Dedication of the First Deir Yassin Memorial in the United States
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Wednesday, September 24th at 11 A.M. the dedication of a bronze sculpture, depicting an uprooted olive tree, by internationally renowned Arab-American artist Khalil Bendib will take place at One Mile Point, Geneva, New York.
”We are dedicating the first memorial in the United States in remembrance of the victims of the massacre, which occurred on April 9, 1948 at Deir Yassin, a Palestinian village on the west side of Jerusalem,”said Daniel McGowan a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Executive Director of Deir Yassin Remembered.
The Sculptor The most visible Arab-American artist working today in the USA, Mr. Khalil Bendib, a naturalized US citizen grew up in Morocco and Algeria and came to California at age 20.
After earning his Master’s at the University of Southern California, Khalil Bendib became both a political cartoonist and a professional sculptor. In 1987 he was hired as an editorial cartoonist with the Gannett Newspapers, at the San Bernardino Sun, a position he later resigned to devote himself entirely to a career in the fine arts.
In 1994, he completed his first public monument, the “Alex Odeh Memorial Statue,” a larger-than-life size bronze sculpture honoring the regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee assassinated in his Santa Ana office in 1985. Bendib also created the “Ode To Diamond Bar,” a nine-foot bronze cougar at Summit Ridge Park near Los Angeles.
His work reflects his own vision of multi-culturalism and an all-embracing pacifist belief, which stems from his personal experience as an exile from his Algerian homeland when his parents fled French-colonial death threats. Jewish and Muslim communities in California have praised Bendib as a peacemaker.
His recent accomplishments include:
Currently: Completing the “César E. Chávez Memorial Monument, Los Angeles.
June 2003: Dedication of Arab Community History, 40 x 40′ Mural, San Francisco.
April 2003: “The Spirit of GAIA” four 3’1/2 bronze wall sculptures, Berkeley.
August 2002: Artist residency at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.
March 2002: “Venus and Mars” 7-foot wall relief, Walnut Creek.
His work has been exhibited on three continents, North America, Europe, and Africa. For more information go to http://www.studiobendib.com
Amany Nuseibeh, Paletinian represetative from Australia Muna Nashashibi, Palestinian representative from England Abdeen Jabara, former head of American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Randa Hamwi Duwaji, artist and poet from Dubai Summer Sharaf, daughter of former UN diplomat from Egypt Sister Miriam Ward, Sisters of Mercy Rabbi Dovid Weiss and Rabbi Dovid Feldman from Monsey, NY Janet McMahon, editor of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs Gene Bird, Executive Director, Council on National Interests, Washington, DC
Yousef Assad, survivor of Deir Yassin and major donor from Jordan (available for phone interviews in English and Arabic)
The Olive Tree
The bronze sculpture will depict a mature olive tree, a symbol of peace, uprooted from land long owned and long inhabited by Muslim and Christian Palestinians. The trees tortured, angular lines illustrate the many decades of Palestinian dispossession. The extended branches add movement and drama; they appear dead and yet are still alive. Enjoying special status in holy books, people of all religions relate to the olive tree as a symbol of peace and enlightenment.
Visitors to the memorial will view the sculpture framed by trees and the beautiful Seneca Lake, 30 feet away. They can sit on a 12-foot curvilinear bench carved from local quarried red Medina sandstone.
The Deir Yassin Massacre:
On April 9, 1948 the Irgun and Stern Gang murdered over 100 men, women, and children in the Arab village of Deir Yassin on the west side of Jerusalem. The massacre marked the beginning of the depopulation of 750,000 Arabs from over 400 towns and villages.
The massacre at Deir Yassin is arguably the single most important event in 20th century Palestinian history. The Deir Yassin massacre is remembered as the beginning of the Palestinian diaspora.
This sculpture in Geneva, New York confirms the belief of Simon Wiesenthal that ”Hope Lives When People Remember.”
Deir Yassin Remembered:
Deir Yassin Remembered is an international organization based in Geneva, New York. Its goal is to educate the public about the history of Deir Yassin and to build a memorial at Deir Yassin on the west side of Jerusalem. In the spirit of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, essential for the success of the Middle East Peace Process, organizers of DYR feel it is important for the suffering of the Palestinians to be acknowledged and memorialized.
DYR organizers foster remembrance through conferences, peaceful demonstrations, books and articles, documentary presentations, and memorials, such as this initial one in Geneva. The DYR Board of Advisers is stratified to include half Jews and half non-Jews, half men and half women.
Current members of the Board are: Hanan Ashrawi, Mahira Dajani, Roni Ben Efrat, Marc H. Ellis, Nabila Espanioly, Maysam Al-Faruqi, Paul Findley, Norman Finkelstein, Sahar Ghosheh, Sherna Berger Gluck, Jeff Halper, Rachelle Marshall, Muna Nashashibi, Fuad Bassim Nijim, Ilan Pappe, Cheryl Rubenberg, Edward Said, Stanley K. Sheinbaum, Ahmad Tahboub, Lea Tsemel, and Mordchai Vanunu.
The directors are: Daniel A. McGowan (Geneva), Paul Eisen (London), Brian Filling (Glasgow), Avigail Abarbanel (Canberra), Asem Judeh (Victoria), and Khairieh Abu Shusheh (Jerusalem).
Go to the City of Geneva, between Rochester and Syracuse. Go to the lake frontage just north of the 4-star hotel called Geneva on the Lake at the south end of the city off Route 14.