Saturday, June 2, 2012

Begin Commanded the...Hagana?

It is always amazing how much misinformation or simple ignorance is out there in cyberspace.

Here is one example:

Hazem al-Amin, June 1, 2012

In November 1948, my father’s uncle was killed in a massacre also known as the “Houla massacre.” Yet Houla, in this case, is not the Syrian town of al-Houla where a massacre occurred about a week ago. Rather, it is a Lebanese village along the border with Israel where the Zionist Haganah militia committed a massacre that led to the death of 90 townsfolk. According to stories, my great-uncle Jawad al-Amin was one of the first men in town to have been executed by the Haganah.

The massacre, it seemed, was a punitive measure carried out by the Haganah against the townsfolk to punish them for cooperating with the troops of the Arab Salvation Army who were sent in by their respective states to assist the Palestinians during what we call “Al-Nakba” and what the Israelis refer to as the “Liberation War.”

This Houla massacre – and once again I repeat that this Houla is located in Lebanon and is different from Syria’s al-Houla, since the definite article “Al” is not enough to highlight the difference between these two towns that have both witnessed massacres separated by 64 years of hardship – has had a permanent function, namely to feed our conscience as its grandchildren.
I was born a little less than 20 years after the massacre, which means I am its grandchild rather than its child. Houla, which lies right next to my hometown, never ceased throughout all these decades to be the town where that massacre occurred. We were children, and that village opposite ours was the village of the massacre. It remained so throughout our teenage years and is still the village of the massacre in my imagination today.

Furthermore, Houla, where my great-uncle was killed, has created a silent internal intuition that stirs in me a shy wish to imagine and recall images of a massacre that occurred 20 years before I was born.

The victims and the perpetrators both have an image in my memory. Rumors have it that Menachem Begin was at the helm of the Haganah group that attacked the village. He went on to become Israel’s prime minister during the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1978. Begin’s mention enlists memories of the massacre every time I see a man from Houla. The weirdest thing is that I subsequently ruled out Begin’s having participated in the raid on the village because Israeli historian Benny Morris, who rewrote the story of the Israelis’ Transfer, said that the Houla massacre was committed by the “left-wing Zionist” Haganah militia, whereas Begin was at the head of the right-wing Irgun militia. Still, this did nothing to remove Begin’s face from the story of the massacre as I told it to myself.

How could those rumours have been believed for so long, as Morris' book on the birth of the Palestian refugee history came out in 1988.

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