Yet, more than 50 after the massacre at Deir Yassin, Dar El Tifl was suffering more than ever at the hands of extremist right-wing Israeli Jews bent on taking over all of Jerusalem. Orient House, the unofficial headquarters of the Palestinian National authority in Jerusalem, was the special target of the Jewish settlers who brought Benjamin Netanyahu into power as prime minister in June 1996. Orient House is directly across the street from Dar El Tifl, and Israeli militants often break into the school grounds and threaten students as they approach the school.
Teachers and students alike have received hope from the United States since 1992 when Dalal Muhtadi, a Saudi citizen who lives in California, founded Dar El Tifl – USA. “I had wanted to assist needy Palestinian children for years,” Muhtadi explains. “Then in late 1992 my Auntie Hind called from Jerusalem and said she needed my help.”
Over the years, the Saudi government had made grants to Dar El Tifl but these had dried up after the Gulf War. Muhtadi travelled to Jerusalem, talked to her great aunt Hind Husseini, the directors and teaching staff and familiarised herself with the school curricula and operation of the orphanage.
“I was convinced Dar El Tifl was accomplishing the goals it had set for itself. Now it was my turn to muster support for it in the United States,” continued Muhtadi.
But, why, we asked, would Israeli extremists want to terrorise Palestinian orphans. Hasn’t enough blood been shed over the past half-century?
“They don’t hide their motives,” Muhtadi replied. “Fundamentalist fanatics in Israel want to wipe out every trace of a Palestinian presence in Jerusalem.”
Mean-spirited settlers do their best to make life miserable – even scary – for Dar El tifl students. Settlers have broken the gate of the school, entered the playground area and threatened children. In their protests against Orient House, fanatic settlers have installed themselves in front of the school and raised wooden signs painted with a skull and crossbones on the school wall. When day students approach the school, shouting settlers with raised fists make them walk a gauntlet of insults and loud curses.