The following is an abridged edition of Hanna Kawas’s article which appears on Mondoweiss
Canadian governments have a woeful record at supporting the rights of Palestinian refugees and the current government is no different. Instead of supporting Palestinian refugees’ internationally recognized right of return, successive governments have actively undermined that right, including the current Trudeau government. With the right of return under renewed attack from Trump’s “Deal of the Century” it is essential that activists make clear Palestinian rights are not for sale
with Liberal bagman Stephen Bronfman
My experience as a Palestinian refugee started when I was in my mother’s womb, as Zionist terrorist groups chased my parents out of Yafa (Jaffa) in 1948 where my father was working and my mom was about to deliver their first child. They fled to go live in our hometown of Bethlehem. We were displaced again, a second time, after the Israeli aggression of June 5, 1967. Those pictures of young and old going across what was then called the “Allenby Bridge” was my lived experience.
Israel also refuses to allow “persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities” to return, again contradicting a UN resolution that is passed annually with a large majority. Canada has also consistently voted against this specific resolution, even though Canada’s stated foreign policy hypocritically claims that “Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 … The Fourth Geneva Convention applies in the occupied territories and establishes Israel’s obligations as an occupying power…”
Israel not only blocks Palestinian refugees from returning, but according to a recent report, studied how to push them out in the first place (otherwise known as planned ethnic cleansing): “Newly-uncovered documents reveal how Israel established the ‘Professors Committee’ in the days following the occupation to devise policies to pacify the Palestinians and make them leave the West Bank and Gaza permanently.”
I expect such arrogant flaunting of UN resolutions from the supremacist regime in Israel that uprooted my people and committed genocide against my nation. But far more upsetting and dehumanizing are the positions of Canada, that played and continues to play a pivotal role in Palestinian dispossession.
Early support for Zionism
The Balfour declaration gave initial British support and the green light for Zionist colonization. Canada was an early support to this movement, and thus carries direct and moral responsibly for the Palestinian refugee tragedy. Here are just two examples of that support:
◦ The late Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King who “was effusive with praise for Zionism when he addressed the Ottawa convention of the Zionist Federation of Canada on 4 July 1922…he applauded Britain efforts (Balfour Declaration) in aid of the Zionist cause.” (Canada and the Birth of Israel, David J. Bercuson, page 13).
◦ Lester B. Pearson, Canada’s under secretary of state, was instrumental in ensuring the passage of the U.N. Partition Resolution in 1947 and Supreme Court of Canada Justice, Ivan C. Rand was a central figure in drafting it… “The Zionists were so grateful to Canada and to Mr. Pearson for the part he played in the whole process that they called him ‘the Balfour of Canada’.” (Report of the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs published June 1985, page 49).
On May 11, 1949, Canada co-sponsored the U.N. General Assembly resolution 273(111) to admit Israel as a state to the U.N. That resolution stated: “Recalling its resolution of 29 November 1947 [regarding the Partition Plan] and 11 December 1948 [regarding the Right of Return], and taking note of the declaration and explanation made by the representative of the government of Israel before the ad hoc Political committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions (my emphasis), the General Assembly … decides to admit Israel into the membership of the United Nations.” (explanation in brackets added by the author)
Israel never implemented the Partition Plan nor the Right of Return. It seems clear 70 years later that Canada never cared about the implementation of these resolutions, it only cared about admitting Israel to the UN, and supporting the Zionist agenda in establishing Israel.
Palestinian rights are not for sale
It is wrong to ignore the Canadian government’s political betrayal of Palestinian refugees as if our cause is simply a charitable one. The Palestinian people rejected the Trump’s administration’s $50 billion because it was meant to undermine our national rights. Financial aid to Palestinians is a positive thing only when it is does not accompany the sabotage of their inalienable rights.
The Liberal government’s commitment of $110 million to the UNRWA over four years should not be allowed to buy loyalty to a government that does not miss an opportunity to support Israel and works at every turn to undermine our legitimate rights and struggles. The Palestinian Right of Return is not for sale the same way Palestine is not for sale!
Hanna Kawas is Chairperson of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine.