On April 9, 1948, the Irgun attempted to seize the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, resulting in a bloody battle that, according to the conventional wisdom, culminated in a massacre of civilians by Jewish soldiers. The Israeli historian Eliezer Tauber, however, has recently published a (Hebrew-language) study of the battle in which he argues that no such massacre occurred and that the events in Deir Yassin were deliberately blown out of proportion. As Shmuel Rosner notes, it is unlikely Tauber’s findings will ever get a hearing outside of Israel:
[Tauber’s book is] a detailed account of a fateful day, minute by minute, hour by hour. A convincing account. I’d be surprised to find any scholar whose familiarity with this event is more intimate. Tauber knows the names of everybody, he knows the time and the place where everybody was fighting, or hiding, or wounded, or killed. . . . The result is a gripping narrative. . . .
[T]he myth [of a massacre] was a deliberate attempt by the Palestinian leadership to force the Arab militaries of surrounding countries to intervene in the battle over Palestine. The leaders of the Palestinians sowed a wind and reaped a whirlwind. More than convincing the Arab states to intervene (they eventually did), they convinced their fellow Palestinians to flee. . . .
Tauber believed that his story would be of great interest to American publishers. He contacted university presses in the United States, and their response left him stunned. A representative of an elite university wrote back: “While everyone agreed on the book’s many strengths, in the end the consensus was that the book would only inflame a debate where positions have hardened.” Another one wrote: “We could sell [the book] well to the right-wing community here but we would end up with a terrible reputation.” Apparently, a book questioning the Palestinian narrative is not a book that American universities feel comfortable publishing.
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