by Israel Shamir
The strong nationalist tendencies of many Russian Jews in Israel
did not grow on an empty space. There was a consistent
indoctrination effort, which included re-writing the history of
Palestine. One of the indoctrination agencies is the Aliya
Library, heavily subsidized, state-owned publishing house. The
Aliya published over 150 titles, such as Leon Uris' Exodus,
Jabotinsky, a whole range of obscure Zionist preachers and turn
of the century Jewish books. They do not try to be objective.
That is why I was amazed to discover O Jerusalem by Larry
Collins and Dominique Lapierrre on the list of Aliya
publications. Their story of 1948 struggle for the City is
basically pro-Israeli. My edition displays a Jewish Observer
stamp of approval on its cover, and I got it as a present from a
settler friend of Kfar Etzion. Still, the book tries to present
a balanced picture of the tragic events and human side of
combatants, and therefore it is a book to learn, not to
My amazement only grew when I opened the Aliya translation. The
good Zionist editor of the Russian Version (RV) completely
revamped the book, sometimes by subtle changes, sometimes by
huge strokes of his magic scissors.
Compare two texts, OV (original version) and RV (Russian
version) describing the aftermath of an Arab attack on a Jewish
Tonight in Beit Machsir, Saris, Kastel, in all the poor villages
clinging to the Judean heights above the road, there would be a
rare and unexpected banquet on the food which Jerusalem's hungry
Jews so desperately awaited.
Tonight in the Arab villages nearby - in Beit Machsir, Saris,
Kastel and others - there was a great banquet - fellahs feasted
on the food which Jerusalem's hungry Jews so desperately
Just three subtle changes - and the picture changed drastically.
In the OV, the emergency supplies of Jews present a rare,
once-in-a-lifetime feast for the peasants of the poor villages.
In the RV, the fellahin devour food of hungry Jews. In the RV,
the Palestinian villages 'lost' the Judean heights with their
positive connotation. The word 'clinging' was also removed, as
it was liable to cause compassion.
Sometimes the editor of RV is less subtle.
Arab resentment periodically erupted in outbursts of violence
and in the outright revolt against British rule.
Arab hatred periodically erupted in assaults on Jews and in the
It is good to use the emotive 'pogrom' so the Russian Jewish
reader will come to a simple vision of Palestinians. They are
the same Jew-baiting pogrom-making goyyim as those he heard of
from his grandparents in Russia. The Arabs 'lost' the revolt -
but the RV editor introduces a sentence of his own.
RV p. 15
Storm of Jewish liberation struggle hit Palestine.
The RV editor uses all dirty tricks of a translator. Arab revolt
is 'a riot', Jewish revolt is 'a liberation struggle', Arabs
have 'gangs', but 'terrorists of Irgun' became 'Irgun fighters'.
The transplantation of 'revolt against British rule' by
'pogroms' serves an additional purpose - to promote the image of
perfide Albion, of ultimate Arab-British anti-Jewish alliance,
to implant the 'Massada complaint' of Jewish loneliness in the
hostile Gentile world. That is why Arabs attack a Jewish convoy
OV p. 281
counting on British indifference
RV p. 209
counting on British support
The GPO in OV is guarded by an Arab, a Jew and a British
soldier. The RV removes the Jew, for the same purpose.
Proper growth of 'the Massada complaint' calls for the Arab
Goliath vs. Jewish David myth. Whenever some part of the book
disagrees with it, it is cut out. In description of the Arab
summit discussing aid to Palestinians, the RV eliminated such
telling sentences as 'Ibn Saud had no troops worth speaking of',
'Nuri Said was ready to accommodate - for a price'.
RV does not want his readers to know how poorly the Palestinians
were armed in 1948. He removes such a passage: 'Saud sent el
Husseini a consignment of the primitive pre-WWI rifles. Angrily
el Husseini broke them one by one'.
'A few stolen cases of ammunition' of OV is transformed into
'Arabs cleared whole arms-depots'.
The Arab principal sources of arms were the battlefields of
Western Desert. Even there intramural feuding came into play...
a single rusty Mauser was sold for one hundred pounds, four
times the price of a brand new Mauser...
The Arab principal sources of arms were the battlefields of
Western Desert, crowded by the uncountable masses of all sorts
The Arab Goliath has to be well trained, that is why the RV (p
146) cuts out the description of low level of training among
Palestinians -"Training was haphazard. Recruits who were able to
fire half a dozen rounds at a target and toss a hand grenade or
two were considered well trained etc".
The Arab Goliath has to be rich - and the RV cuts out the
comparison of results of Golda Meir fund-raising drive - fifty
million dollars - "three times the entire oil revenues of Saudi
Arabia in 1947".
The OV contains 650 pp, the RV - 375 pp, and practically every
cut is meaningful. For instance, on p 15 OV you can read, 'It
was an ironic comment on the hypocritical aspects of Americas
Palestine policy...that the same American legislators who were
so freely urging a quarter of a million Jewish immigrants on
Palestine's 1.2 million Arabs had allowed exactly 4,767 refugees
on to Americas promised shores'. There is naturally no place for
such sentiment in a book subsidized by the American Jewish
Cultural Foundation of New York.
Descriptions and life stories of Arabs are systematically
removed from the book. 'The stately figure of Emir Feisal' is
gone, as well as stories of Abd el Khadir el Husseini, the
charismatic leader of Palestinians, of Fawsi el Kutub, ex-inmate
of a German concentration camp etc.
All stories pertaining to Jewish terrorist acts against peaceful
Palestinian population are removed or mutilated. The reader will
not find in the RV (p 101) that 'a Hagana officer set a Bren gun
in an office window and sent a clip of bullets into a crowd of
Arab shoppers at Jaffa gate'.
In the description of a terrorist attack on a Katamon hotel
Semiramis the cuts are subtler. The decision to attack the hotel
was based on a (wrong) assumption that the hotel served as the
HQ of Arab forces in the area, as jeep of el Husseini was seen
there. The editor cuts out a paragraph showing that el Husseini
just met there with local elders. Semiramis was no more a HQ
than Jerusalem Hilton hosting a meeting of UJA delegates with an
Israeli Chief of Staff. The horror of the Semiramis explosion is
eliminated from the RV. The Russian reader should not see " the
figure of a woman, stumbling hysterically through the rubble,
cradling in her arms the severed head of her infant daughter".
The Irgun terrorist attack on January 7, 1948 when a bomb was
hurled on people waiting for the bus No 3 at the Jaffa Gate,
when 17 civilians were killed, was one of serious steps of
escalation of the conflict and caused the Arabs to respond with
the bombing of Ben Yehuda street and of the Jewish Agency. Every
reference to the Jewish attack (pp 116-120 OV) is eliminated,
while the horror of Arab terrorist attacks is preserved.
Looting of Arab houses whose inhabitants run for safety to the
Old City, is removed. The looting of Kfar Etzion by victorious
Arabs is preserved with one nice cut. 'Arabs like locusts tore
out the settlers' young trees' remained, but the explaining
second half of the sentence 'as if to eradicate for ever the
last trace of that foreign invasion upon their ancient hills"
When Arabs of Sheikh Bader are forced out by terrorist tactics
of Hagana, the RV makes them to flee "one fine morning".
Evacuation of Arabs from Romema, according to RV, was "an
exemplary deed of Hagana'. Do you feel the touch? The morning is
fine, the departure is an exemplary one etc.
Other unpleasantries are cut out as well. A Russian reader will
not learn that in 1948, the Jewish doctors refused to attend a
wounded person, as they took him for an Arab. (Similar pattern
occurred a few years ago in Hebron, when a Sephardi Jewish
settler was left to die as he was taken for a Palestinian).
But the Deir Yassin chapter is the crowning achievement of the
RV editor. The events are well known. Irgun and Lehi attacked
the village and massacred its inhabitants. The Jewish community
condemned the murderers but never punished them. The editor of
the RV deals with it roughly. At first, he cuts out (225 OV) the
description of the peaceful village which avoided all contacts
with Mufti. Then he cuts out (267 OV) corroborating words of the
Hagana commander Shaltiel, who called Deir Yassin "one of the
few places which has not given a foothold to foreign bands". The
RV editor makes a footnote "Deir Yassin was not peaceful or
neutral as presented in the book" and eliminates all other
evidence. Description of the villagers is removed to avoid
compassion. Last sentence before the massacre description is
dealt with subtly.
They fell with increasing fury on the inhabitants of Deir Yassin.
They felt increasing fury towards inhabitants of Deir Yassin.
Not action - just feeling, which surely had no expression in
acts. Further on, there is no place for subtlety and RV cuts out
all description of atrocities and of mass murder of men, women
and children, receives a thorough treatment in the OV. Evidence
of a witness, a representative of Red Cross Jaques de Reynier is
cut out altogether, he is not even mentioned. Evidence of Hagana
and Palmach officers, of Gadna commander are cut out altogether.
The translation and editing come to catharsis in a footnote,
which appears to include a footnote of OV 271. It is not even
similar to the original note, but we can give the original text,
uppercasing words, carefully omitted by the RV.
IN THE INTEREST OF AVOIDING ANY ARAB TENDENCY TO MAGNIFY THE
EVENTS the material used was taken from JEWISH SOURCES,THE
REPORT OF THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS' JAQUES DE REYNIER, AND
THREE REPORTS, CONTAINING INTERROGATION reports of the massacre
survivors by a team of British police officers TOGETHER WITH
CORROBORATING PHYSICAL EVIDENCE OBTAINED THROUGH MEDICAL
EXAMINATION OF THE SURVIVORS BY A DOCTOR AND NURSE FROM
GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL IN JERUSALEM.
The RV editor is quite consistent. As he removed all reference
to non-Arab witnesses, he created an alibi. He continues freely:
"the evidence of rape, 'looting and atrocities' can not be
trusted as it is based on words of the Arabs who just now
escaped death and who are liable to exaggerate the enemy s
cruelty. The British officers' 'evidence' can not be relied upon
either as it was based on the evidence of the Arab survivors'.
Evidence of survivors is not to be trusted. A curious
coincidence: the same words were used by the advocate of the
Nazi official, Adolf Eichmann against the evidence of the Jewish
survivors of the holocaust. Israeli court rejected it out of
hand. But even this dubious argument is based on a lie. By
removing all reference to plentiful non-Arab evidence, the
editor of RV created the impression of their absence in the mind
of a Russian reader.
Here is a wonderful 'translation' of the footnote:
The British interrogation officer appended the following
remarks. "The majority of those women are very shy and reluctant
to relate their experiences concerning sexual assault, and they
need great coaxing before they will divulge any information. The
recording of statements is hampered also by the hysterical state
of the women who often break down many times whilst the
statement is being recorded. There is however no doubt that many
sexual atrocities were committed by the attacking Jews...Many
infants were also butchered and killed..."
The report has it, inter alia, "Many inhabitants, whom I
questioned in respect of atrocities committed in Deir Yassin,
refrained from answers about rapes". The report concludes (sic!)
by words, "Majority of the questioned were in a state of shock
and unable to relate what actually happened".
Such hutzpa would be unheard of elsewhere, as the courts are
liable to protect the authors against such 'translation' and
'editing'. I doubt whether it is just a case of brutal
indoctrination, and tend to look ad hominem.
The Aliya Library functions under the aegis of Netiv, one of the
branches of Israeli intelligence, sometimes described as the
Russian Desk of Israeli Foreign Office. The RV was published
when this murky organization was headed by a highly respectable
Dr Judas Lapidot of Tel Aviv University.
In 1948, Dr Lapidot was the Irgun commander at Deir Yassin. He
is personally responsible for the massacre. Dr Lapidot and his
gang stormed the village of Deir Yassin and mopped it up
'firstly with guns and grenades, and later with knives' (Jacques
de Renier, OV 270, RV none).
He was not punished. Instead, he called Russia to 'let my people
go'. Probably now we can understand why so many Russian Jews in
Israel (who read Russian and practically only Russian) tend to
embrace chauvinist extremists. They were viciously brainwashed
on the expense of Israeli and American taxpayers.