A dedication ceremony for the first U.S. memorial to the victims of Deir Yassin will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 24, at 9 One Mile Point, Geneva. A reception will follow the dedication. Those who wish to attend are asked to RSVP by Sept. 11 by calling 781-3418.
The memorial is a bronze sculpture, depicting an uprooted olive tree, by internationally renowned Arab-American artist Khalil Bendib.
“We are dedicating the first memorial in the United States in remembrance of the victims of the massacre, which occurred on April 9, 1948 at Deir Yassin, a Palestinian village on the west side of Jerusalem,” said Daniel McGowan a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Executive Director of Deir Yassin Remembered.
Bendib, a naturalized U.S. citizen, grew up in Morocco and Algeria and came to California at age 20. After earning his master's at the University of Southern California, Bendib became both a political cartoonist and a professional sculptor. In 1987 he was hired as an editorial cartoonist with the Gannett Newspapers, at the San Bernardino Sun, a position he later resigned to devote himself entirely to a career in the fine arts.
In 1994, he completed his first public monument, the “Alex Odeh Memorial Statue,” a larger-than-life size bronze sculpture honoring the regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee assassinated in his Santa Ana office in 1985. Bendib also created the “Ode To Diamond Bar,” a nine-foot bronze cougar at Summit Ridge Park near Los Angeles.
His work reflects his own vision of multi-culturalism and an all-embracing pacifist belief, which stems from his personal experience as an exile from his Algerian homeland when his parents fled French-colonial death threats. Jewish and Muslim communities in California have praised Bendib as a peacemaker.
His recent accomplishments include the “César E. Chávez Memorial Monument, Los Angeles, Dedication of Arab Community History, 40 x 40' Mural, San Francisco, “The Spirit of GAIA” four 3'1/2 bronze wall sculptures, Berkeley, Artist residency at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and “Venus and Mars” 7-foot wall relief, Walnut Creek. His work has been exhibited on three continents, North America, Europe, and Africa.
Attendees will include Rabbi Dovid Weiss and Rabbi Dovid Feldman from Monsey, N.Y.; Summer Sharaf, daughter of the former Ambassador from Egypt; Randa Hamwi Duwaji, artist and poet from Dubai; Amany Nuseibeh, Palestinian representative from Australia; Abdeen Jabara, former head of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Sister Miriam Ward, Sisters of Mercy; Janet McMahon, editor of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs; Gene Bird, Executive Director, Council on National Interests, Washington, D.C.; Muna Nashashibi, Palestinian representative from England; and Yousef Assad, survivor of Deir Yassin and major donor from Jordan.
The Olive Tree
The bronze sculpture will depict a mature olive tree, a symbol of peace, uprooted from land long owned and long inhabited by Muslim and Christian Palestinians. The tree’s tortured, angular lines illustrate the many decades of Palestinian dispossession. The extended branches add movement and drama; they appear dead and yet are still alive. Enjoying special status in holy books, people of all religions relate to the olive tree as a symbol of peace and enlightenment.
The Deir Yassin Massacre:
On April 9, 1948 the Irgun and Stern Gang murdered over 100 men, women, and children in the Arab village of Deir Yassin on the west side of Jerusalem. The massacre marked the beginning of the depopulation of 750,000 Arabs from over 400 towns and villages.
Deir Yassin Remembered:
Deir Yassin Remembered is an international organization based in Geneva, New York. Its goal is to educate the public about the history of Deir Yassin and to build a memorial at Deir Yassin on the west side of Jerusalem. In the spirit of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, essential for the success of the Middle East Peace Process, organizers of DYR feel it is important for the suffering of the Palestinians to be acknowledged and memorialized.
DYR organizers foster remembrance through conferences, peaceful demonstrations, books and articles, documentary presentations, and memorials, such as this initial one in Geneva. The DYR Board of Advisers is stratified to include half Jews and half non-Jews, half men and half women.
Current members of the Board are Hanan Ashrawi, Mahira Dajani, Roni Ben Efrat, Marc H. Ellis, Nabila Espanioly, Maysam Al-Faruqi, Paul Findley, Norman Finkelstein, Sahar Ghosheh, Sherna Berger Gluck, Jeff Halper, Rachelle Marshall, Muna Nashashibi, Fuad Bassim Nijim, Ilan Pappe, Cheryl Rubenberg, Edward Said, Stanley K. Sheinbaum, Ahmad Tahboub, Lea Tsemel, and Mordchai Vanunu.
The directors are: Daniel A. McGowan (Geneva), Paul Eisen (London), Brian Filling (Glasgow), Avigail Abarbanel (Canberra), Asem Judeh (Victoria), and Khairieh Abu Shusheh (Jerusalem).