School children in a UN refugee camp in Jordan. This “temporary” camp has been an uncomfortable “home” to over 20,000 Palestinians for nearly 70 years. The voices of the over 5 million Palestinian refugees are rarely heard. Last September Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) organized a special interactive session to allow Canadians to hear directly from, and interact with, 3 Palestinian refugees. We are happy to share copies of their excellent presentations and moving testimonials. Read more
The over 5 million Palestinian refugees seem to be almost forgotten by the Western world which focuses instead on the fiction of the never ending peace process. Even the current PLO leadership of Mr. Mahmoud Abbas seems prepared to turn a blind eye to the fate of the refugees while it pursues the elusive goal of a “two state solution”.
On September 10th, Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) organized a live interactive session in Ottawa (using a Skype connection) to allow interested Canadians to hear directly from, and interact with, 3 different Palestinian refugees. They were:
- From Lebanon – Mahmoud Zeidan, a Palestinian born in Ein-al-Halweih, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. He is a human rights specialist working on peace building and conflict prevention in Lebanon.
- From Gaza – Yousef Aljamel, A writer living in Alnusierat refugee camp and a contributor to several books including, “Gaza Writes Back“, “The Prisoners’ Diaries” and the recently published book “Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak“.
- From Bethlehem, West Bank – Lubnah Shomali, staff member, BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights
Each of the 3 speakers started with a short powerpoint presentation describing their lives and challenges. After the presentations a lively question and answer session continued, with Canadian participants posing questions directly through Skype to the Palestinian respondents.
We asked for copies of their presentations.
Lubnah’s powerpoint presentation can be found at: https://goo.gl/wV91WN
Mahmoud’s powerpoint presentation can be found at: https://goo.gl/mXVyfZ
Yousef’s presentation is in 2 files. The first file is the powerpoint presentation. The second is his audio narration. It is possible to open both the powerpoint and the audio file at the same time. That way you can watch the ppt and listen to his narration of it.
All they are saying…
All three presenters, from different parts of the Palestinian refugee diaspora (Lebanon, West Bank and Gaza) share a daily reality of pain, humiliation and frustration.
They all agree that that they want the outside world, including Canada, to recognize Palestinian refugees as victims of the creation of the State of Israel. They were expelled from their homeland in 1947/48 because the Zionist militias wanted to have a Jewish majority in Israel and they were not Jewish. They want this wrong to be corrected.
In addition to supporting their right to return to live in peace where they came from, there are also some short term things that Canada could do. One minimal way would be for Canada to resume its funding for UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for providing education and health services to Palestinian refugees. Mr. Harper’s government cut off funding to UNRWA. Mr. Trudeau’s government is still dithering over whether to resume this humanitarian assistance.
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