Canada has slowly started a “Truth and Reconciliation” process with indigenous peoples: could it also happen in Israel?

After years of ignoring the horrors of the residential school system, Canada slowly embarked on a process of “Truth and Reconciliation” with its indigenous peoples. The final report of the TRC commission was officially adopted by the Government of Canada. In Israel, however, there is still denial about the impact of the creation of the State of Israel on the indigenous Palestinians. Could this ever change? One organization is trying to educate Israeli Jews about their own history. It’s making some progress. But it’s not easy. Read more.

The Zochrot logo includes the a keyhole symbolizing the Palestinian right of return

A small Israeli NGO founded by Israeli Jews and now composed of both Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel has taken on a challenging task – educating their fellow citizens – and in particular Jewish citizens – about Israel’s violent history of expulsion of the Palestinians (or “Nakba”).

The organization is called Zochrot and it carries out a wide range of educational activities, including inviting Israelis to visit the remnants of some of the over 500 Palestinian villages destroyed by Israeli forces, a “Nakba” film festival, an annual refugee “Return” conference, educational webinars and occasional speaking engagements with groups of interested Israelis.

The work is challenging, to say the least. Jewish Israeli society is even more reluctant to examine its own past than white Canadian society has been.

Instead of official recognition (as in Canada), the Israeli government remains staunchly opposed to any such thing. In fact, it has actually passed a law (the Nakba law) which cuts off state funding to any organization which commemorates the Nakba. This includes universities or cultural centres which agree to host such events. In Israel’s Arab-language school system, Palestinian citizens are forbidden to talk about their own history!!

But those working in Zochrot remain hopeful.

“Zochrot and other Israeli NGOs have been fairly successful over the past few years in raising the Nakba to the awareness of the broad Jewish public,” says Zochrot’s web page. “Zochrot continues to challenge the Israeli Jewish public’s preconceptions and promote awareness, political and cultural change within it to create the conditions for the Return of Palestinian Refugees and a shared life in this country.”

October 17th – Meet Zochrot and learn about its challenging work

The Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine is pleased to organize a webinar with Rachel Beitarie, Zochrot’s Director, and Umar Al-Ghubari, its program director on Saturday October 17th @ 2 p.m. (Ottawa time).

Registration can be done here:.
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pF27kZQUR7qZdEmMmEe6kg

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. The event will also be livestreamed on YouTube and made available for later viewing.

____________________________________

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. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.

Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.

19 comments

  1. As there is no comparison between Canada and Israel, other than the undisputable fact that both have government based on the principles of liberal democracy and that all citizens rights are protected under law, it is very unlikely that there will ever be an Israeli government that considers the need for a “Truth and Reconciliation” process.

    However, if the Palestinian Arabs are desiring to come clean about their genocidal wars and wish to apologize to the Israelis, I believe the Israeli government would welcome the offer.

    With that, the prospects of a Palestinian Arab leadership coming to the peace negotiating table, openly, honestly, and without precondition, would be very high.

    1. Hey Mr. Sigman, This is a magistral example of the backward ideas Zochrot has to deal with. Thank you.

      BTW, we have the same racist ideas in Canada -“the Indians are backward, we helped them out, all they do is complain, their rights are protected by law”. Etc.

  2. How many years it will take for us and millions of other good decent people, who talk about and hope that Israel will soften its positions and sit with Palestinians to come to a solution, that Israeli governments together with the high ranking army officers, have absolutely no incentive to come to a solution, where they have to give up on some of the privileges they hold. Israel benefits enormously with the occupation/colonialism in many ways. Having huge piece of land, with all its resources and agriculture products. Employment for many Jews. By keeping Gaza separate, thus eliminating two million Palestinian voices and by labeling them as terrorists, helps to deflect criticism and have free hand to further their goals in West Bank. Every few years test their new weapons, new on live people, which helps the sale of billions of dollars to many countries. Farther develop and sell software and hardware to do with surveillance etc, Billions of dollars of almost all products sold to the Palestinians, first by destroying their economy and making sure that anything that Israel does not have, have to go through Israel, with a hefty markup. Another important fact that they don’t suffer any consequence from the world. On the contrary, they acquire more allies and strength all the times. So what incentive they have to give up on all of these, besides of being decent citizens of the world and stop the unimaginable suffering of millions of people. There will be no change in Israeli ways, the majority are drunk on their greed and being brain washed not to feel any guilt of what they do.

    1. Hey Jake, I am a lot more optimistic than you are. It all depends on the US. The US will support Israel as long as it is in its interest to do so. They did not support Israel before ’67. After ’67, Israel became the US key ally in the strategic oil producing region.
      But when the oil runs out, or becomes less important, or when China makes a deal with Saudi Arabia, or, or if he US can no longer support Israel because it is too engaged in South Asia, OR, OR, OR, it will drop Israel like a hot potato.
      Remember the US was opposed to Stalin. Then it became an ally of Stalin. Then it opposed Stalin. It all depends on what is in the US interest. Countries don’t have “friends” just “interests”.

      1. Sorry Peter, I differ. Before 1967 the world was very much different from now. Everything changed at 9/11. Since than the Muslims became “all terrorists” in the thinking and actions of US administration and the public. Israel”s strength is 50 fold greater, in all aspects, especially military, surveillance, espionage, trade and much more. All these are important to US and other countries. They need Israel, in order to safeguard their country plus quelling any uprising. The Zionists in US and elsewhere were much weaker and less militant back than. They grew much in strength in protecting Israel by using their clout in US politics in several ways. The Evangelists grew in their influence and on and on….. Today even if a hostile US administration will come to power and will decide that Israel is more a burden than benefit, it will not be able to go against Israel, for the above reasons.

      2. Hey Jake, Thanks for your comment.
        Yes we disagree… and we won’t know who is right for some time. You may be right, but I don’t think so.

        In short, I don’t think the Israel lobby in the US is nearly as strong as it appears. I believe that it appears very strong because, at the moment, its interests are aligned with those of much bigger lobbies – defence, oil, aviation, construction, etc. to name a few. I believe (and this remains to be seen) that when those lobbies find that supporting Israel is no longer in their interests, the Israel lobby will find itself with few friends, and less influence.

        But all points of view are worth consideration. Thanks again.

      3. Jake,

        One thing that gives me a little hope is that Israel’s military strength depends heavily on US support. They get billions each year in military support, buy the most advanced US weapons, work with US companies to develop weapons, and have unprecedented access (for foreigners) to DoD laboratories. If the US stops providing such support, or even treats Israel as it now treats Iran, things would change.

    1. Indeed, Jake. Until the Palestinian Arabs are willing to accept the fact that “RoR” is a nonstarter and at most they will get of Jerusalem is a slice of the outer neighborhoods, nothing will ever change.

      1. Mr. Sigman,
        I often hear that the RoR is a non starter. Why do you think so? Because Israel is too strong? That all depends on US support. If the US were to apply the same sanctions on Israel that it currently applies to Iran, I think Israel (which is tiny in comparison, and much more dependent on international trade) would fold like a house of cards.

    2. What you think of this, whoe’s wagging who?

      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/55687.htm
      Bipartisan bill would give Israel a veto on U.S. arms sales in Middle East

      The bill “would require the President to consult with the Israeli government to ensure [qualitative military edge] concerns are settled.”

      By RON KAMPEAS

      October 06, 2020 “Information Clearing House” – A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives would enhance protections for Israel’s qualitative military edge to include an effective Israeli veto on US arms sales to the Middle East.

      The bill “would require the President to consult with the Israeli government to ensure [qualitative military edge] concerns are settled” when it comes to arms sales to Middle Eastern countries, said the news release Friday announcing its introduction the previous day. The release came from the office of the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.
      (Complete article here:)
      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/55687.htm

      1. Hey Jake,
        Thanks.
        I think it is possible to argue either side of this.
        Is it Israel “forcing” America to guarantee it a “qualitative military edge”?
        Or is it America (including the defence industry) that has an interest in selling more arms to Israel and justifying it using the QME argument?
        After all, the defence industry must be happy that now they will sell F-35s to UAE, which means, of course, they must sell MORE MODERN F-35’S to Israel.
        We will see eventually…. best.

  3. To tell the truth, to take the first step on the long road to reconciliation, one must first know the truth. In my experience, most supporters of Israel haven’t met that condition, They do know the facts of the Nakba; they know of the exiles, the deaths, the misery of people in the occupied areas, the destroyed villages, etc., but they make excuses. Among those excuses:

    ▪ God gave this land to us and us alone.
    ▪ We have an unconditional right to return to our homeland.
    ▪ We were victims in the Holocaust and have a right to take compensation.
    ▪ We had no place else to go.
    ▪ They started a war against us.
    ▪ They all want to kill us so coexistence is impossible,
    ▪ To the victor belong the spoils. We fought for this land and won.

    None of these things is true but they are deeply ingrained in the psyches of those who defend Israel’s actions. It is the falsehood of the above myths that needs to be learned not just the facts of the Nakba. Israel’s supporters need to understand that there is no excuse for what was done to Palestinian Arabs. The Nakba is inexcusable.

    1. David,

      Most of your list are the old excuses before the age of the “new historians.” However, two of your list are absolutely true. “They started a war against us,” and “They all want to kill us.” Jews did not come with an army. They legally immigrated, they invested, they improved, and they were threatened with genocide..

      That the Arabs waged a genocidal war has been proven well beyond doubt.

      The “Nakba.” is the absolute defeat of the Arab armies. That defeat is 100% justified. The forced evacuation of Arab villages in the area of the front lines is 100% justified.

      1. Mr. Sigman,

        All of the “excuses” in my list are things that people have said or written to me as they try to explain why the situation in Israel has to be the way it is. They may be old but they are still current. One might call them “classic”.

        It is not true that all Palestinians want to kill Jews. Most would be very happy to simply be treated the way that Jewish Citizens are treated. I heard the same, “they want to kill us” from white South Africans during Apartheid. It did not happen.

        It is often difficult to say who started a war. Many begin with minor events and the responses to them that start a “vicious circle” of escalated responses and become a war. Arabs viewed the massive migration, the land seizures and the formation of a Jewish State as aggressive acts. When they heard that land that had been occupied by Arabs (of several faiths) being declared to be a Jewish state they felt that they had to fight back against what they perceived as an invasion. They could view the declaration of the new state as an act of war.

        Most Palestinians did not want to make the world Judenfrei but to restore their rights to a land where they had lived for countless generations. They did not want genocide; they wanted liberation.

        It is true that Jews did not arrive with an Army. They migrated and then some of them formed violent militias that eventually became part of an army.

        The Nakba is far more than the defeat of the Arab armies. It began before the wars and continues today.

    1. Actually, I do publish many, many of your comments. (Probably more than any other commentator.) And, no I am not afraid that my choir will “revolt”. In fact, I think that most reasonable people find your comments unreasonable. Thank you for continuing to send them.

  4. Peter, I’m looking at the comments.

    Your gym, the JCC gym, is closed now, but here you get exactly the same experience of being the only non-Jew in the room

    1. Hey Ahik, For the record, there are a little more than 900 subscribers to the CTIP blog, I have no idea how many are Jewish. As for the now closed Jewish Community Centre Gym, where I have been going for the last several years, I think that a significant number of members are not Jewish. (Someone told me a quarter, but that is not official.) Its a great facility and the people are friendly. I feel sorry for the staff with the most recent shutdown.

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