On May 15th, Palestinian Canadian organizations remind us of the ongoing “Nakba” and call on Canada to help end it once and for all

nakba 72 statement

In November 1947 Canada voted at the UN in support of giving over 50% of historic Palestine to European Jews to allow them to create a new state after the horrible events of the Holocaust. But we paid scarce attention to the appalling consequences for the people who were already living there. A number of Palestinian Canadians remind their fellow Canadians that the Palestinian ‘Nakba”, which started 72 years ago, is not over. Read the statement of the Nakba Commemoration Initiative…

Statement from Nakba Commemoration Initiative and other Palestinian Canadian organizations

May 15, 2020

Dear friends,

In this statement we have both grief and hope to share. 

Grief: Loss of home 

Israel was created in 1948 on Palestinian land and the destroyed remains of more than 500 Palestinian villages and cities, after forcing 750 000 Palestinians to leave their homeland. They became refugees, mainly in neighboring countries, where they still live up to now. 

This is what Palestinians call Nakba (Catastrophe) and commemorate every year on May 15th.

This could not have happened without the support of the British Government at the time.

As World War I came to an end, British forces occupied Palestine (1917 – 1948). The British occupation/mandate supported and facilitated a colonial-settler project in Palestine called Zionism.  Settlers came mainly from Europe. Eventually, this led to a disaster that is still taking place up to day.

Israel prevents Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes and continues dispossession of Palestinian people and land. It has imposed a blockade against people in Gaza for 13 years now. It runs an apartheid system in Jerusalem and the West Bank and discriminates against Palestinians who remained inside Palestine 48 / Israel.

Palestinian refugees should return to their homes in Palestine according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 13:

“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”.  UN resolution 194 also supports this right.

Israel should end the blockade against people in Gaza, and end its military and violent oppression of Palestinians everywhere.

Hope: Solidarity and liberation

On this 72nd anniversary of Nakba, we believe that Canada and the international community can help with ending this tragedy and bringing a light of hope.

Many Palestinians are working towards building a new system in historic Palestine where everyone, regardless of their religious or ethnic background, enjoys dignity, freedom, and safety. 

We know that this vision is not easy to accomplish, but it is the only humane and civilized choice for the future. We need your support to make this happen.

Canada and the international community can put pressure on Israel to change its destructive behavior. This is what the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement calls for, and we support this call.

This universal concept of freedom and equality for all in historic Palestine is what we call “liberation”. Liberation from Zionism as a form of violence and militarization. 

We hope you join us in this liberation.

Statement co-signers:

Endorsed by:

  • Labour for Palestine – Canada


Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. This statement of the Nakba Commemoration Initiative does not necessarily reflect the views of Canada Talks Israel Palestine. Readers who have a different point of view are invited to make comment. 

Want to learn more about what we do? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.


  1. More to the point, this Partition of Palestine was made by Britain and the UN, without the consent of Palestinians, and it was something like 70% of the land that was given to the Jews. Britain, France and Germany were solving their problem on the backs of innocent Palestinians. That was the inception of today’s Apartheid Israel.

    1. Hey Felix, thanks for your comment.
      I think you are partly right… and partly wrong. The November 29, 1947 UN vote (that Canada supported) partitioned Mandate Palestine, giving 55% of the land to the new Jewish State. (Including most of the best land – along the coast and in the Galilee.) However, the Zionist forces wanted more and began driving as many Palestinians out of as much land as they could. In the end, they took about 78% of the land before the green line was settled.

    2. Felix, you are mostly wrong. Arab consent was not required as the Arab states, as members of the UN, were supposed to be bound by the rendered decisions. Unfortunately, the Arabs proved that the UN concept was never going to work. And it still does not 74 years later.

      As there is no apartheid in Israel, there is nothing that could be an inception. Britain abstained from the vote and did nothing to facilitate the UN decision. France and Germany were both in ruins. Their vote did not benefit them.

      1. Mr. Sigman,

        Felix Almeida pointed out that the “Partition of Palestine was made by Britain and the UN, without the consent of Palestinians”. Your reply was about the “Arab States”, Palestine was not one of the states to which you refer. It is a distraction not a response to Mr. Almeida.

        The mandate of the UN is to prevent or resolve conflicts between states and peoples. By ignoring the wishes of the many residents of Palestine who did not want to leave their homes or to become second-class (or worse) citizens, the UN did just the opposite. By approving a partition along lines that no side accepted, the UN created a conflict that still plagues the world today.

      2. Mr. Parnas,

        As Palestine was not a state, neither the Jewish residents nor the Arab residents of British mandate Palestine got a vote. Britain did not agree to a partition and it abstained from voting. The Arab states, which attacked the Jewish state the day after the British forces left. Those Arab state had a vote. They voted against partition. They were on the losing side and rather than fulfill their oath to the UN, they went to war. And they lost.

        The partition resolution had nothing to do with Arab residents losing their home. The war their representatives waged had everything to do with them losing their homes.

        However, your last is proof why the UN must compensate those Arab families who lost their homes, if compensation is ever to be offered.

      3. Mr. Sigman,

        It does not matter whether Palestine was a state or not. It was a homeland to thousands of people whose ancestors had been living there for hundreds of years. The partition resolution and the Israeli declaration of its intent to create a Jewish dominated state violated the clearly stated requirement of both the Balfour declaration and the British Mandate for Palestine, viz. “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, ….” It is not surprising that the Arab states would not accept that action.

        You seem to believe that “to the victor belong the spoils”. Those “spoils” come with obligations. The obligations include the right of those expelled to return to their homes.

      4. Mr. Parnas,

        It does matter whether “Palestine” was a state. As far as the victor enjoying the spoils, both the Palestinian Civil War and the Arab-Israeli War were wars of defense for the Jews. The Arab invasion of the Palestinian region 1300 years earlier was certainly a case of victors enjoying spoils. For the Jews, it was a time to rescue the remnant of European Jewry and to prepare to take in the Arab Jews who became refugees due to the animosity of the Arabs taking revenge for losing the war. There were no spoils to enjoy.

        The UN partition resolution did nothing to “prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in “Palestine.” Those rights would be enshrined within the Jewish state recommended by the UNGA. However, once the Arabs declared war, the partition resolution went out the window.

        As for the Arab states refusing to accept their lawful obligation to obey UN dictates in which they have a voice, it was likely a religious matter for them as the actions of the Arab league clearly showed they could care less about the Arabs living in the Palestinian region. That attitude continues to this day.

      5. Mr. Sigman,
        The reason that whether or not Palestine was a state is irrelevant is that we are concerned about human rights, not the rights of states or ethnic groups. There were individual human beings living in Palestine before a flood of people from Europe and other parts of the World arrived with the intent of expelling and suppressing them. The rights of those residents, and the rights of their descendants were violated when Israel was formed and are still being violated now.

        The nature of any migration hundreds of years earlier is also irrelevant. All who live in that area are either immigrants themselves or descendants of immigrants. Even Abraham to whom Zionists claim that the land was promised was, according to the Bible stories, not born in the area that they now claim. He is said to have died in Hebron but his birthplace is now part of Iraq.

        I find it surprising to read a supporter of Israeli policies complaining because the Arab states had a “lawful obligation to obey UN dictates” given that Israel has repeatedly ignored or disobeyed many many UN resolutions.

        The actions of neighbouring Arab states could not, and did not, cancel the rights of the people living in Palestine.

        I hope that discussion on this site can return to the rights of the people, of all faiths and ethnicities, now living in Palestine and those excluded from returning to their family homeland. Many mistakes have been made in the past but our attention should be focused on those that are suffering now.

      6. Felix,

        I do not know that it is an exposé as it is the narrative. Your narrative contained several errors and it seemed quite original as it does not follow earlier narratives, when the archives were not open, nor does it follow the later narratives. Britain merely turned the issue over to the UN for resolution and did not endorse any plan. The UN partitioned the land fairly between a Jewish state containing about 1 million people and an Arab state containing 800 thousand people. All sides agree that Britain refused to establish conditions that would ease the UN partition decision.

  2. It helps if the truth is told. Canada did not vote to give over 50% of British mandate Palestine to Jews. They voted to partition British Mandate Palestine into two states and an international zone. the area that had the majority of the population, approx. 56% of the population, was given 56% of the land, the second state, an Arab state, consisting of 44% of the population, received 44% of the land.

    By the time the provisional government declared the existence of Israel in 1948, only 350,000 Arab residents had fled on their own volition or were forced to flee. Between the invasion of the Arab armies, whose stated goal was genocidal, and the overwhelming defeat of those same armies, an additional 400,000 Arab residents had fled or were forced to flee.

    As the stated and supported Arab goal in the conflict was genocidal, the nascent Jewish state, with so many being survivors of the Holocaust, had every right to reduce the Arab population. In contrast to every other such episode in the 20th century, it was the most humane transfer of population known to mankind.

    As the stated goal of the political party which received the plurality of the last national vote allowed by any Palestinian authority is Hamas, whose charter calls for the genocide of the Jewish people, there is no reason to believe that the goal of the Palestinian Arab is still genocide.

    BDS, according to its founder, calls for the destruction of Israel. There is no reason for Israel to believe otherwise and there is no amount of pressure by any state on earth can alter Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens from such genocidal intent.

    1. a remarkable admission, Mr. Sigman by you.

      “By the time the provisional government declared the existence of Israel in 1948, only 350,000 Arab residents had fled on their own volition or were forced to flee.”

      Exactly true. Over half the Palestinians had been forced out even before Israel was declared, and even then Israel had not said where its borders would be. (Some Zionist groups wanted to take over all of what is today’s Jordan.) Only then did surrounding Arab countries start to mount a military counter attack. By then much of the ethnic cleansing had already taken place.

      1. Stating the truth is never a remarkable admission. Sating that such is a remarkable admission is the start of a personal attack, quite unprofessional. Regardless, as the Jewish armed forces took the offensive after months of just defending the people from the Arab attacks, knowing that a regional war was in the works, there was further need to expel Arabs from the frontline areas and ensure a way to supply Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish people.

        As “Historic” Palestinian region consisted of, what looks like on 1800’s (and biblical) maps, 5-10 miles on the eastern side of the Jordon River, it is not unusual that Jews believed the Jewish state should consist of land on both sides.

        The formal Arab armies had to wait until the British departed before they could invade. Surely I do not need to tell you why. Regardless, the Arab League did approve of the 5000 man “voluntary” force that invaded in December 1947. Facts matter.

  3. Mr. Sigman,

    For the record, Omar Barghouti has consistently stated that BDS is a non-violent human rights movement that seeks freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people based on international law and universal principles of human rights. BDS has categorically and consistently rejected all forms of racism and discrimination including anti-Semitism.

    1. For the record, Barghouti’s statement are only for the record. In reality, Barghouti supports terrorism and the destruction of Israel. Just as Arafat made statements in English “rejected all forms of racism and discrimination including anti-Semitism,” that was also for the record. In Arabi, Arafat preached antisemitism and genocide.

  4. Mr. Parnas,

    As only a state can enforce human rights as the UN has no enforcement mechanism, knowingly not including such in the Universal Declaration, it is of utmost importance as to the former status of the Palestinian region.

    As there was no flood of immigrants whose intent was the expelling and suppressing the human rights of the existing residents, you point regarding such is irrelevant. The rights of those residents, and the rights of their descendants were restricted when they believed those rights enabled them to wage a genocidal war against the Jewish immigrants. You cannot logically blame the Jews for ignoring the “human rights” of those seeking to kill them. I do not recall the Allies being concerned with the Human Rights of the Germans during WWII.
    The spiritual leader of the Palestinian Arabs was not concerned with the human rights of the Jews during the Holocaust. In fact, seeing the great success the Germans’ had suppressing the human rights of the Jews, he asked that they help him due so in British Mandate Palestine.

    I am surprised that you are amazed that Israel ignores UN resolutions that are so prejudicial that UN Secretaries General have condemned the UN for such bigotry.

    It was not the actions of the Arab states that invaded Israel that caused the Palestinian Arabs to lose their homeland. It was their genocidal civil war and their alliance with the genocidal Arab armies that ensured their departure from the land. It happened to the ethnic Germans after their loss of the genocidal war they started. They were deported from lands where they lived for hundreds of years. Few non-Germans shed tears. The Palestinian Arabs suffer because of the genocidal war they started and lost.

    if you wish to alleviate the suffering of the common Palestinian Arab residing in the disputed territories, convince them to overthrow their tyrannical leadership, elect new leaders who are actually concerned about human rights, and have them come to the negotiating table, openly and honestly, with reasonable goals.

    1. Mr. Sigman,

      Yes, states are responsible for enforcing the human rights of all residents of the area that they control; it is very unfortunate when one does not accept that responsibility.

      Every human being has the right to be treated as an individual on the basis of her or his own actions. Punishing them for the actions of others who happen to share their ethnicity is a violation of their rights.

      You mention a “spiritual leader of the Palestinian Arabs”. That appears to be an allusion to a “Grand Mufti of Jerusalem” who met with Hitler. That position was created by the British military government in 1918. The “Grand Mufti ” was not chosen by, or a representative of, Palestinian Arabs residing in the city.

      It was you (on May 22) who referred to UN resolutions as “dictates” that members have a “lawful obligation to obey”. Now, you seem to be saying that israel has the right to disobey any resolutions that it does not like.

      Apparently we both disagree with the “population exchange” carried out at the end of WWII but “two wrongs do not make a right”; that population exchange cannot be used as a precedent for the expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their homeland.

      The Palestinians that I know do not need me to convince them that it is time to elect new leadership. They understand the situation far better than outsiders like us.

  5. Mr. Parnas, States have the responsibility for the enforcement of human rights in the territory in which they have sovereignty. While Israel has control of the entirety of the former British Mandate Palestine, The Palestinian Authority is in control of significant portions of the disputed Palestinian territory and Hamas has control of Gaza. While neither are states, the enforcement of human rights are their responsibility.

    While the British selected the Mufti, it was of among the candidates proposed by those who represented the Palestinian Arabs. That those representatives were autocrats and the elites who did not care what the common people wanted, there is no indication that he was not the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Arab people.

    As the resolutions from the UNGA have been recognized as prejudicial and likely antisemitic by two Secretaries General, no one can blame Israel for treating them as such. No one of any reasonable credential has declared 181 as being Islamophobic nor anti-Arab.

    While transfer population is considered wrong today, then it was not. Then it was the correct decision when the conflict was over separate people who could not typically respond except through violence, no matter if it was one or both. Therefore, the population exchange, which was far more violent than the Palestinian Arab issue, between Turkey and Greece, is the precedent. You cannot apply 2020 “morals” to 1948.

    Then the issue is convincing the Palestinian Arabs that you do not know.

    1. Mr. Sigman,

      Neither the PA in Ramallah nor Hamas in power have any real power. Israel sends it soldiers and its bombs wherever it wants whenever it wants. They arrest anyone that they want to arrest. They control the formal mandate and they have the responsibility to take proper care of the people under their control.

      The moral principles that I was taught in Hebrew School did not come with an expiry date. They were thousands of years old and they still apply. I see no difference between 2020 morals and 1948 morals. Sadly, Israel violates those moral principles every day.

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