“Palestine is not just a trend” – Haligonians rally for Palestine

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KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Well over 100 people, members of the Palestinian diaspora and their allies, came to the Grand Parade in Halifax on Saturday afternoon for a rally in support of a sovereign Palestine. Organizers of the rally called for fair coverage of Palestine issues by Halifax media and for the federal government to stop selling weapons that are being used to harm and kill Palestinian civilians.

Attendants all wore masks, and made sure to adhere to the required social distancing rules and other Covid-related precautions, no doubt still hurting from the unreasonable interventions by Halifax police during the Covid-safe pro-Palestine car rally in May of this year.

Ayman Awad, representing Free Palestine Halifax, the organizers of the rally, and a member of Queer Arabs Halifax, spoke about the resilience of the Palestinian people.  

“I was born a third generation refugee, both my parents were born in refugee camps in Lebanon, all four of my grandparents were born in Palestine,” said Awad. ”They still carry not only the trauma but also all of the resilience that their grandparents had. They’ve gone through so much, but they will still laugh together, feed each other, demonstrating how even while living in a refugee camp they are still going to make the most out of the life they have. 

“When I was younger and I would visit my grandmother in a refugee camp, she would have this really ugly brown vase, but it always had flowers in it. Why don’t you get rid of this ugly vase, I would ask, and then I found out that vase was the actual rocket shell that destroyed my grandparents home in the refugee camp. They took that shell that was supposed to destroy them and created life from it,” Awad said. 

“Palestine is not just a trend. As Palestine disappears from the news on your phone, Palestine doesn’t disappear. As we speak Israeli settlers are attacking Palestinians, raiding their houses, vandalizing their properties, destroying their graves. What’s happening in Palestine is not a war and it is not a conflict, it’s genocide and apartheid. It’s cleansing of Palestinian Christians, Palestinian Muslims and Palestinian Jews,” said Dana Elborno, a young Palestinian activist speaking om behalf of Atlantic Canada’s Palestinian Society.    

Larry Haiven, a member of Independent Jewish Voices, warned about the way the accusation of anti-semitism is being used against people critical of Israel to distract and silence critics. 

“It happens like clockwork — totally predictable,” said Haiven. “First there’s open conflict in Israel/Palestine where disproportionate carnage is visited upon Palestinians. Last month, Israeli forces killed 256 Palestinians, including 66 children (compared to two on the Israeli side), injured 19,000 and rendered 58,000 homeless. Half a beat later come the accusations that the biggest problem in Canada is — wait for it — anti-Semitism. As the Jewish child of a Holocaust survivor, and critical of Israel, I’m sick of it.”

El Jones read a poem, preceded by Palestinian poet Tala Alul, who read her poem, Fire in my veins, via a remote connection. Rana Zaman mc’d, and Mi’kmaq Elder Billy Lewis, together with drummer Joan Smith, kicked off the event. “There is no need to rely on the big media to know what’s going on, just look and listen,” Lewis said. 

See also: Pro-Palestinian activists don’t feel safe in Halifax

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