Deir Yassin: The Battle for Truth

No incident in Israeli history has been more hotly contested than that of April 9, 1948, in the small Arab village of Deir Yassin. Noam Weissman tries to uncover what really happened on that fateful day and asks why, with so many battles, so much war and so many disputes, this event will haunt Israel forever.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. Deir Yassin is the name of:
    • An Arab village
    • An Arab leader
    • A city in Jordan
    • A Jewish town
  2. What was the objective of the attack on Deir Yassin?
    • To kill as many civilians as possible
    • To break the siege of Jerusalem
    • To declare it the capital of Israel
    • To unite the Zionist forces
  3. One of the outcomes of the propaganda after Deir Yassin led to:
    • Arabs taking over Jerusalem
    • Thousands of Arabs leaving their homes
    • The UN Partition Plan
    • The Arab victory in 1948
  4. Approximately how many Arabs died in the battle of Deir Yassin?
    • 25
    • 500
    • 107
    • 250
  5. When Fatah was founded in 1964, it claimed that its goal was:
    • Peace with Israel
    • The establishment of Ramallah as the Palestinian capital
    • Declaring Jordan Palestine
    • Vengeance against Deir Yassin
  1. How would you distinguish between history and narrative? Should they be understood as one and the same? When is it important to focus on one’s history and when should we focus on narratives?
  2. Some historians claim, and eyewitnesses testify, that the Jewish troops issued a warning to all civilians as they entered the village of Deir Yassin. Others claim that there was no such warning, or that it was only partially heard. Does this warning change the events at hand? Would knowing that there was definitely a warning vindicate the troops or no? Explain.
  3. After the events of Deir Yassin, there was much propaganda about it on both sides. When the Arabs inflated the number of casualties and perpetuated stories of rape and other atrocities, the Haganah did not stop these rumors; the Haganah was invested in showing that the Irgun and Lechi, smaller paramilitias who had led the attack, were not up to snuff. Did the Haganah act properly in allowing the rumors of Deir Yassin to spread? Were the Haganah leaders short-sighted or necessarily protecting their image?
  4. What do you see as the legacy of the battle at Deir Yassin?
  5. Ultimately, what matters more: the actual events that took place or the impact that they had on both the Israeli and Palestinian psyche?
  6. Picture yourself in Palestine (before it was called Israel) in April 1948. If you are Jewish, what are you experiencing? If you are Palestinian, what are you experiencing?
  1. Play your Deir Yassin Kahoot!
  2. Lead a podcast listening party. Download our PDF Guide.

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