Solidarity on Al-Nakba
On the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Al-Nakba – the Catastrophe – I affirm my solidarity with the many Canadians of Palestinian origin in Windsor-Tecumseh. The crimes committed in the past continue to this day with more forced removals from your land every day. I join you in condemning these violations of human rights and demanding that the settlements be stopped, violence be ended and the right of return be respected. The youth in Palestine and those of Palestinian origin born and raised in Canada are boldly affirming the Palestinian right to be. They deserve our support.
May 15 marks the 74th anniversary of the start of an ethnic cleansing operation that resulted in some 750,000 Palestinians being driven out of their homes and their lands by Israeli military forces during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The Israeli army attacked 774 cities and villages, eventually occupying 80 per cent of Palestinian lands, after killing nearly 15,000 Muslim and Christian civilians. Those who survived were forced to migrate to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and neighbouring countries such as Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Every year Al Nakba is marked by demonstrations in Palestine and other countries around the world.
In 1952 Canada’s Immigration Act officially restricted non-European immigration to Canada in an effort to “keep Canada white.” Despite this, in 1956 Canada launched an ad hoc resettlement program with the United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestine for Palestinian refugees who were displaced from their homeland. Most of those who came to Canada in the first group of refugees were industrial or construction workers.
The first Palestinian who came to Windsor under this program was Joseph Rahal. To this day, Windsor as well as neighbouring Detroit, Michigan have large Palestinian communities.