The memorial by the lake

Deir Yassin Remembered unveiled its first United States memorial to the Deir Yassin massacre on September 24th 2003 on the western shore of Lake Seneca in Geneva,
New York.


Above: “The memorial by the lake” in its serene location on the shore of New York’s Lake Seneca

Left: A Palestinian woman from Jerusalem visiting the memorial

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 Anna, California in 1985, in a hate crime against Arabs. Khalil Bendib's studio is in Berkeley, California.

The bronze plaque (pictured right) describes the Deir Yassin massacre and includes the following Haiku by Randa Hamwi Duwaji, Deir Yassin Remembered’s director of poetry and verse and author of Heartbeats in the Wind: Reflections of an Arab Woman.

Earth torn roots yearning
Palestine landscape mourning
Displaced descendants

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.

The memorial

This was 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, in the grounds of the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, was dedicated on the 40th anniversary of the massacre in 1988.

Deir Yassin Remembered shall one day build a ground-breaking memorial and information centre at Deir Yassin, across the valley from the most famous Jewish holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. We believe this is the ideal location where Jews and Arabs can learn about, understand, and come to terms with their shared history – and each other.

Visit our resources page to explore writings, poems, and more photographs, including Randa Hamwi Duwaji’s consecration poem, Never again shall we forget (Word version here and PDF version here), and The memorial by the lake – one year on (Word version here and PDF version here), a poignant memoir by Deir Yassin Remembered director Dan McGowan

"Earth torn roots yearning,
"Palestine landscape mourning
"displaced descendants"

The olive tree

The bronze sculpture that sits on top of the granite plinth depicts 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 dehumanisation 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 Qur'an.

The lake site

Many visitors have since come to view the statue, which is framed by trees and the beautiful Seneca Lake about 30 feet away. They sit on a curvilinear massive bench carved from local-quarried red Medina sandstone (‘ma deena’ is an Arabic word that means 'city'). Visitors stop, look and linger for as long as they wish. And when they do move on, they inevitably take with them concern over this tragic event and its relevance in the
contemporary struggle for Palestinian human rights.