What the stars said...

Alexei Sayle

"I first became friendly with
a group of Palestinian
university students while I was
still a schoolboy in Liverpool.
Through them I became aware
of their unequal struggle
against Israeli occupation.

“Also, when I moved down to
London I shared a flat with
one of them, now a resident of Ramalla. He has blackmailed me into supporting the Palestinian cause ever since by threatening to tell my mother what we got up to in those years!”

Deir Yassin Remembered managed to involve in the 2001 commemoration a number of high-profile supporters: Alexei Sayle, Corin Redgrave, Clive Merrison, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Frances and Andy de la Tour, Nadim Sawalha, Susan Wooldridge and Michael Rosen all attended and spoke or performed.

Each had their own reasons for wanting to be involved. Here’s what they had to say.

To return to the 2001 commemoration page click here.

Roger Lloyd-Pack

"As a Jewish person I have always felt particularly bad about what happened to Palestine in 1948.

"If I can make any contribution, however small, towards bringing the two sides together and making reparation to the Palestinians for the terrible thing that happened to them, then I welcome the opportunity to do so.

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“It has never been acceptable to me that the price paid for the Jews to have their homeland was the sacrifice of the Palestinians."

Corin Redgrave

"When I read about Deir Yassin
Remembered I was immensely
excited: here were Palestinian,
Jewish and other public figures,
historians and intellectuals in pursuit
of truth and reconciliation, in the
most important of all arenas – the
arena of history. There should be,
as was said of another great project
"no blank spots in history.

"It is an honour to take part in this event, on the eve of the 53rd anniversary of Deir Yassin."

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Michael Rosen

"The sad fact about the state of Israel is that it has turned many Jews from being internationalists into nationalists, in the odd position of rooting for a country they don't live in. I am supporting this memorial for the victims of Deir Yassin, because I am in the old internationalist tradition that says freedom for one people at the expense of another is not freedom at all.

“In the great persecutions of the
Jews in the 19th and 20th
centuries, my forbears appealed
to other peoples and nations for
sympathy, help and solidarity.

"When the Palestinians do the
same today, some people – some
Jews – seem confused that the
cause of their suffering could
come from a people who have
themselves suffered.

“We shouldn't let this confuse us. Times have changed. The Israeli government are not downtrodden shtetl dwellers. We should see them for what they are – a nuclear power, paid for with American money, pursuing a policy of 'ethnic cleansing'.

“Deir Yassin was an atrocity committed by Jews and we should face up to it with deep regret and in so doing, do everything we can to prevent anything like it happening again. That's why I'm here."

Frances de la Tour

"I wholeheartedly support this very
important event – the commemoration
of the 53rd anniversary of the Deir
Yassin massacre by Arabs and Jews
alike, and by all nationalities and
all countries.

“To remember is to walk side by side
down the same road towards peace
and reconciliation. "To forget is to
open the flood-gates to further
injustice and bloodshed.

“Let us stand together and lead the way for all nations to stand as one and to respect, above all, the right to self-determination. As we stand in the doorway of the 21st century, that right must belong first and foremost to the Palestinian people.”

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Nadim Sawalha

"As a small boy I heard a great deal about the Deir Yassin massacre. It was a terrifying tale. And that is probably the effect the perpetrators intended it to have upon us.

"Until then I'd lived in the innocence of the schoolboy, unaware of how cruel people can be to each other.

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“And then, one grew up to hear about the horrors of the Holocaust, and the Japanese atrocities in the Second World War, America's in Vietnam… and so on.

"Yes, I think it's essential that we keep the memories of these cruelties alive. We might come to appreciate, through them, the preciousness of tolerance and peace."

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Clive Merrison

"Many years ago I read or was shown two pamphlets: one, the housing regulations for Jews living in Nazi Germany; the other, the housing regulations for Palestinians living under Jewish jurisdiction. They mirrored each other and I heard the sound of many pennies dropping.

“Victims of the victims indeed."

Andy de la Tour and Susan Wooldridge

“Ten years ago we went on a trip to the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza strip,
hosted by the Friends of Bir Zeit University – closed at the time under Israeli military orders.
The visiting group was made up of actors, writers and directors but also included the musician,
Kirsty McColl who recently so tragically died.

“Though brief, the visit had a profound effect on us all as we witnessed the harsh reality of the
subjugation of the Palestinian people, prisoners and refugees in their own land. It became
obvious to all of us that there will be no peace in the Middle East until the legitimate aspiration
of a national homeland is achieved by the Palestinian people.”

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