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Judy Haiven: It’s time for Canadian Jews to be on the right side of history

My presentation at the webinar: Nakba “Catastrophe”, 73 Years of Palestinian resistance, on May 15.

My name is Judy Haiven, and I am on the national steering committee of Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJVcanada.org).

The establishment Canadian Jewish community does not represent me or any of IJV’s  hundreds of members and thousands of supporters across Canada. 

Canada’s three Jewish establishment groups, B’nai Brith Canada, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre and CIJA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs are losing the support of even mainstream Jews in this country. 

The Jewish establishment will not admit:

  • Just this morning Israeli air strikes flattened an 11 storey tower in Gaza. The Al Jala tower housed the world reknowned Al Jazeera Network and the Associated Press (AP) both international news organisation.  I doubt this was coincidence. To see the actual destruction of the tower look at this: https://youtu.be/jow7y8wRWok from the Times of Israel.
  • Over 181 Palestinians in Gaza including 52 children have been killed and nearly 1,000 Palestinians wounded as a result of Israeli air and artillery bombardment;

Since Monday, Israeli air strikes have killed 181 Palestinians in Gaza including 52 children; 1000 Palestinians have been wounded

Reuters/AP, The Irish Times, May 15, 2021 and ABC News, May 15, 2021

The UN estimates that more than 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been forced out of their homes —since the start of “hostilities” on Monday. That’s barely 6 days ago.

11 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) on the West Bank.

The other speakers will detail events not just of the last 6 days but also of the 73 years since the Nakba. The Nakba or Catastrophe has defined and ruined generations of Palestinians. 

200 cars rally to support Palestinians on this the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba. The cars and drivers gathered at Saint Mary’s University and paraded through downtown Halifax. Here’s photo of a girl dressed up in her traditional Palestinian dress and the boys wearing dress shirts –two sporting neckties!!

Ten years ago, my family and I stood shoulder to shoulder with Palestinians  in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. We saw the Orthodox Jewish settlers invading the area and doing what they could to evict Palestinians from their homes. The Palestinians have lived there from the time Jordan controlled the land. In the 1950s, Jordan provided housing for Palestinians who had been expelled from Jerusalem in 1948. Now we see the full force of the settler colonial movement on Sheikh Jarrah– backed by the Israeli police, guns, grenades, rubber bullets, and the Zionist movement. 

Jewish settlers have been harassing, terrorising, attacking and throwing Palestinians out of their homes for years. 

The escalation in Sheikh Jarrah owes a lot to the law in Israel which says that Jews are allowed to reclaim their land and homes prior to 1948.  Of course the same law does not apply to Palestinians. Though the courts have allowed the Palestinians to pay rent – to the Jews – now the Palestinians are being evicted. 

In 2020 the Israeli supreme court ordered 13 Palest. families out of the homes where they’ve lived  for generations. Last Saturday the Israeli supreme court delayed making a decision on an appeal by four Palest. families who face eviction. There have been large support rallies – growing all the time –  for Palestinians at Sheikh Jarrah.  This further enraged  the settlers and fuelled their attacks on Al Aqsa mosque earlier this week. More than 350 Palestinians were injured when the Israelis broke windows, and fired tear gas inside in an effort to suffocate worshippers.

Some Canadian Jews are justifiably horrified at the above aggression by the Israeli government, armed personnel and many settlers.

Independent Jewish Voices Canada, which opposes the Israeli occupation and promotes a just peace, speaks for those tens of thousands of Jewish Canadians.

EKOS poll of Canadian Jews

We know that the 300,000-strong Canadian Jewish community is seriously divided on the issue of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. A 2018 EKOS poll of Canadian Jews indicates that:

  • 44% say Israel is not making sincere efforts at peace with the Palestinians
  • 37% have a negative opinion of the Israeli government
  • 30% think boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel are reasonable
  • 48% agree that “Accusations of antisemitism are often used to silence legitimate criticisms of Israel”

We salute the Palestinian demands for human and civil rights – the whole world is watching. 

Al Jala Tower– Israeli missile destroyed this 11 storey building in Gaza City on May 15. Staff were given one hour to leave before the tower was destroyed. Al Jala Tower housed Al Jazeera and AP which are major media outlets. Photo credit: Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

And for the first time we see the mainstream media begin to turn their backs on Israel. For example in yesterday’s Guardian one of  the most important columnists in Britain Jonathan Freedland   — who is Jewish — backed away and even condemned Israel. He did this  without his usual ridicule and finger pointing at Palestinians. 

Freedland is an example of major supporters and apologists for Israel who are no longer on board with Israel’s  ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Many world leaders (except for the US, Canada and the Marshall Islands) refuse to “wear” what Israel is doing.

Attention Canadian Jews:  Be on the Right Side of History. We Canadian Jews have to support the Palestinians in their fight against Israel’s colonization, racism and frankly criminal actions.   

Featured Image: photo by Fred Csasznik – Front cover of The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem by Benny Morris, Cambridge University Press 1989. Palestine refugees (British Mandate of Palestine – 1948). “Making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948” (photo: Public Domain)

See also: Day of Rage: 800 rally in Halifax in defense of Palestine

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