Six Miles Out: A Day in the Life of Gaza Fishermen

On the windy evening of January 4, 2017, 33-year-old Muhammad al-Hissi of Gaza set out with 13 of his brothers, cousins and uncles to make a living the only way they know how: fishing. But he never came home.

The family was spread out in three different boats, with the waves choppy and stiff, when the Israeli Navy appeared on the scene. The 60-ton ship rammed into Muhammad’s wooden boat and crushed it like a rock on an egg. Palestinian fishermen and the Israeli navy searched for Muhammad for three days, but his body was never found. The boat’s electric generator may have dismembered his body.

Muhammad was one of two Palestinian fishermen killed by the Israeli navy in 2017. Four others were injured, 14 were detained and five boats were seized. However, shootings at Gaza fishermen by the Israeli navy are daily occurrences, terrorizing and forcing many to abandon the sea. This pattern is set to continue into the new year, with the recent decision by Israeli officials to restrict Gaza fishermen to six nautical miles instead of the recently allowed nine (only in the southern coast).

To help shine a light on this violation of the right to earn a living this new, short documentary, Six Miles Out—produced by the We Are Not Numbers team in Gaza, with funds from the Solidarity with Gaza Fishers project of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition—features al-Hissi’s brother and cousin, who take us with them for a night of fishing. You will see for yourself just what it’s like when Israeli “hornets” suddenly appear on the scene.

What can you do to help? You can donate to We Are Not Numbers, a Gaza-based youth storytelling project, to keep its work going. You can also visit the Freedom Flotilla website to find out how to support the 2018 sailing to challenge the blockade of Gaza’s seaport.

Watch Michael Lynk’s November 29 lecture

PSN was pleased to be an endorsing organization of the Canadian Friends of Sabeel‘s 2017 James Graff Memorial Lecture, featuring UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Michael Lynk, on November 29, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

If you weren’t able to join us for the Edmonton livestream of the event, or if you’d like you revisit Michael Lynk’s insightful presentation, video of the event is now available on YouTube:

For background, read the October 26, 2017 media release and Michael Lynk’s second report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, or watch his press conference online.

Roger Waters: I hate apartheid, not Israel

Former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters is one of the highest-profile proponents of the Palestinian-led call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it “meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law.”

Ahead of his October 24 & 25 two-night run in Edmonton as part of his North American US + THEM tour, take the time to read this wide-ranging conversation with Israeli journalist Gideon Levy in Haaretz.

Why Israel, when there are so many other countries that do the same?

“Well, if you’re determined to stand on the side of truth, justice, liberty, human rights, individual freedoms, political equality, and freedom to worship whatever you want, all of that – from time to time, situations crop up that demand your attention more than other situations, because they’re blatant and they’ve been going on for a very long time. People also complain about anybody making comparisons between apartheid South Africa and Israel. But particularly in the occupied territories – but also in Israel, in my view – the comparisons are valid.

In the 1970s and ’80s, there was no question – we all focused on South Africa because it was the obvious place to focus. It was a place where it looked like all of us who took part in the Anti-Apartheid Movement, as it was called then, might have an effect, and might cause changes in policy in that small part of the world. Israel is that bit of the world now. Whether Israelis or anyone else like it or not, it just is.”

Fifty years of occupation

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, which began with Israeli airstrikes on Egypt on June 5, 1967 to commence the so-called Six-Day War.

Here are some resources to help you learn more about the events of 50 years ago, and what the Occupation has meant for Palestinians living under it for the last half-century.

50 Stories of Palestinian Life Under Occupation (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory)

Israel’s occupation was a plan fulfilled (Electronic Intifada)

Israel provoked the Six-Day War in 1967, and it was not fighting for survival (Mondoweiss)

A 50-Year Occupation: Israel’s Six-Day War Started With a Lie (The Intercept)

The Unwanted ‘Bride’: Can the 1967 War Offer Opportunity for Peace? (The Palestine Chronicle)

50 years: Israeli occupation longest in modern history (Al Jazeera)

Who Started the Six-Day War of June 1967? (The Palestine Chronicle)

Israel: 50 Years of Occupation Abuses (Human Rights Watch)

Quick Facts: 50 Years of Israeli Military Rule (Institute for Middle East Understanding)

50 Years of Israeli Military Rule: Settlements & Settlers (Mondoweiss)

Why has the Occupation lasted this long? (Mondoweiss)

After 50 years of Israeli occupation, ‘now is the time’ to create Palestinian state – UN chief (UN News Centre)

Fifty years of opposition (+972)

Check out Visualizing Palestine’s latest graphic, A History of Occupation.

Watch the Al-Jazeera documentary, The War in June.

Watch the Real News Network’s interview with Norman Finkelstein, Six-Day War, 50-Year Occupation: What Really Happened in June 1967?

The Nakba at 69

Today, Palestinians around the world mark the 69th anniversary of the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”): the dispossession, forced exile, and ethnic cleansing of some 750,000 Palestinians from their land before and during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Below are some resources to help you learn about the Nakba.

Watch IMEU’s short video, Life Before the Expulsion in Palestine:

You can also read IMEU’s Quick Facts: The Palestinian Nakba.

Relive the journey of Nakba refugees using the interactive tool on the Middle East Monitor website.

Read Ramzy Baroud’s articles, “Recasting the Nakba” and “How Israel’s violent birth destroyed Palestine.”

Read about the Nakba on the Electronic Intifada.

Visualizing Palestine has created a visual map and list of the status of the 536 Palestinian villages depopulated by Israel to illustrate that return is possible. You can also visit their interactive map showing 143 years of colonization and 69 years of the Nakba.

Read the article “It’s Time For Our Prime Minister to Commeorate Nakba Day” by Tyler Levitan of Independent Jewish Voices.

For an in-depth history of the Nakba and Plan Dalet, read Ilan Pappé’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

Al Jazeera in 2008 produced an award-winning series on the Nakba, which you can watch for free below.

Parts 1 & 2:

Parts 3 & 4:

Read the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) statement on the Nakba.

The US Campaign for Palestinian rights have announced a political education campaign, Together We Rise, to mark Nakba Day. You can sign up for the series and preview the curriculum.

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has created an educational project, Facing the Nakba.

Here is some general information about the Nakba from IMEU:

General Facts & Figures

  • The Palestinian “Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic) refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine during Israel’s creation (1947-49).
  • The Nakba was not an unintended result of war. It was a deliberate and systematic act necessary for the creation of a Jewish majority state in historic Palestine, which was overwhelmingly Arab prior to 1948. Internally, Zionist Jewish leaders used the euphemism “transfer” when discussing plans for what today would be called ethnic cleansing.
  • The Nakba’s roots lay in the emergence of political Zionism in 19th century Europe, when some Jews, influenced by the nationalism then sweeping the continent, concluded that the remedy to centuries of anti-Semitic persecution in Europe and Russia was the creation of a nation state for Jews in Palestine and began emigrating as colonists to the Holy Land, displacing indigenous Palestinians in the process.
  • In November 1947, following the horrors of World War II and the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, the newly-created United Nations approved a plan to partition Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. It allocated approximately 55% of the land to the proposed Jewish state, although Zionist Jews owned only about 7% of the private land in Palestine and made up only about 33% of the population, a large percentage of whom were recent immigrants from Europe. The Palestinian Arab state was to be created on 42% of Mandate Palestine, with Jerusalem becoming an international city. (See here for map of the partition plan and subsequent 1949 armistice lines.)
  • Almost immediately after the partition plan was passed, violence broke out and large-scale expulsions of Palestinians began, long before the armies of neighboring Arab states became involved. When Zionist forces finished expanding, the new state of Israel comprised 78% of historic Palestine, with the remainder, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, falling under the control of Jordan and Egypt, respectively. In the 1967 War, Israel occupied the remaining 22% and began colonizing them shortly thereafter.
  • The Nakba did not end in 1948 and continues until today, in the form of Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land for settlements and for Jewish communities inside Israel, its destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, revocation of residency rights , deportations, periodic brutal military assaults that result in mass civilian casualties such as the one that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014, and the denial of the internationally-recognized legal right of return of millions of stateless Palestinian refugees.

The Nakba by the Numbers

  • Between 750,000 and one million : The number of Palestinians expelled and made refugees by Zionist paramilitaries, and subsequently Israeli forces, during Israel’s creation in 1947-49.
  • Between 250,000 and 350,000 : The number of Palestinians expelled from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries between the passage of the UN partition plan in November 1947 and Israel’s declaration of independence on May15, 1948 – prior to the start of the war with neighboring Arab states.
  • Approximately 7.1 million : The number of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons as of 2009, including Nakba survivors and their descendants. They are located mostly in the occupied West Bank and neighboring Arab countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, denied their internationally-recognized legal right to return to their homeland by Israel, simply because they are not Jewish.
  • Approximately 150,000 : The number of Palestinians who remained inside what became Israel’s borders in 1948, many of them internally displaced. These Palestinians (sometimes called “Israeli Arabs”) were granted Israeli citizenship but stripped of most of their land and placed under martial law until 1966. Today, there are approximately 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, who live as second-class citizens in their own homeland, subject to more than 50 laws that discriminate against them because they are not Jewish.
  • At least two dozen : The number of massacres of Palestinian civilians by Zionist and Israeli forces, which played a crucial role in spurring the mass flight of Palestinians from their homes.
  • Approximately 100 : The number of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, massacred in the town of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, by members of the Irgun and Stern Gang, pre-state Zionist terrorist organizations led by future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, respectively.
  • More than 400 : The number of Palestinian cities and towns systematically destroyed by Israeli forces or repopulated with Jews between 1948 and 1950. Most Palestinian population centers, including homes, businesses, houses of worship, and vibrant urban centers, were demolished to prevent the return of their Palestinian owners, now refugees outside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders, or internally displaced inside of them. (See here for interactive map of Palestinian population centers destroyed during Israel’s creation.)
  • Approximately 4,244,776 : The number of acres of Palestinian land expropriated by Israel during and immediately following its creation in 1948.
  • Between 100 and 200 billion : The total estimated monetary loss of Palestinians dispossessed during Israel’s creation, in current US dollars.

NDP leadership contest could shape future Palestine debate

Author Yves Engler has written a new article on how the issue of Palestine could be an important issue in the NDP contest to replace Thomas Mulcair.

Will Conservative party puffery or NDP principle determine Canada’s Palestine policy?

The Conservative party leadership campaign has unleashed pro-Israel puffery, but it is the NDP race that could have greater impact on Canada’s Palestine policy.

Aping Donald Trump, former Conservative minister Kellie Leitch recently asked her Twitter followers to “join me in calling on the Government of Canada to immediately move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.” This would likely contravene international law.

For her part, former cabinet minister and fellow leadership candidate Lisa Raitt dubbed the recently passed UN Security Council Resolution (2334) on Palestine “disgusting.” Offering Israel a diplomatic blank cheque, Raitt said her government would make sure Canada’s voice was heard “loud and clear all over the world as Israel’s best friend and ally — no matter what.”

Another former member of cabinet running to be party leader labelled most of the world anti-Semitic. Chris Alexander called Resolution 2334, which passed 14-0 with a U.S. abstention, “yet another round of UN anti-Semitism.”

A Facebook ad for former foreign minister and leadership frontrunner Maxime Bernier was titled “my foreign policy is simple: put Canada first.” It linked to a petition saying, “foreign policy must focus on the security and prosperity of Canadians — not pleasing the dysfunctional United Nations…which for years has disproportionately focused its activities on condemning Israel.” Evidently, putting “Canada first” means advancing Israel’s diplomatic interests.

While “I heart Israel” and “I really heart Israel” bile flows out of Republican Party North, it is the NDP contest that’s more likely to shape the Palestine debate going forward. Since party members rejected leader Thomas Mulcair, who once said “I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances,” the Canadian Jewish News has run an editorial, front-page story and column expressing concern about how the NDP’s leftward shift will impact Israel policy. Continue reading “NDP leadership contest could shape future Palestine debate”

The Nakba at 68

On May 15, 2016 Palestinians worldwide will mark 68 years since the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”): the dispossession, forced exile, and ethnic cleansing of some 750,000 Palestinians from their land before and during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Here are some resources to help you learn about the Nakba:

Visualizing Palestine has created an interactive map showing 143 years of colonization and 68 years of the Nakba.

Read Lessons on the Anniversary of the Nakba on The Palestine Chronicle.

The Institute for Middle East Understanding has updated its page of quick facts on the Nakba.

Read Ghada Ageel’s excellent article from last year’s commemoration, “The Nakba 67 years on: Holding tight to our long postponed dreams.”

Visualizing Palestine has created an interactive tool to show Palestine shrinking and Israel expanding since 1948.

For an in-depth history of the Nakba and Plan Dalet, read Ilan Pappé’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

Al Jazeera in 2008 produced an award-winning series on the Nakba, which you can watch for free below.

Parts 1 & 2:

Parts 3 & 4:

Here are some key facts and figures about the Nakba from the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

General Facts & Figures

  • The Palestinian “Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic) refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine during Israel’s creation (1947-49).
  • The Nakba was not an unintended result of war. It was a deliberate and systematic act necessary for the creation of a Jewish majority state in historic Palestine, which was overwhelmingly Arab prior to 1948. Internally, Zionist Jewish leaders used the euphemism “transfer” when discussing plans for what today would be called ethnic cleansing.
  • The Nakba’s roots lay in the emergence of political Zionism in 19th century Europe, when some Jews, influenced by the nationalism then sweeping the continent, concluded that the remedy to centuries of anti-Semitic persecution in Europe and Russia was the creation of a nation state for Jews in Palestine and began emigrating as colonists to the Holy Land, displacing indigenous Palestinians in the process.
  • In November 1947, following the horrors of World War II and the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, the newly-created United Nations approved a plan to partition Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. It allocated approximately 55% of the land to the proposed Jewish state, although Zionist Jews owned only about 7% of the private land in Palestine and made up only about 33% of the population, a large percentage of whom were recent immigrants from Europe. The Palestinian Arab state was to be created on 42% of Mandate Palestine, with Jerusalem becoming an international city. (See here for map of the partition plan and subsequent 1949 armistice lines.)
  • Almost immediately after the partition plan was passed, violence broke out and large-scale expulsions of Palestinians began, long before the armies of neighboring Arab states became involved. When Zionist forces finished expanding, the new state of Israel comprised 78% of historic Palestine, with the remainder, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, falling under the control of Jordan and Egypt, respectively. In the 1967 War, Israel occupied the remaining 22% and began colonizing them shortly thereafter.
  • The Nakba did not end in 1948 and continues until today, in the form of Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land for settlements and for Jewish communities inside Israel, its destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, revocation of residency rights , deportations, periodic brutal military assaults that result in mass civilian casualties such as the one that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014, and the denial of the internationally recognized legal right of return of millions of stateless Palestinian refugees.

The Nakba by the Numbers

  • Between 750,000 and one million: The number of Palestinians expelled and made refugees by Zionist paramilitaries, and subsequently Israeli forces, during Israel’s creation in 1947-49.
  • Between 250,000 and 350,000: The number of Palestinians expelled from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries between the passage of the UN partition plan in November 1947 and Israel’s declaration of independence on May 15, 1948 – prior to the start of the war with neighboring Arab states.
  • Approximately 7.1 million: The number of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons as of 2009, including Nakba survivors and their descendants. They are located mostly in the occupied West Bank and neighboring Arab countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, denied their internationally recognized legal right to return to their homeland by Israel, simply because they are not Jewish.
  • Approximately 150,000 : The number of Palestinians who remained inside what became Israel’s borders in 1948, many of them internally displaced. These Palestinians (sometimes called “Israeli Arabs”) were granted Israeli citizenship but stripped of most of their land and placed under martial law until 1966. Today, there are approximately 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, who live as second-class citizens in their own homeland, subject to more than 50 laws that discriminate against them because they are not Jewish.
  • At least two dozen: The number of massacres of Palestinian civilians by Zionist and Israeli forces, which played a crucial role in spurring the mass flight of Palestinians from their homes.
  • Approximately 100: The number of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, massacred in the town of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, by members of the Irgun and Stern Gang, pre-state Zionist terrorist organizations led by future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, respectively.
  • More than 400: The number of Palestinian cities and towns systematically destroyed by Israeli forces or repopulated with Jews between 1948 and 1950. Most Palestinian population centers, including homes, businesses, houses of worship, and vibrant urban centers, were demolished to prevent the return of their Palestinian owners, now refugees outside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders, or internally displaced inside of them. (See here for interactive map of Palestinian population centers destroyed during Israel’s creation.)
  • Approximately 4,244,776: The number of acres of Palestinian land expropriated by Israel during and immediately following its creation in 1948.
  • Between $100 and $200 billion: The total estimated monetary loss of Palestinians dispossessed during Israel’s creation, in current US dollars.

 

The Nakba at 67

May 15 is the day Palestinians worldwide will mark 67 years since the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”): the dispossession, forced exile, and ethnic cleansing of some 750,000 Palestinians from their land before and during the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

Read Ghada Ageel’s excellent article, “The Nakba 67 years on: Holding tight to our long postponed dreams.”

Attend the Edmonton commemoration dinner on May 17, hosted by the Canada Palestine Cultural Association.

Visualizing Palestine has created an interactive tool to show Palestine shrinking and Israel expanding since 1948.

For an in-depth history of the Nakba and Plan Dalet, read Ilan Pappé’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.

Al Jazeera in 2008 produced an award-winning series on the Nakba, which you can watch for free below.

Parts 1 & 2:

Parts 3 & 4:

Here are some key facts and figures about the Nakba from the Institute for Middle East Understanding:

General Facts & Figures

  • The Palestinian “Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic) refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine during Israel’s creation (1947-49).
  • The Nakba was not an unintended result of war. It was a deliberate and systematic act necessary for the creation of a Jewish majority state in historic Palestine, which was overwhelmingly Arab prior to 1948. Internally, Zionist Jewish leaders used the euphemism “transfer” when discussing plans for what today would be called ethnic cleansing.
  • The Nakba’s roots lay in the emergence of political Zionism in 19th century Europe, when some Jews, influenced by the nationalism then sweeping the continent, concluded that the remedy to centuries of anti-Semitic persecution in Europe and Russia was the creation of a nation state for Jews in Palestine and began emigrating as colonists to the Holy Land, displacing indigenous Palestinians in the process.
  • In November 1947, following the horrors of World War II and the Nazi genocide of European Jewry, the newly-created United Nations approved a plan to partition Mandate Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. It allocated approximately 55% of the land to the proposed Jewish state, although Zionist Jews owned only about 7% of the private land in Palestine and made up only about 33% of the population, a large percentage of whom were recent immigrants from Europe. The Palestinian Arab state was to be created on 42% of Mandate Palestine, with Jerusalem becoming an international city. (See here for map of the partition plan and subsequent 1949 armistice lines.)
  • Almost immediately after the partition plan was passed, violence broke out and large-scale expulsions of Palestinians began, long before the armies of neighboring Arab states became involved. When Zionist forces finished expanding, the new state of Israel comprised 78% of historic Palestine, with the remainder, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, falling under the control of Jordan and Egypt, respectively. In the 1967 War, Israel occupied the remaining 22% and began colonizing them shortly thereafter.
  • The Nakba did not end in 1948 and continues until today, in the form of Israel’s ongoing theft of Palestinian land for settlements and for Jewish communities inside Israel, its destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, revocation of residency rights , deportations, periodic brutal military assaults that result in mass civilian casualties such as the one that took place in Gaza in the summer of 2014, and the denial of the internationally recognized legal right of return of millions of stateless Palestinian refugees.

The Nakba by the Numbers

  • Between 750,000 and one million: The number of Palestinians expelled and made refugees by Zionist paramilitaries, and subsequently Israeli forces, during Israel’s creation in 1947-49.
  • Between 250,000 and 350,000: The number of Palestinians expelled from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries between the passage of the UN partition plan in November 1947 and Israel’s declaration of independence on May 15, 1948 – prior to the start of the war with neighboring Arab states.
  • Approximately 7.1 million: The number of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons as of 2009, including Nakba survivors and their descendants. They are located mostly in the occupied West Bank and neighboring Arab countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, denied their internationally recognized legal right to return to their homeland by Israel, simply because they are not Jewish.
  • Approximately 150,000 : The number of Palestinians who remained inside what became Israel’s borders in 1948, many of them internally displaced. These Palestinians (sometimes called “Israeli Arabs”) were granted Israeli citizenship but stripped of most of their land and placed under martial law until 1966. Today, there are approximately 1.6 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, who live as second-class citizens in their own homeland, subject to more than 50 laws that discriminate against them because they are not Jewish.
  • At least two dozen: The number of massacres of Palestinian civilians by Zionist and Israeli forces, which played a crucial role in spurring the mass flight of Palestinians from their homes.
  • Approximately 100: The number of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, massacred in the town of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948, by members of the Irgun and Stern Gang, pre-state Zionist terrorist organizations led by future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, respectively.
  • More than 400: The number of Palestinian cities and towns systematically destroyed by Israeli forces or repopulated with Jews between 1948 and 1950. Most Palestinian population centers, including homes, businesses, houses of worship, and vibrant urban centers, were demolished to prevent the return of their Palestinian owners, now refugees outside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders, or internally displaced inside of them. (See here for interactive map of Palestinian population centers destroyed during Israel’s creation.)
  • Approximately 4,244,776: The number of acres of Palestinian land expropriated by Israel during and immediately following its creation in 1948.
  • Between $100 and $200 billion: The total estimated monetary loss of Palestinians dispossessed during Israel’s creation, in current US dollars.

The Nakba 67 years on: Holding on tight to our long postponed dreams

The following article by Ghada Ageel was published on May 13, 2015 in the Middle East Eye:

The Nakba 67 years on: Holding on tight to our long postponed dreams

Sixty-seven years ago, Palestinians woke up to a tragedy that ravaged their hearts and distorted Palestinian life forever. Over 800,000 people, approximately half of the population of then-mandatory Palestine, were evicted from their homes and their ancestors’ lands. The horror was engraved on all of the faces; a language and reality they shared for decades – many to this day.

Scattered all over the Middle East and prevented by Israel from returning home, dignified landowners who overnight had turned into refugees didn’t need to ask about the fate of their home. The broken bodies and spirits of hundreds of thousands forced into exile answered their question. Palestine was no more.

Today, almost seven decades after the ethnic cleansing, some of the Palestinians born in Palestine are still alive and still remember the horror of the 1948 dispossession and those miserable days. The generations who were born after the loss of their homeland – be it under the Israeli military occupation or in exile – and who didn’t witness the tragic experiences lived by parents and grandparents, do still retain the story. In their hearts and minds, the memory of the Nakba (catastrophe) is as strong, present and fresh as for those who witnessed it and so are the hopes and dreams that refuse to fade despite the savage winds of war and time.

Unable to return to their home that became present-day Israel, Palestinian refugees were obliged to live in great uncertainty about their future in the 59 refugee camps established by the United Nations. There, they awaited action by the international community to pressure Israel to implement the right of return. Sitting in their tents winter after winter, the only hope for them back then was the one offered by Article 11 of UN Resolution 194 of 1948, which resolves that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date”. Sixty-seven years after that belated date, millions of Palestinian refugees are still barred from returning home and still live a life of perpetual waiting, enduring multiple hardships in their long exile.

A quick glimpse at the situation of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, the refugees locked in the Gaza prison, those living behind the apartheid wall in the West Bank, those Palestinians who are currently on the run for their lives in Yemen and those risking their lives in the Mediterranean taking death journeys to escape insecurity and search for safety for their families, tells the same old and new story of continued Nakba, one of constant suffering with no end in sight.

Horrific pictures and catastrophic stories of Palestinian refugees continue to come in different forms and shapes adding more unkind chapters to the devastating mother story of the 1948 disaster. Mohammed Maddi, 36 years old from Gaza, is the latest victim in the ongoing Palestinian Nakba. The young father passed away on 4 May in Abu Yussef al-Najjar hospital in Rafah refugee camp. He had waited in vain for over six months for Gaza’s only border crossing with Egypt to open. When his hopes for the opening of Rafah gate faded away, he applied for a permit to travel through Israel to receive treatment available either in the West Bank or Jordanian hospitals. A piece of paper that granted life or death, hope or despair, called a permit, was never issued despite the seriousness of Mohammed’s condition and the worsening of his health. Doctors in Gaza did all that they could given the hospital’s thin resources, severe shortages of medicines and medical products resulting from the inhumane blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation, the longest in human history. At the end of a nine-month battle with cancer, Mohammed succumbed to a fate he might have avoided had he not lived in Gaza.

Living under the constant fear and despair of possibly losing his son in Gaza – where everything is uncertain and basic life necessities such as electricity, fuel and nowadays water are unavailable for most of the day – Mohammed’s father sent a plea to the world. In an interview with Al-Watan Voice, hours before his son’s death, the father broke into tears asking the interviewer: “My son is dying a hundred times a day, every day. I want him to live for his children. Tell me where to go, please. Borders are closed, doors of life are shut and everything is closed. Can anyone tell me where to go? World, Arabs, this is unfair. Where is humanity?”

Mohammed’s tragic story and the words of his father provide just a single example of what denial and oppression mean to Palestinian refugees. The story summed it all up and exposed the 67 years of open wounds. This is an ongoing Nakba for Palestinians living under the Israeli colonial enterprise, as well as for those Palestinians scattered far away from home, trapped in war zones with a suspended present and no future, no place to go, no papers, no documents, no alternatives and no hope.

On the other hand, the story of Mohammed and the words of his father create the story of a grand nation with a rich culture and history that was abandoned by humanity, yet created a determined people with aspirations and an unshakable belief in their rights and their cause. These refugees are resilient and steadfast despite the horrors to which they have been subjected. They are still able to question, rationalise and look for alternatives. They are still able to shake the silence and make their demands, love for life and anguish heard. Their story is one of Palestinian heroes in and outside Gaza hospitals working day and night on half or no salaries.

The narrative about refugees is always associated with empathy, poverty, backwardness, powerlessness and violence. The story of Palestinian refugees, however, extends far beyond the de-contextualised renderings of that mainstream narrative. Poverty and violence are imposed on Palestinian refugees who, despite the unbearable situation, are still counted among the best educated and hardest working in the Middle East. They still hold on tight to their dreams and demands for rights.

On the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, the new generations are better aware of their rights, and ready to fight to gain them back. Moreover, refugees have started to address publicly the reality that many of them have shared privately: Palestinians are being erased not just by Israel, but also by the powers and systems that endorsed the 1948 tragedy, allowing it to continue unchallenged. They are further harmed by complicit governments’ silence.

When I saw my grandmother following last summer’s barbaric Israeli assault on Gaza, she repeated to me and to my children Tarek, 14, and Aziz, 6, the same words she had said in 2012. She talked about our village, Beit Daras, from which she was expelled in 1948. She talked about its beauty, freshness, water well, land, farms and the sycamore trees that she loved dearly. She also repeated once again that she is no longer worried about the future that she’s wanted for so long. She looked to us and said “For many years, I felt as if I were walking alone. And as you know, walking alone is not a pleasant way to make a journey. Now, because of my age, I cannot walk, but I’m not alone anymore. I can now rest in peace even if I am not yet in Beit Daras. I now know that Beit Daras is in your heart, and I also know that you are not alone in your journey.”

Ghada Ageel is a visiting professor at the University of Alberta Political Science Department (Edmonton, Canada), an independent scholar, and active in the Faculty4Palestine-Alberta. Her new book “Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and harder experiences” is forthcoming with the University of Alberta Press – Canada. 

Canada’s tax-deductible support for Israel’s crimes

Yves Engler’s latest article for the Electronic Intifada.

Canada’s Tax-deductible Support for Israel’s Crimes

Yves Engler | 22 August 2014

When is a Canadian who leaves this country to join a foreign military force and participate in the killing of innocent civilians, including children, called a “terror tourist” and sent to jail? The answer is: only when that person joins a military force the Conservative government disagrees with.

Numerous ministers in the current federal government have loudly denounced the radicalization of Canadian youth in foreign wars. Last year, the Conservatives passed a law that sets a maximum fifteen year prison sentence for “leaving or attempting to leave Canada” to commit terrorism. Jason Kenney, the minister for multiculturalism, recently said the government is trying “to monitor networks that recruit and radicalize youth.”

Last month, Somali-Canadian Mohamed Hersi was sentenced to ten years in prison for attempting to join the al-Shabab militia in Somalia. Arrested at Toronto’s Pearson airport before leaving, Hersi was not found guilty of committing or plotting a specific act of violence, but according to the presiding judge, was “poised to become a terror tourist.”

Yet our government does nothing to hundreds of other Canadians who join a different foreign military force which daily terrorizes millions of people and often uses explosives to kill thousands — most of whom are civilians. Continue reading “Canada’s tax-deductible support for Israel’s crimes”