A memorial to the 49 unarmed Palestinian men, women and children killed by Israeli forces on October 29, 1956 stands in the centre of the Israeli town of Kufr Qasm. Not in the West Bank. In Israel. Every Palestinian citizen living inside Israel remembers. Few Jewish Israelis have ever heard of it. Every year there is a memorial march. This year, the 60th anniversary, is special. The residents are proposing to do more than just “remember”. Learn more
In 2014, I visited a Canadian Palestinian who now lives in his hometown of Kufr Qasm. He had come to Canada to attend university and graduated from Carleton. But after living and working in Canada for several years, he became homesick and returned to his village. By coincidence, my visit corresponded with the 58th anniversary of a massacre that has deeply marked the Palestinian citizens of Israel. He took me to see the memorial march. It was very impressive, and very emotional.
Sixty years after the massacre, Kafr Qasem is no longer waiting for an apology from the government. The residents stress its comparison to the Holocaust and are launching an audio-visual spectacle including bodies, blood and brutal soldiers to convey the message to Israel: Take responsibility for what happened here.
Israeli Ministers and presidents who visited the village over the years used words like “sorry,” “disgrace” and “apology.” But the murderers were never really held accountable.
And last year the Knesset rejected with a large majority bills under which Israel would officially acknowledge its responsibility for the bloodbath.
No Israeli government officials have been invited to Saturday’s memorial events of the 60th anniversary of the Kafr Qasem massacre.
“I won’t invite the murderer into my home,” Jazi Isa, a member of the organizing committee, said this week.
“I’m not saying Bibi is the murderer, but he represents the murderers. In the Arab community, when a ‘sulha’ [peace between enemies] is made, the murderer cannot enter the victim’s house unless he says ‘yes, I did it, here is my head for you, do with it as you will.’ He must ask for forgiveness in front of everyone and pay the price.”
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Indeed, in a just & real democracy, holding criminals accountable as well as a formal apology is necessary to achieve reconciliation.
Thanks for this report. If we are to develop a methodical action plan to enable justice to become more accessible, I have been advocating that there needs to be a network of legal clinics created that are founded on the principle of acculturating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR] and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This would enable people who are being systemically dis-empowered by questionable or deceptive practices,
We have to abolish the idea of “triage” policies that make legal clinic community services only available to limited populations: this kind of trashing the principal of universality of human rights has created a backwardness of understanding of why the UDHR was created – we have a society in most countries that has no experience of being a part of the quest for universal human rights.
If we could create a task force on initiating the universal human rights version of legal clinics – we would have the beginning of the authentic adopting of an understanding of the solidarity that is required to solve major schisms between solitudes.
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