Monday, May 9, 2016
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
I am contacting you on behalf of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV), a national human rights organization that promotes a resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine based on the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties.
Our organization has taken note of the fact that each year since 2012, the Liberal Party of Canada has issued a public statement celebrating Israel’s independence day, Yom Ha’Aztmaut. We find it troubling that the Liberal Party celebrates Israel’s birth as a state, while making no mention of the Palestinian casualties that resulted from this tumultuous and violent episode in history.
Israel declared statehood on May 15, 1948. It based this action on United Nations Resolution 181, which proposed that British Mandatory Palestine be partitioned into a Jewish and an Arab state, with Jerusalem under international jurisdiction. The proposed Jewish state represented 56% of British Mandatory Palestine, despite the fact that Jews constituted merely one third of the population, and owned only 6% of the land.
The native Arab population– which was never consulted– found this proposal unjust, and feared for the fate of the 45% of the population of the proposed Jewish state who were non-Jews. The leaders of the Zionist movement knew that a “Jewish state” needed a much stronger Jewish demographic majority than 55% of the population. It is no coincidence that leading up to Israel’s declaration of statehood, more than 300,000 native Palestinians were forcibly displaced by Zionist military forces.
Following Israel’s declaration of statehood, a war with surrounding Arab countries ensued, during which roughly 450,000 additional Palestinians were forcibly displaced. Israel had successfully created its desired Jewish demographic majority, but at the expense of the indigenous population. By the end of the hostilities, more than 750,000 Palestinians had been displaced from their homes and properties. During this violent process of displacement, Zionist forces erased over 500 Palestinian towns and villages from the map, and engaged in more than 33 massacres.
Israel remains to be held accountable for its original sin: the violent expulsion of the native inhabitants of the land, and the pillaging and demolition of their homes and villages. Israel not only refuses to allow these refugees to return to their homes—a requirement for Israel being admitted into the United Nations—but to this day, it vehemently denies any responsibility for their forcible displacement.
While Zionists—both Jewish and Christian—celebrate Israel’s statehood each year, the Palestinians regard May 15, 1948 as a catastrophe (nakba in Arabic), and annually commemorate this catastrophic episode in their nation’s history as Nakba Day.
With the Liberal Party declaring that Canada will be playing the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East, it seems only fair for your government to acknowledge the Palestinians’ national day of commemoration, as well as that of Israel. By celebrating Yom Ha’Atzmaut while failing to acknowledge Nakba Day, the message you are sending to Canadians is that Palestinians are of little significance. This was the message of the Conservatives under Stephen Harper.
To rectify this situation, we respectfully request that you, the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada, provide Palestinians with the same attention, dignity and respect with which you provide Zionist elements of the Jewish community, by acknowledging the Palestinians’ experience of dispossession. Only then will the Liberal Government’s statement that it intends to play the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East be demonstrated through concrete action.
I look forward to seeing your public statement in commemoration of both Yom Ha’Atzmaut and Nakba Day.
Independent Jewish Voices Canada