Deir Yassin TrenchesThe following morning the surviving villagers went to a meeting with the National Committee, the local Palestinian leadership in Jerusalem. It was up to the committee to decide how they should handle what had happened.’7 Abu Mahmoud remembers that the survivors were asked to exaggerate some aspects of the terrible events- ‘When we arrived in Jerusalem, we were taken to a hotel near the Damascus gate. We started asking after each other who had been killed, who was alive? Then the leaders of the National Committee arrived, including Dr Hussein Fakhri AI-Khalidi [Head of the National Committee in Jerusalem]. He invited some of us to go to his headquarters. He [Khalidi] said- “We want you to say that the Jews slaughtered people, committed atrocities, raped and stole gold”. He said you have to say this so that the Arab armies will finally make a move and come to liberate Palestine from the Jews'”.

Hazern Nusseibah, a senior programme assistant for the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation, was also contacted by the National Committee. ‘Dr Hussein Khalidi,’ he says, ‘rang me and said we must alert the Arab countries to what is happening. I was sure there were no rapes, but we were shaken by the events.’

Ironically, it was Hazern Nusseibah’s broadcast exaggerating the atrocities that triggered the mass exodus of Palestinians from their homes. He recalls- ‘We transmitted Dr Hussein Fakhri El Khalidi’s statement mentioning rape and this and that. It had a devastating impact on everyone in Palestine, and the exodus began . . . It was the biggest blunder that could have happened.’

Abu Tawfik and Abu Mahmoud resent the way these distortions of the truth led to Arabs fleeing their homes. Abu Mahmoud- ‘Dr Hussein Fakhri AI-Khalidi was the one who caused the catastrophe.

Instead of working in our favour, the propaganda worked in favour of the Jews. Whole villages and towns fled because of what they heard had happened in Deir Yassin.’

The National Committee’s attempt to make Arab governments send troops to their aid allowed the events to be described as ‘the myth of Deir Yassin’.

Shimon Moneta- ‘The horrors done by the Jewish soldiers [at Deir Yassin] definitely caused the Arab population to run away every time they thought a Jewish soldier was coming near. Perhaps our leaders, Ben-Gurion at their head – even if they didn’t know the term psychological warfare – used such tactics to help us then — and in all the battles that lay ahead … ‘