First Deir Yassin Memorial in the United States
Deir Yassin Remembered, a not-for-profit organization of Jews and non-
Jews working to build a memorial to the Palestinian Arab victims of
the April 9, 1948 massacre at Deir Yassin, will unveil its first
memorial in the United States on September 24th on the western shore
of Seneca Lake in Geneva, New York.
The Olive Tree
The bronze sculpture will depict a mature olive tree, a symbol of
peace, uprooted in the Zionist quest to build a Jewish state upon
land owned and long-inhabited by Muslim and Christian Palestinians.
The tree's tortured, angular lines illustrate the many decades of
Palestinian dispossession and dehumanization that began before 1948
and continue today. The extended branches add movement and drama;
they appear dead and yet are still alive. The torn roots of the
displaced olive tree are wrenched from the earth, root-remnants still
entrenched, clinging to the motherland. Enjoying special status in
holy books, people of all religions relate to the olive tree as a
symbol of peace and enlightenment; it is mentioned six times in the
The Lake Site
Many visitors will come from the award-winning hotel, Geneva-on-the-
Lake, located on the adjacent property owned by the Audi family.
Mrs. Aminy Audi has been a patron of Deir Yassin Remembered since its
inception in 1995. One of America's premier small resorts, Geneva-on-
the-Lake is "An oasis, a little island of beauty, peace and
friendliness in a busy world." A bloc of rooms has been reserved for
this event; be sure to mention that you are a part of the Deir Yassin
Memorial Event to receive the special rate.
Visitors to the memorial will view the statue framed by trees and the
beautiful Seneca Lake, about 30 feet away. They will sit on a
curvilinear massive bench carved from local-quarried red Medina
sandstone (pronounced "me di na" in upstate New York; "ma deena" is
an Arabic word that means 'city'). Visitors may stop, look, and
linger for as long as they wish. And when they do move on, they will
take with them concern over this tragic event and its relevance in
the contemporary struggle for Palestinian human rights.
The Artistic Creation
The sculpture is the design and creation of the renowned Arab-
American artist, Khalil Bendib, among whose works is the statue of
Alex Odeh, murdered in Santa Ana, California in 1985, in a hate crime
against Arabs. Khalil Bendib's studio is in Berkeley, California.
The bronze plaque describing the Deir Yassin massacre will include
the following Haiku by Randa Hamwi Duwaji, DYR Director of Poetry and
Verse, author of Heartbeats in the Wind: Reflections of an Arab
Earth torn roots yearning,
Palestine landscape mourning
Together with the Arabic rendering of the poem, these short, powerful
verses closely and explicitly reflect the significance of the
sculpture. The human implication is reinforced as both art forms
come together to create a moving, harmonious whole.
This will be the third memorial to the victims of Deir Yassin. The
first was a simple stone with a plaque at Dar Al-Tifl Al-Arabi,
across from Orient House in East Jerusalem where Hind Husseini
sheltered orphans of Deir Yassin on April 10, 1948.
The second memorial was dedicated in 1988 on the fortieth anniversary
on the grounds of the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, Scotland.
Deir Yassin Remembered shall one day build a groundbreaking memorial
and information center at Deir Yassin, across the valley from Yad
Vashem, the most famous Jewish Holocaust Memorial. The site of the
Deir Yassin massacre is envisioned as the ideal location where Jews
and Arabs can learn, understand, and come to terms with their shared
history, and with each other.
To date, contributors to the First Deir Yassin Memorial in the United
States are as follows: site preparation by Daniel Wobig, stone bench
cutting and finishing by Scott Fratto, 12-foot red Medina stone by
Walter Johnston. In addition we have received three "patron"
contributions of $5,000 or more: one from Margaret and Issam
Nashashibi of Dawsonville, Georgia; a second from Nabil Qaddumi from
Kuwait; and a third from a Jewish donor in New York City who wishes
to remain anonymous.
All financial contributions are welcome; the names of patrons
contributing $5,000 or more will be inscribed on the memorial
plaque. Make tax-deductible contributions to:
Deir Yassin Remembered
4078 Scandling Center
Geneva, New York 14456
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