Paul Eisen

Paul Eisen

Saturday, 14 July 2012

A Memorial at Deir Yassin

Deir Yassin Remembered has long dreamt of a memorial to Deir Yassin, at the site of the village itself. But it has also long accepted that this is unlikely to be realized in the near or medium future. It would require both huge funding and Israeli permission, neither of which is at present, available.  

Nor might such a memorial be entirely desirable. Amidst the present injustice, a memorial now at Deir Yassin could at best, be a diversion from, and at worst, even a legitimization of the injustice. An Israeli government could well say to us at some time in the future,
“Sure, go build your memorial!” and, when built, they could use it to show visitors, en route to pay homage to Jewish suffering at Yad Vashem.
But a truthful memorial at the village, in clear sight of the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem, might be not only a way out of the current horror, but the only way out.   

And why Deir Yassin? Because, apart from being an enduring symbol of Palestinian life, history and survival and of the relationship between the suffering of Jews and Palestinians, Deir Yassin is a symbol of exactly who did, and is doing, what and to whom.

Jewish theologian Marc Ellis has written about a "revolutionary forgiveness" - a forgiveness with truth and justice at its centre, and therefore far removed from the realms of fake piety. This is not Jews and Palestinians holding hands in a peace tent. The road to Deir Yassin is a hard one.

Such a forgiveness lies well with Arab and Islamic reconciliation traditions and indeed our own common sense, that before reconciliation can take place, both perpetrator and victim must acknowledge the truth.
Ellis proposes that this forgiveness take place in what he calls "the broken middle of Jerusalem". Those of us committed to the memory and meaning of Deir Yassin agree, but, rejecting false notions of ‘balance’, we ask that it take place, not quite in the middle, but slightly off-centre at the village of Deir Yassin.