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Home arrow Canada and the Middle East arrow Birthright Denied
Birthright Denied PDF Print E-mail
Apr 05, 1999 at 12:00 AM

by Hanna Kawas

Special thanks to Morgan McGuigan for preparing the electronic version of Birthright Denied.

Reviewed by Mordecai Briemberg
April 5, 1999

Hanna Kawas, a citizen of Canada asks our government to acknowledge, in his passport, a simple fact: that he was born June 2, 1948 in Bethlehem, Palestine. Our government accepts June 2. It accepts 1948. It accepts Bethlehem. But it refuses to acknowledge Palestine.

In the following pages, you can read the correspondence between Hanna Kawas and the Government of Canada on the question of his birthplace.

When I read the letters what struck me most is the resolve of Hanna Kawas to maintain his dignity, to assert his identity—which includes his place of birth—as an integral part of the Palestinian people's still unresolved claim to national rights. The letters of the Canadian government expose an obtuse tangle of facts and principles. But I was struck much more by the government proposing false names—Bethlehem Jordan, Bethlehem Israel or Bethlehem (nowhere) —to substitute for Bethlehem, Palestine.

Why such proposals?

A full answer would require an analysis of our government's overt and covert, sustained and consistent support of Zionism over the last 50 years. In Hanna Kawas' letter to the Canadian government there are references to some of this.

But there also is a short answer. Our government is prepared to humiliate its own citizens who have come here from Palestine—dispossessed of and driven from their homeland—rather than respect their dignity, minimally acknowledge their birthplace, let alone support their right of return.

Yet at the exact moment I am writing this, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, comes on the radio to tell Canadians he so opposes ethnic cleansing he is sending yet more military to bomb and make war open those NATO accuses of ethnic cleansing. Surely his claim to belief relies on our ignorance of the Canadian government's uncritical support of the well-documented Zionist cleansing of Palestine.

Or does he expect Canadian to share his government's proclivity for double-speak? The cruelest example of which is Canada's endorsation and enforcement of a policy of sanctions against the civilian population of Iraq in the nam eo fits policy of "human security." To promote "human security" our government, every month is helping to kill 6,000 or more Iraqi children under the age of five.

This is not meant to encourage cynicism, for cynicism is self-destructive. To be constructive, we must rescue valued principles and basic facts from their abusive relationship with power.

This is the encouragement inherent in Hanna Kawas' correspondence. He reminds us that basic facts and valued principles are the responsibility of each of us to uphold. And that, even when faced with the abuses of power, we can affirm and matintain our diginity.

Solidarity groups denounce Dershowitz appearance in Vancouver

September 15, 2010

“We find it appalling that the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver is sponsoring an appearance by Alan Dershowitz, who is an outright apologist for anything and everything that the State of Israel does, to open its annual fund-raising campaign,” says Bob Rosen, spokesperson for the Vancouver chapter of CanPalNet, a Palestinian solidarity organization.

“Dershowitz played a central role in the campaign to get Norman Finkelstein dismissed from the faculty of DePaul University because Finkelstein criticized Israeli behaviour and their treatment of Palestinians,” explained Stephen Aberle, a spokesperson for Jews for a Just Peace.

“We would like to ask those who are supporting Mr. Dershowitz by attending his appearance in Vancouver whether they support his efforts to muzzle academic criticism of Israeli policies, and if so, why?” continued Carl Rosenberg, spokesperson for Independent Jewish Voices. “We think that it sets a dangerous precedent when academics are dismissed because of their political positions.”

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