Stop Celebrating Palestinian Dispossession!

By Hanna
Kawas, The Palestine Chronicle, May 6, 2018

As we
approach the 70th anniversary of the total dismemberment of the Palestinian
people and nation, and as Israeli military snipers continue to pick off unarmed
protesters in Gaza with the utmost arrogance and impunity, we call on our
Jewish friends to say that now is the time to clearly disassociate from the
Zionist narrative. 
May 15
will mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba. (Photo: file)

Now is
the time to publicly say that Zionism as a political and racist ideology is the
source of immense Palestinian suffering, almost beyond comprehension.

Now is
the time to show the next generation of Palestinian youth that there is hope
for a future peace with justice, based on equality and the right of return. Now
is the time to fully recognize that Zionism has developed one of the most
repressive state mechanisms that exist today, and also recognize that the seeds
for that were planted over 70 years ago.
When top
Israeli government officials and military generals can openly and brazenly
state that “There are no innocents in Gaza” and justify the targeting of
children, there is nothing left for anyone who embraces social justice and
humanity to ponder.
In this
context, Palestinian solidarity groups in Vancouver and their supporters
recently sent the following letter to the Peretz Center, regarding their past
and current involvement in local celebrations of “Israel Independence Day”.
letter detailed how such actions not only amount to a betrayal of Palestinian
hopes and aspirations but also give cover to the Zionist lie of representing
all Jews. The Center promotes itself as supporting “values of universal social
justice” and regrettably this type of façade still holds sway in many
progressive circles, an issue not unique to just Vancouver. As the signatories
of the letter noted, universal social justice must apply to Palestinians as
the concept is hollow. To date, over six weeks later, there has been no
official reply from the Board of Directors.
Palestinians call out one last time: Stand up now and stop denying the Nakba!
This is
the full text of the letter addressed to the Peretz Center Board of Directors:
In 2012,
we questioned your involvement in local “Israel Independence Day” celebrations
as a community partner. We know you are aware that for Palestinians this is
akin to celebrating our genocide. We expressed our concerns
to you at that time and were informed that “the Peretz Center is essentially
not a political nor a lobby group.” As we noted then, being a community partner
in such celebrations is a political stand that denies the Palestinian people
their rights and their existence, whether that is acknowledged or not, and we
sincerely hope you will not insult us again with a similar answer.

We note
that last year, 2017, you were also a community
for the 69th celebration of “Israel’s founding” and are on
the list for the upcoming
70th anniversary
. We are not sure if you understand how distressing
all of this activity is for Palestinians. You said previously in 2012 you did
not want to be “marginalized in the Jewish community”. Please read the full
response on our website from 2012 to which we want to add that you should
recognize that Palestinian and Arab progressive activists also face such
dilemmas on a daily basis. Do you think we have never been approached by groups
and others with significant support and resources that hide their anti-Jewish
agenda under the guise of being anti-Israel or anti-Zionist? Yes, of course we
have, and we make every effort to refute such advances, often publicly. This is
the least we can do in moving forward the anti-racist struggle. However, your
insistence on allying with powerful Zionist forces, under the pretext of not
alienating yourselves from “the Jewish Community”, only serves to reinforce the
dangerous conflation of all Jews with Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians,
thereby contributing to anti-Semitism.

Do you
realize that the Jewish Federation of Vancouver (which organizes the “Israel
founding” celebrations that you support) also promotes 3-week trips to an IDF base for volunteers? An
“experience like no other” we are told on the Israel and
Overseas Experience
page for the Jewish Federation (this is even
worse than the Fantasy Camps a la Jerry Seinfeld!).

website states that the Center has “endeavored to maintain its core identity
and values of universal social justice, Jewish secularism and….”. Surely
universal social justice applies to Palestinians as well. And surely your
mandate of Jewish secularism is in conflict with celebrating the founding of a
theocracy, an “exclusive Jewish State” that by definition makes Palestinians
second and third-class citizens. We recognize that these are difficult issues,
but if not dealt with in a bold manner, will eventually make a mockery of not
only your Center’s ideas but also the future of genuine peace and justice for

Here are
a few simple points that we ask you to answer to give us clarification and a
better understanding of your position.

Do you
recognize the illegality of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, East
Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, as mandated by numerous UN resolutions?

Do you
recognize the Palestinian right of return, according to UN resolution 194?

Do you
recognize the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality?

We await
your reply and will post both our letter and your response on our website.
letter was signed by the Canada Palestine Association of Vancouver, the
BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish, and endorsed by the Solidarity for Palestinian
Human Rights UBC, the UBC Social Justice Center, the UBC Talon Alternative
Student Press, SAFE Vancouver – Solidarity Against Fascism Everywhere, and the
International League of Peoples’ Struggle Canada.