2017 James Graff Memorial Lecture with Michael Lynk

PSN is pleased to be an endorsing organization of the 2017 James Graff Memorial Lecture, featuring UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Michael Lynk, which will take place on November 29, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The event takes place in Toronto, but PSN will be hosting the livestream of the event in Edmonton.

50 Years and Counting: Legality of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine
2017 James Graff Memorial Lecture, featuring Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine

Wednesday, November 29 (5:30 pm)
Education Centre South Room 158
87 Avenue & 113 Street, U of A campus (map)

Help spread the word by inviting friends to the Facebook event.

Michael Lynk is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Western University, in London, Ontario. He joined the Faculty in 1999, and has taught courses in labour, human rights, disability, constitutional and administrative law. One of the books Professor Lynk has co-edited is International Law and the Middle East Conflict (Routledge, 2011) with Susan Akram, Michael Dumper and Iain Scobbie.

In March 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Professor Lynk as the 7th Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967. He recently issued his second report that includes a detailed analysis of the international legal framework of the occupation as it continues past its 50th year. The first report Professor Lynk submitted as Special Rapporteur to the United Nations General Assembly focused on the role and challenges faced by human rights defenders in the region.

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.

This event is organized by the Canadian Friends of Sabeel and co-sponsored by Emmanuel College.

Note: if you are unable to make it to campus for the event, you can also register for the livestream yourself for $5.

100 Years Later …

100 Years Later …
Presentation by Debbie Hubbard and Dean Reidt
Thursday, November 2 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Education Centre South Room 158
87 Avenue & 113 Street, U of A campus (map)

Help spread the word! Invite your friends to the Facebook event.

Balfour_declarationOn November 2, 1917 a promise was made by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to the Zionist Federation that “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

A century later, the promise laid out the Balfour Declaration has indeed been fulfilled, but at what cost? Generations of Palestinians have only known dispossession from their homes and land and a military occupation that has violated their basic human rights.

In this presentation, human rights observers Debbie Hubbard and Dean Reidt will provide an overview of the occupation as it relates to international law and human rights, Canada’s foreign policy in relation to Israel/Palestine, access to education for Palestinian children, military detention and arrests of children, and house demolitions and the appropriation of land in the West Bank.

They will conclude with ways for all of us to participate in current national and international campaigns.

About the speakers

Debbie Hubbard and Dean Reidt served as human rights observers and accompaniers in Occupied East Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 2014-2015. Debbie recently returned to the West Bank for three weeks in March 2017. Since 2015, they have continued to share their experience and their ongoing learning about the realities of the Israeli occupation on the daily lives of Palestinians. Their goal is to see an end to the occupation and a just peace.

Debbie and Dean recently moved to the Okanagan after 25 years as residents of St. Albert.

PSN is a working group of the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG), and we thank APIRG for its ongoing support.

Sign the ‘Peace in Palestine’ parliamentary petition

Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East has launched the Peace in Palestine campaign in an effort to force Canada’s politicians to have an honest public discussion about Israel’s illegal settlements and how Canada must respond. The goal of the campaign is to have Parliament pass a motion condemning Israel’s illegal “settlements” (aka colonies), which are an ongoing obstacle to peace and violate Palestinians’ human rights.

The campaign includes a House of Commons Parliamentary ePetition open to all Canadian citizens or residents calling on the government to “demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.” The petition launched mirrors the wording of UN Security Council resolution 2334 (December 2016), and has the sponsorship of NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Helène Laverdière.

You can see organizations who have endorsed the initiative and read more about Israeli settlements and why they are an obstacle to peace.

Call on Bryan Adams to cancel performances in Israel

Canadian singer/songwriter Bryan Adams is scheduled to play three shows in Israel in December, 2017—two in Tel Aviv and one in Jerusalem, despite calls for him to respect the Palestinian-led call for a cultural boycott of Israel.

Add your voice to those calling on Bryan Adams to stand up for human rights by respecting the cultural boycott of Israel by signing the Canadian BDS Coalition’s online petition.

The shows come despite Adams public criticism of Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza:

 

The Language of Palestinian Tatreez

PSN is thrilled to host a presentation and two hands-on workshops on the history, meaning, and story behind the Palestinian traditional art of tatreez.

The Language of Palestinian Tatreez
Presentation by Wafa Ghnaim and Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim
Friday, September 29 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 2-190
Corner of 114 St & 87 Ave, University of Alberta (map)

RSVP for this free presentation on Facebook or Eventbrite.

For generations, Palestinian women have gathered together with their daughters to work collectively on traditional Palestinian tatreez embroidery projects, bonding with one another over a cup of tea. Over time, and after the exodus of Palestinians from Palestine in 1948, embroidery has become an endangered art that has been subjected to decades of cultural appropriation.

But embroidery represents more than just a village craft of old Palestine — it became the primary form of communication for Palestinian women who used needlework as a way to express their opinions, share their stories, and document their protest of occupation, war and violence.

In this presentation, Wafa Ghnaim and her mother Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim will decode and discuss the meaning and history of traditional tatreez embroidery patterns, bringing traditional Palestinian embroidery to life by revealing the profound depth in meaning, inspiration, and storytelling power that is encapsulated in each motif.

This event is free and open to the public.

PSN is a working group of the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG), and their support has made this event possible.

About the presenters

Wafa Ghnaim is an American born Palestinian businesswoman, writer and artist. Her father’s side of the family is from Yaffa, Palestine, though they now reside in Amman, Jordan. Her mother was born in Safad, Palestine, twice displaced — first, to Damascus, Syria and then to Amman, Jordan. Wafa and her two sisters began learning Palestinian embroidery from their mother when they were each about 4 years old.

Wafa is the author of Tatreez & Tea: Embroidery and Storytelling in the Palestinian Diaspora, which is based on over 30 years’ worth of oral history interviews, recorded demonstrations, lectures, journal entries and photographs from her and her mother. In the book Wafa documents, decodes and preserves the patterns, meanings and oral history of over a dozen traditional Palestinian embroidery designs passed on for generations between women in her family.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim was born in Safad, a northern city in Palestine. During the 1947-48 war, her and her family fled Palestine for refuge with the intention of returning after the war was over. Her family first fled to Damascus, Syria. Then to Manbej, a town in Northern Syria near Aleppo where they resided until 1952 when they moved to Irbid, Jordan.

Feryal learned embroidery from her mother and grandmother in Syria. Palestinian women have gathered together for generations with their daughters to work collectively on embroidery projects, bonding with one another over a cup of tea, and Feryal found solace in continuing the tradition with her own daughters.

Feryal has dedicated her life’s work to teaching young women of color the traditional art of Palestinian embroidery and fabric art, and still leads workshops and classes at all educational levels in public schools in Oregon, and is a four-time grant recipient of the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program through the Oregon Folklife Network.

For full bios of Wafa and Feryal, visit tatreezandtea.com.

Getting There

The Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) is located on the southwest corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street on the University of Alberta campus (map). ECHA is adjacent to the Jubliee Auditorium.

The building’s north entrance is closest to Room 2-190.

Parking

Parking is available at the Jubilee car park (map) and just across the street on the northeast corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street the Education car park (map).

Transit

Take the LRT to the Health Sciences Centre Station, which is located just south of ECHA.

Take Edmonton transit to the 114 Street and 89 Avenue stop of the University of Alberta bus loop (map) and walk just south to ECHA.

Cycling

Ample bicycle parking is located near the north entrance of ECHA.


Palestinian Tatreez Workshops
With Wafa Ghnaim and Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim
Saturday, September 30
$20 regular | $12 low-income/student

Morning workshop: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Afternoon workshop: 2:00  pm – 5:00 pm
University of Alberta campus

** Please note that both workshops are now full.  **

Participants will learn how to embroider a traditional Palestinian embroidery motif, using the cross-stitch technique, to create a small wall-hanging to frame. The workshop will be hosted by Wafa Ghnaim and Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, who will provide a hands-on tutorial to participants on how to embroider using traditional Palestinian techniques, focused on the preservation of the indigenous, endangered art of Palestinian embroidery.

The workshop is centered on Wafa’s book, Tatreez & Tea: Embroidery and Storytelling in the Palestinian Diaspora, which attempts to preserve the craft of embroidery as well as the art of storytelling that is encapsulated in each traditional Palestinian motif.

Wafa and her sisters grew up learning the time-honored folk art and tradition of embroidery from their mother, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim. Researching over thirty years’ worth of oral history interviews, recorded demonstrations, lectures, journal entries and photographs from her and her mother, Wafa documents, decodes and preserves the patterns, meanings and oral history of over a dozen traditional Palestinian embroidery designs passed on for generations between women in her family.

For generations, Palestinian women have gathered together with their daughters to work collectively on embroidery projects, bonding with one another over a cup of tea. Over time, and after the exodus of Palestinians from Palestine in 1948, embroidery has become an endangered art that has been subjected to decades of cultural appropriation. But embroidery represents more than just a village craft of old Palestine — it became the primary form of communication for Palestinian women who used needlework as a way to express their opinions, share their stories, and document their protest of occupation, war and violence.

All materials will be provided. Due to the preparation required for the workshop, we cannot offer refunds for cancelled registrations.

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.

 

March 23 IAW 2016 Event

The Wanted 18
Film Screening
Wednesday, March 23 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Education Centre South, Room 129
87 Avenue & 113 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

It’s 1987, and the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) against the Israeli occupation is spreading across the West Bank.

Residents of the village of Beit Sahour want local alternatives to Israeli goods, including milk, which they’ve been buying from an Israeli company. Activists in the town decide to create a co-operative dairy farm, and purchase 18 cows from an Israeli kibbutz and transport them to the West Bank.

And so begins the strange story of the 18 cows.

After some trial and error, the newly minted “lactivists” succeed, the population comes to depend on the “Intifada milk,” and the cows become a symbol of freedom and resistance. But soon the illegal cows, cherished by the Palestinians, were being sought by the Israeli army and declared “a threat to the State of Israel.”

Will the Wanted 18 live to milk another day?

With humour and passion, this film captures the spirit of the First Intifada through the personal experiences of those who lived it. Acclaimed Palestinian artist Amer Shomali illustrated The Wanted 18 and co-directed it with veteran Canadian filmmaker Paul Cowan, combining stop-motion animation, interviews, drawings and archival material to bring to life one of the strangest chapters in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Poignant and thought-provoking, humorous and serious, it shows the power of grassroots activism, peaceful resistance and courage.

National Film Board of Canada, 2014, 75 minutes


Getting There

Education Centre South is located on 87 Avenue at 113 Street on the University of Alberta campus (map).

Parking

Parking is available the Education car park (map), located just west of Education South on the northeast corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street.

Transit

Take the LRT or Edmonton transit to the University Station and walk one block south to Education Centre south (map).

Cycling

Ample bicycle parking is located near the east entrance of Education Centre South.

Edmonton Israeli Apartheid Week 2016

 

MARCH 21 – 24, 2016 ** ALL EVENTS FREE **

Palestine Solidarity Network presents a week of presentations, film screenings, and panel discussions in solidarity with Palestinian resistance to Israeli apartheid policies, and to raise awareness about the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

All IAW 2016 events are open to everyone, and are free of charge. Directions on how to get to the venues is below.

Edmonton IAW 2016 is organized by Palestine Solidarity Network with support from Independent Jewish Voices-Alberta, the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism (ECAWAR), and the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG).

For information about Israeli Apartheid Week events around the world, visit apartheidweek.org.

MONDAY, MARCH 21

Apartheid in Palestine
Featuring Dr. Ghada Ageel
Monday, March 21 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-190
SW corner of 87 Avenue & 114 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

Despite its use by former US Presidents, South African activists, and even Israeli government officials to describe the situation faced by Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank, Occupied East Jerusalem and Israel proper (’48 Palestinians), the term “Israeli apartheid” is still routinely attacked as an unfair framing of the conflict.

Based on her newly released book, Apartheid in Palestine: Hard Laws and Harder Experiences, Dr. Ghada Ageel will look at the use of the term apartheid to describe the Palestinian experience under occupation, looking at both the analogy to South African apartheid and the formal definition of apartheid as enshrined in international law.

Dr. Ghada Ageel is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta and a columnist for the Middle East Eye, an online news portal based in London, England. A third-generation Palestinian refugee, Ghada was born and raised in the Khan Younis Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip. She holds a PhD and MA in Middle East Politics from the University of Exeter and a BA in Education from the Islamic University of Gaza.

She is the contributing editor to the new book Apartheid In Palestine: Hard Laws and Harder Experiences, published in January by the University of Alberta Press. Dr. Ageel’s work has also been widely published in numerous newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide, including The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Hill, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, The Journal for Palestine Studies, Palestine Chronicle, and many Arabic newspapers throughout the Middle East.


TUESDAY, MARCH 22

Witnessing Apartheid: Activist Experiences in Palestine
Featuring Eoin Murray, Dawn Waring, and Carmen Jarrah
Tuesday, March 22 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-190
SW corner of 87 Avenue & 114 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

The reality of the Palestinian experience of Israeli apartheid is seen by most Canadians through the lens of mainstream media coverage and, increasingly, hasbara-driven misrepresentations of the situation in Palestine/Israel. Experiencing the plight of Palestinians first-hand offers an entirely different – and much more realistic – understanding of the conflict.

This panel will feature the voices, experiences, and reflections of three Edmonton activists – Eoin Murray, Dawn Waring, and Carmen Jarrah – who have recently returned from their own individual visits to Gaza, the West Bank, and Occupied East Jerusalem.

Carmen Taha Jarrah is a local writer who retired recently from a 35-year career writing and editing professional communications for government. She is a peace activist, local and international volunteer and has travelled widely in the Middle East, including making multiple visits to Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories.

She is the author of the book, Smuggled Stories from the Holy Land, which was published last March, and based on her experiences as a member of the Arab Jewish Women’s Peace Coalition from Edmonton and as a volunteer picking olives for Palestinians.

Dawn Waring has been to Palestine and Israel numerous times, including co-leading exposure trips to the region in 2009 and 2012. With the support of the United Church of Canada, in mid-December she returned from her third three-month term with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (2012, 2013, and 2015). She is a committed activist for peace with justice.

Eoin Murray is an Irish author who lived in Gaza during the Second Intifada. He recently returned from his latest trip to both Gaza, the West Bank, and Occupied East Jerusalem.


WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23

The Wanted 18
Film Screening
Wednesday, March 23 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Education Centre South, Room 129
87 Avenue & 113 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

It’s 1987, and the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) against the Israeli occupation is spreading across the West Bank.

Residents of the village of Beit Sahour want local alternatives to Israeli goods, including milk, which they’ve been buying from an Israeli company. Activists in the town decide to create a co-operative dairy farm, and purchase 18 cows from an Israeli kibbutz and transport them to the West Bank.

And so begins the strange story of the 18 cows.

After some trial and error, the newly minted “lactivists” succeed, the population comes to depend on the “Intifada milk,” and the cows become a symbol of freedom and resistance. But soon the illegal cows, cherished by the Palestinians, were being sought by the Israeli army and declared “a threat to the State of Israel.”

Will the Wanted 18 live to milk another day?

With humour and passion, this film captures the spirit of the First Intifada through the personal experiences of those who lived it. Acclaimed Palestinian artist Amer Shomali illustrated The Wanted 18 and co-directed it with veteran Canadian filmmaker Paul Cowan, combining stop-motion animation, interviews, drawings and archival material to bring to life one of the strangest chapters in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Poignant and thought-provoking, humorous and serious, it shows the power of grassroots activism, peaceful resistance and courage.

National Film Board of Canada, 2014, 75 minutes


THURSDAY, MARCH 24

BDS, Dissidence, and the Fight for Free Speech
Featuring Nisha Nath and Dax D’Orazio
Thursday, March 24 (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) Room 1-190
SW corner of 87 Avenue & 114 Street, U of A campus (map)

RSVP and invite your friends on the Facebook event page.

On February 22 the Parliament of Canada passed by a margin of 229-51 (with 57 absences or abstentions) a Conservative motion to “reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement” and “call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

The motion was the just the latest in a string of international moves aimed at slowing the rapid growth of support for the global Palestinian-led BDS movement. More than two dozen nation, state, or local laws against BDS have been put forward in the United States since 2015, the UK recently banned publicly funded institutions from participating in BDS, and Israel itself has had an anti-BDS law in place since 2011.

But these official moves are just the most recent attack on free speech related to BDS. For years, BDS campaigns by Palestinian solidarity activists on university campuses have been stifled or silenced by anti-boycott campaigns.

This panel will explore the aims of the BDS movement, official reactions to it, the relevance of the anti-BDS backlash in the context of increasingly neoliberal and militarized spheres of power, and what the implications are for broader movements of marginalized/oppressed/dissident people’s movements and free speech.

* While PSN cannot provide childcare for this event, this event is child inclusive so children of all ages are welcome in the room during the panel.

Nisha Nath is a long-time supporter of Palestine Solidarity Network-Edmonton and is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Nisha is also a contributing editor with Voices-voix and the Dissent, Democracy and the Law Research Network. Her research looks at race, security, dissent and citizenship in Canada.

Dax D’Orazio is former member of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) at Carleton University in Ottawa, which campaigned for the university to divest its pension fund from four companies complicit in human rights violations in Palestine. He is now a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta.


GETTING THERE

For events on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: The Edmonton Clinic Health Academy (ECHA) is located on the southwest corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street on the University of Alberta campus (map). ECHA is adjacent to the Jubliee Auditorium.

The building’s north entrance is closest to Room 1-190.

Parking

Parking is available at the Jubilee car park (map) and just across the street on the northeast corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street the Education car park (map).

Transit

Take the LRT to the Health Sciences Centre Station, which is located just south of ECHA.

Take Edmonton transit to the 114 Street and 89 Avenue stop of the University of Alberta bus loop (map) and walk just south to ECHA.

Cycling

Ample bicycle parking is located near the north entrance of ECHA.

For Wednesday‘s event: Education Centre South is located on 87 Avenue at 113 Street on the University of Alberta campus (map).

Parking

Parking is available the Education car park (map), located just west of Education South on the northeast corner of 87 Avenue and 114 Street.

Transit

Take the LRT or Edmonton transit to the University Station and walk one block south to Education Centre south (map).

Cycling

Ample bicycle parking is located near the east entrance of Education Centre South.

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.