A recently published book offers a new take on a pivotal battle and an intentional mistruth that changed the course of history forever
This is a very important article, but I think your implication that very few atrocities were perpetrated by the Arabs is an understatement. The best known in the cold-blooded murder of 127 defenders of Kfar Etzion on 13 May 1948 after they surrendered. In the battle of Sejera June 1948, the bodies of Golani soldiers killed in combat were mutilated by the Arab forces and their genitals stuck in their mouths. My mother-in-law, who served with Golani as a nurse, had to recover the bodies, and it traumatized her for life.
Ben Gurion and his unelected socialist government used Deir Yassin to vilify their political rivals. This allowed Ben Gurion and his socialists to misrule Israel for it's first three decades, maintaining Israel as a third world economy with their disastrous socialist ideology. While the fake massacre hurt Israel, it helped Ben Gurion.
Tauber's book is welcome and important. But let's not forget that Menachem Begin gave a similar account as to what happened at Dir Yassin in his book, "The Revolt" (first published in 1953). Here's an excerpt from Begin's introduction to the 1972 edition:
"A small open truck accompanied them [Irgun fighters], fitted with a loudspeaker. In the early dawn light of April, 10th, 1948, it was driven close to the village entrance, and a warning was broadcast in Arabic to civilian, non-combatant inhabitants, to withdraw from the danger zone, as an attack was imminent. Everyone who was left would be guaranteed safe passage — if not, it would be his or her own responsibility. Some two hundred villagers did come out, and took shelter on the lower slopes of the hill on which Dir Yassin was perched. None of them, during or after the fighting, were hurt or molested in the slightest, and all were afterwards transported to the fringe of the Arab held quarter of East Jerusalem, and there released.
"The actual battle of Dir Yassin began with a typical Arab subterfuge, which has been often rehearsed since. The Palestinian Arab and Iraqi garrison hung out white flags from houses nearest the village entrance. When the advance party of the Irgun unit advanced towards the entrance, it was met by a hail of fire. One of the first to be hit was it’s commander. Fierce house-to-house fighting followed. Midway, the Irgunists ran out of ammunition, but went on as best they could, with the weapons and equipment found in the first houses to fall into their hands. Most of the stone buildings were defended hotly, and were captured only after grenades were lobbed through their windows. Some of the garrison, as the battle neared it’s close, attempted to escape in women’s dress. When approached, they opened fire. They were discovered to be wearing Iraqi military uniforms under the disguise.
When the fighting ended, the Irgun unit found that it had sustained forty-one casualties, four of them fatal. In the captured houses they were horror stricken to find that, side by side with those combatant Palestinians and Iraqis, were the bodies of women and children. Either these luckless villagers had trusted the Arab soldiers to beat off the attack, or had been prevented from leaving the village with the others when the opportunity was given, before the fighting began, or perhaps had been afraid to go; Whatever the reason, they were the innocent victims of a cruel war, and the responsibility for their deaths rests squarely upon the Arab soldiers, whose duty it was — under any rule of war — to evacuate them the moment that they turned Dir Yassin into a fortress, long before the battle for the village began. Total Arab casualties, including soldiers and civilians, were counted after the fighting at two hundred."
As for the impact of the "massacre" on the course of the war, Begin wrote in the original book,
"Not what happened in Dir Yassin, but what was invented about Dir Yassin, helped to carve the way to our decisive victories on the battlefield. The legend of Dir Yassin helped us in particular in the saving of Tiberias and the conquest of Haifa."
The "legend of Dir Yassin" is a notable exception to the adage that history is written by the victors. It remains to be seen whether Tauber's study can help right a grievous historical wrong.
"It is apparently true that after the 1948 war, there were few, if any, rapes of enemy populations by Israeli soldiers. But 1948 was apparently sadly different. That, too, is part of what we need to confront."
But you don't actually give any examples of rape in 1948. You only say that the claims of rape in Deir Yassin are false. The Benny Morris quotes don't mention rape. So what is it that we need to confront?