tears leak out. Most moral army? Maybe, because how moral is any army? But moral? Not in my book. And keeping this thing secret so many years? were they hoping for 100 years? For forever?

    Some people, politicians notably among them, are described as having an intelligence a mile wide and an inch deep. The truth-hiders are, I believe, in this group. Truth is bad for the state, bad for the Jews. Hide it.

    What will our American heroes say of this? Of the doing? Of the hiding? Of how much longer this rotting corpse can be hidden?

    • oldgeezer
      February 7, 2016, 1:10 pm

      I agree the concept of a moral army is, at besr, one that is built on quicksand. That said there is no maybe about it. Not all armies behave in such a fashion. The idf is a terrorist organization composed of thugs and murderers. Both then and now.

      Nakba denial is a as great a crime against morality as holocaust denial.

  2. a blah chick
    February 7, 2016, 12:53 pm

    Yossi Gurvitz wrote a blog post a few years back in which he said that there were very few memoirs written by ’48 war veterans. He suggested that the reason was that many of them could not admit to themselves, much less the Jewish community, what they had done. So they kept silent and thereby left the field free for Leon Uris and his ilk to come along and enshrine Zionist mythology as “History.” They had a willing accomplice in successive Israeli governments who made sure to indoctrinate their (Jewish) citizens in the mythology and deny their responsibility in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

    “..the commanders who are cultured and polite, considered good guys in society, have become vile murderers, and this occurs not in the storm of battle and heated response, but rather from a system of expulsion and destruction.” Not for the last time would “cultured and educated” men be responsible for horrible atrocities. There were plenty of them running around German in the last century.

    By the by is Benny Morris still on the outs with the rest of the Zionist community?

    • Brewer
      February 7, 2016, 1:51 pm

      Benny Morris has always been something of an oddity – a Zionist who puts the integrity of his profession above his loyalty to Zionism yet, ultimately, his Zionism triumphs over any form of morality:

      “Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.”
      read more: link to haaretz.com

      Its a syllogism available only to a Zionist:
      “A Jewish State could only have come into being through barbarism. A Jewish State is a good thing – ergo – barbarism is excusable”.
      Benny’s logic seems to have cleared his way back into the fold.

      • diasp0ra
        February 7, 2016, 2:14 pm

        @Brewer

        Exactly my thoughts. The majority of Zionists I come across regurgitate old disproven tropes, and as a general rule rely on your ignorance of history rather than them having a point.

        Morris, however, is another beast. He knows in detail all the monstrosities that were needed to establish Israel. He knows the facts from the myths, he knows that the Palestinians were victimized, yet still he feels this is all worth it.

      • WH
        February 8, 2016, 4:26 am

        It’s quite remarkable; Morris’s work a few decades ago was vital to debunking the Zionist myths, yet he’s put himself squarely on the Zionist side and glorified Israel as a villa in the jungle, surrounded by Arabs who are simply violent by nature and will never make peace. Finkelstein has written quite a bit about him, and seems to think it’s mostly careerism that unifies these contradictory positions: first the chance to make a splash as a bad boy, and later part of the establishment underpinning Israel’s legitimacy.

      • tony greenstein
        February 8, 2016, 10:45 am

        Morris does indeed have some academic integrity even though he in the end justifies what was done in the name of creating a ‘Jewish’ State. Worse still he says that the job should have been finished and that no Arabs should have been left.

        However Morris still asserts that there was no overall plan to expel the Palestinians. It just happened and gathered its own momentum. Plan D did not envisage expulsion etc. In this he differes from Ilan Pappe and in this he is allowing his politics to contradict his academic research.

      • Misterioso
        February 8, 2016, 12:58 pm

        It seems Benny Morris’s memory is faulty.

        For the record:

        Benny Morris (an avowed Zionist) describes Plan D as “a strategic-ideological anchor and basis for expulsions by front, district, brigade and battalion commanders… and it gave commanders, post facto, a formal, persuasive covering note to explain their actions …. [It] was understood by all concerned that, militarily, the less Arabs remaining behind and along the front lines, the better and, politically, the less Arabs remaining in the Jewish State, the better.” (Benny Morris, Birth Of The Palestinian Problem 1947-1949, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988, p. 289)

        In 2004, when asked by Ha’aretz journalist Ari Shavit what new information his just completed revised version of The Birth of the Palestinian Problem 1947-1949 would provide, Benny Morris replied: “It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.” (Ha’aretz, January 9, 2004)

        The IDF Intelligence Branch issued a report dated 30 June 1948, entitled “The Arab Exodus from Palestine in the Period 1 December 1947 to 1 June 1948.” After studying the document, Israeli Benny Morris stated that “the Intelligence Branch report…goes out of its way to stress that the [Palestinian] exodus was contrary to the political-strategic desires of both the Arab Higher Committee and the governments of the neighboring Arab states. These, according to the report, struggled against the exodus – threatening, cajoling, and imposing punishments, all to no avail.” (Benny Morris, “The Causes and Character of the Arab Exodus from Palestine: The Israel Defense Force Intelligence Board Analysis of June 1948: Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. XXII, no. 1, January 1986)

  3. Whatt
    February 7, 2016, 1:24 pm

    As a group, the Zionist pioneers and the early settlers of Palestine were the most educated, “cultured” and intellectual of the Europeans. Yet original sins (emphasis on the plural) were committed and repeatedly. History is not going to be kind. History will demand an explanation. Previous facile, convenient and self-serving explanations and propaganda are shattering. The answer(s) and explanations will be ugly.

    • MHughes976
      February 7, 2016, 3:38 pm

      The belief that they were so cultured, educated and Western contributed to a hideous sense of superiority, with terrible results. This story is quite shocking but it will have very little impact in the Western world.

      • Whatt
        February 7, 2016, 9:56 pm

        “will have very little impact in the Western world”
        Mostly true currently, but there is a definite incremental understanding of how nefarious Zionist ideology is from the beginning. History, in the end, will not be kind.

    • WH
      February 8, 2016, 4:27 am

      An eerie echo of the Third Reich, where respectable, educated and cultured people also committed acts of inhumanity.

  4. diasp0ra
    February 7, 2016, 1:31 pm

    Please tell me more about how Israel only lost its soul due to the occupation, like liberal Zionists claim.

    Please tell me more about how Israel was a fundamentally good and democratic society before that.

    Please tell me more about how the ethnic cleansing was carried out only due to the “hectic” necessities of war and not as a planned campaign of expulsion for ethnic hegemony.

    Please tell me more about how Israelis never target civilians due to their “purity of arms”, unlike their evil Arab enemies.

    Please keep telling me how Israel isn’t a colonial racist state founded by racist immigrants from Europe who swallowed the whole pill of western superiority and white supremacy.

  5. rensanceman
    February 7, 2016, 1:31 pm

    The law of Karma provides hope that these monstrous episodes in Israel’s bloody and vile history will result in justice for the victims. As we learn more about the true facts about the Zionist Project and its history, the weight of the fabric detailing these crimes will inevitably end this evil regime. Yet we have all of the candidates for President lauding Israel a country that ignores with impunity United Nation’s Resolutions and international law regarding its behavior. Likewise for the Christian Evangelicals who should read what the Talmud says about those who believe in Jesus and the goyim.

  6. Curatica
    February 7, 2016, 6:30 pm

    Profane culture and education have nothing to do with man’s beastly inclination. They can only create more sophisticated criminals.

  7. JWalters
    February 7, 2016, 7:06 pm

    Thank you for publishing this myth-busting historical document. A succinct account of other buried historical facts surrounding this slaughter are online at “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror”.

    • Brewer
      February 8, 2016, 2:33 am

      “myth-busting historical document”
      I believe so, it is very powerful. I look forward to an engaging the next Nakba-denier who crosses my sights.
      Thanks to Haaretz and Jonathan Ofir for the ordnance.

  8. bryan
    February 8, 2016, 3:02 am

    Shame that Haaretz saw fit to publish the article only in Hebrew (perpetuating the idea that the truth cannot be told to gentiles since their inherent antisemitism will exploit any intimation of truth for evil purposes). Never mind: there is an organisation (MEMRI) which engages in solidly based research and “explores the Middle East through the region’s media”, bridging “the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations” and provides “original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East.” I will keep watching their website for a full English translation of this important article.

    • Don
      February 8, 2016, 12:00 pm

      bryan…note about MEMRI is supposed to be a joke, right?

      link to theguardian.com

    • bryan
      February 8, 2016, 1:20 pm

      No Don – not at all a joke – these matters are far too serious for any frivolity. My point was that MEMRI is a notorious propaganda organ, serving the purposes of defending war-crimes by cherry-picking articles from the Middle East that serve to show Israel in a good light, and that it very definitely does NOT “explore the Middle East through the region’s media”, bridging “the language gap which exists between the West and the Middle East, providing timely translations” and provide “original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends in the Middle East.” – Despite its mission statement it consistently ignores even historical documentation which reveals the truth about the Middle East and its history.

  9. yesspam
    February 8, 2016, 3:51 pm

    This is just how white supremacist always behave

  10. rosross
    February 8, 2016, 9:48 pm

    The problem with building on a foundation of lies is that denial becomes even more powerful and required and the path to madness and delusion is assured.

  11. thunderbolt
    February 14, 2016, 2:32 pm

    I wonder what this conversation would be like if the Arabs states had defeated Israel in 1948? What if the Islamic states had succeeded in annihilating Jews, destroying Israel, and pushing the Jews into the sea? Atrocities are committed in time of war; hatred comes to the surface easily. Hatred of Jews is something not in short supply among Palestinians and many others. Would the conversation be directed against Palestinian atrocities?

    • Annie Robbins
      February 14, 2016, 3:21 pm

      thunder, do you also wonder what this conversation would be like if hilter was king of the jews and the european jews were the nazis who succeeded in annihilating millions and millions of germans during the last century? and jewish hatred of gentiles was so strong (Hatred of Palestinians and gentiles is something not in short supply among Jews) the remaining germans would be transferred to palestine and jews would have taken over germany, everyone would be speaking hebrew in germany and jews would have to pay reparations to germans for the last 7 decades.

      since your fantasy juices are flowing and all.

    • Bumblebye
      February 14, 2016, 4:19 pm

      “thunderbolt”, a “student”. Obviously not of history.

      In 48, the Arab armies were not attempting to destroy Israel. They were trying to prevent its expansion *outside* its declared borders of the 47 UN Partition Plan, and protect the lives and homes of the Palestinians living in those parts Israel was busy stealing from them and destroying.

      There was no plan for “annihilating Jews, destroying Israel, and pushing Jews into the sea”. That is all projection on the part of the Israeli myth-machine, but is disseminated in Israel and around the world to gullible zionists as “history”.

    • RoHa
      February 14, 2016, 4:38 pm

      “I wonder what this conversation would be like if the Arabs states had defeated Israel in 1948?”

      We would not be having this conversation. The evil of Zionism would have been defeated.

      “Hatred of Jews is something not in short supply among Palestinians”

      And Zionist Jews have worked hard to earn that hatred.

      “Would the conversation be directed against Palestinian atrocities?”

      If there had been any, I would certainly condemn them.

    • diasp0ra
      February 14, 2016, 5:06 pm

      @Thunderbolt

      Could you please elaborate on what you mean when you say “Islamic states”? What is required to make a state “Islamic”?

      You need to separate Zionists from Jews from Israelis, they are not interchangeable categories.

      As for your question, it’s really nonsense, we can’t find out what happens in alternate universes so we don’t know what could have happened.

    • eljay
      February 14, 2016, 6:59 pm

      || thunderbolt: I wonder what this conversation would be like if the Arabs states had defeated Israel in 1948? What if the Islamic states had succeeded in annihilating Jews, destroying Israel, and pushing the Jews into the sea? Atrocities are committed in time of war; hatred comes to the surface easily. Hatred of Jews is something not in short supply among Palestinians and many others. Would the conversation be directed against Palestinian atrocities? ||

      I wonder what this conversation would be like if the victims had defeated the rapist when he tried to abduct them. What if they had succeeded in knifing him, murdering him and pushing him into his grave? Atrocities are committed in times of violence; hatred comes to the surface easily. Hatred of rapists is something not in short supply among women and many others. Would the conversation be directed against female atrocities?

      Justice, accountability and equality must be universally and consistently applied to actual (past and on-going) crimes, not hypothetical ones. Leave it to a Zio-supremacist to suggest otherwise.

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