Nakba 74: We support Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland

What is Nakba?

The British occupation/mandate of Palestine (1917-1948) supported and facilitated a colonial-settler project in Palestine called Zionism. Settlers came mainly from Europe. Israel was created in 1948 on Palestinian land after Zionist militia destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages and cities, and forced 750,000 Palestinians (3/4 of the population) out of their homeland. The refugees now number over seven million spread across the region and around the world.

This is what Palestinians call the Nakba (Catastrophe) and commemorate every year on May 15.

Nakba as ongoing process of ethnic cleansing

Israel today continues its violent project of dispossessing Palestinian land and expelling and oppressing Palestinians. It refuses to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, steals land from Palestinian owners in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Naqab, enforces a brutal siege on the Palestinian people of Gaza for more than 16 years, and discriminates against Palestinians inside Israel (occupied Palestine 1948). Palestinians are fighting back against ethnic cleansing and injustice.

Palestinian ongoing resistance

We support the struggle of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in the refugee camps and in exile and diaspora around the world to return to their homeland, and of those inside historic Palestine itself, including in Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank and Israel (occupied Palestine ‘48), to enjoy dignity, freedom and safety in their homeland.

Unfortunately, part of the official Palestinian leadership, namely, the Palestinian Authority, is engaged in security collaboration with the occupation and oppression of Palestinian dissent, including journalists and writers, as part and parcel of the Oslo process. We condemn the destructive policy of the PA, which acts as a subcontractor for the occupation and enables, rather than challenges, the ongoing Nakba.

Our vision for the future

We strongly believe that the Palestinian refugees must have and implement the right to return to their homeland, that Israeli settler-colonial structures should be fully dismantled, and that a new system should be developed where every person in historic Palestine can enjoy full dignity, freedom and safety regardless of their religious background. This is the political meaning of “liberation of all of Palestine, from the river to the sea”. In order to make this happen, the international community must isolate the Israeli regime and hold it accountable. The United Nations has a responsibility to implement Palestinian rights, including and especially the right of Palestinian refugees to return (Resolution 194).

Canada has a role to play in achieving a positive outcome by ending its complicity in the ongoing Nakba. In 1947, Canada had a large role in formulating and passing the Partition Plan (Resolution 181) for Palestine at the UN General Assembly (The New York Times called the partition plan “The Canadian plan”), which brought about the catastrophe. Since that time, the Canadian government has continued to support Israeli occupation and oppression. It is time for these policies to come to an end.

Statement co-signers (in alphabetical order):

  • Arab Left Forum (Montreal)
  • Canada Palestine Association – Vancouver
  • Canadian Arab Society London
  • INSAF (Student Group – University of Ottawa)
  • Labour for Palestine – Canada
  • Masar Badil – The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement in North America
  • Nakba Commemoration Initiative Ottawa
  • Palestine House (Toronto)
  • Palestinian Canadian Congress (PCC)
  • Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM)
  • Samidoun – Palestinian Prisoner Solidairty Network
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