Prime Minister Trudeau claims Canada and Israel “share common values”. Do those values include the right to expel people from their own homes?

Israeli courts have given the go ahead to expel many Palestinian families from homes they have lived in for nearly 70 years. They will get no compensation and will be out on the street unless the international community intervenes. This is not an eviction for any public purpose other than to increase Jewish domination in Jerusalem. Many European countries have objected strenuously. Canada, which says it shares “common values” with Israel, is silent once again. Read more…

Before the end of May, four Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, numbering 27 people, will be thrown out of their homes and into the street, to be replaced by Israeli settlers. 

Sheikh Jarrah is just one of the areas in East Jerusalem where Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli court orders, are expelling Palestinians – Source UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs

The fate of the families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem was essentially set in stone last February when an Israeli district court rejected their appeal, ordering them to vacate their homes by May 2, 2021. (That deadline has now been “mercifully” extended to after Ramadan ends on May 18th)

Another appeal filed by seven other families in Sheikh Jarrah, numbering 31 people, eight of them children, was rejected by the same Israeli district court in March, and the families were given until August 1, 2021, to evacuate their homes. 

If the families do not leave their homes, where they have lived for the better part of 65 years, they will be forcibly removed by armed Israeli authorities, just like their neighbors before them. 

Why is this happening?

The expulsion of Palestinians is part of an official Israeli project called “Judaization”, which means turning the multi-cultural, multi-religious city of Jerusalem into a Jewish city. The Judaization of Jerusalem has been going on slowly since the creation of Israel in 1948, but recently has intensified as the Israeli government has become emboldened and anti-Arab racism is growing dangerously.

The Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah had already been expelled from their homes elsewhere in what became Israel in 1948, along with approximately 750,000 other Palestinians.

Some of those families fled to safety in East Jerusalem which at that time was protected by Jordan. With the help of the UN refugee agency UNRWA, some of them settled in an area of East Jerusalem called Sheikh Jarrah, where they thought they would be safe.

But Israel further expanded its territory in 1967, taking over all of the rest of Jerusalem. In fact, in defiance of the world, which still sees East Jerusalem as “occupied territory”, Israel announced it was “annexing” the rest of Jerusalem. In doing so, it did not recognize the title to the houses that the Palestinian refugees had built there. (This is technically a war crime, prohibited under the 4th Geneva Convention. But Israel ignores this, and so far the rest of the world has paid little heed either.)

For over 20 years, Jewish settler organizations have been taking over houses and expelling Palestinians. Here is a short video from the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, in which one of the young Jewish fanatics explains their objective of expelling all Palestinians from Jerusalem.

The process has been well documented by Aljazeera and European media, but there have been no references to it in any Canadian media – including in our state-owned CBC.

What is Canada doing about it?

“What is Canada doing about it?” asked Leila, (not her real name) a Palestinian Canadian living in Ottawa whose parents are facing imminent expulsion from their house in Sheikh Jarrah. “Canada says it supports human rights”, she told me. “I have written to the Prime Minister asking him to intervene, but nobody answers.”

Diplomats from many European countries visited Sheikh Jarrah in March to show their countries displeasure over the impending expulsions. Canada has kept shamefully silent.

Shamefully, as Leila discovered to her dismay, Canada is keeping mum, despite the fact that we say that we are supporters of human rights. Actually, its worse than that. We are ignoring our own policy on Jerusalem.

Here is Canada’s official policy as stated on the Global Affairs website.

“Status of Jerusalem – Canada considers the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. Canada does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem.

That is Canada’s official policy. On our website. A very clear principled position. Canada does not recognize “Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem“.

That would logically mean that Canada does not accept the right of Israeli courts to decide who can live where in East Jerusalem.

However, Canada’s real policy appears to be quite different. When Israel acts in a unilateral way, applying its own laws in East Jerusalem, throwing Palestinians into the street, Canada closes its eyes and turns the other way.

Did anybody say “hypocritical””? Or is Canada showing what our real values are – the ones we share with Israel?

What can you do?

If you think that Canada should actually APPLY the principles that we say we uphold, you can write Prime Minister Trudeau, (justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca), Foreign Minister Garneau (marc.garneau@parl.gc.ca) and your own MP.

Even more importantly, forward this email to your friends. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to learn about these expulsions from any mainstream media in Canada like the CBC. Many of your friends will be as disappointed and embarassed about Canadian hypocrisy as you are.

_______________________________________________________________________________

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 Canada’s response to 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.

7 comments

  1. Thank you, Peter, for raising this important humanitarian and political issue.

    I believe we should take Trudeau seriously when he says that he and Israeli violent system share common values. Definitely, this does not represent many Canadians. As a Canadian citizen, I would like to see human dignity and rights in the center of our public policies. Unfortunately, Trudeau puts his political interests first.

    We should make our voices heard. I sent a letter to PM. We can make a difference.

  2. Thank you for writing about this. What is happening in Sheikh Jarrah is a reflection of the atrocities committed against Palestinians in Jerusalem and across Palestine by an imperial, colonial system. Condemning Israel’s war crimes is our duty as individuals and decision makers. We can’t claim fighting for justice and human rights, yet hesitate when it comes to Palestinians. It is essential to see a shift in Canada’s foreign policies towards Palestine.

  3. Thanks for this Peter. It is indeed sad that these illegal and egregious acts continue to be the facts on the ground ,yet hardly covered by the Canadian media ,including as you point out ,our own state owned CBC. Perhaps I am being overly naive but I thought , as I believe do many Canadians , that the CBC in an independent voice for journalism and reporting. Or are there pressures from political actors deciding what gets reported.

    1. Hey Steve, I agreee that we can expect that the top executives at CBC keep a close eye on what their political masters, who control their budget, are thinking. But I think there are other important factos at play.

      One obvious one is that Palestine is far away – Canadians are much more concerned about COVID, their jobs, etc. etc. than about human rights issues on the other side of the world. There is not a huge demand for information on this issue.

      In addition, many Canadians think that the Israel/Palestine conflict is about age-old hatreds between Jews and Arabs, (or Jews and Muslims) over which we can’t do much anyway. This view is not well founded, but it is very common.

      Finally, I have heard from reputable journalists that every time they write something critical of Israel they get immediately pounced on by Bnai Brith, etc. forcing them to spend valuable hours defending themselves. As a result, many avoid the issue as a huge headache.

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