Hikma Public Affairs Council expresses deep appreciation for the intervention made in the House of Commons on May 16th by MP Ruby Sahota on the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for “catastrophe”). We acknowledge that her courageous statement is based solely on facts and we also highly appreciate the homage she paid to the Palestine refugees, who continue to be among the most marginalized groups in the world.
Today, there are more than 7 million Palestine refugees living in the occupied West Bank, the besieged Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, who are direct descendants of approximately 700,000 Palestinians forcefully uprooted from their native land in 1948, followed by 300,000 more in 1967. Acknowledgment of the Nakba is the first step in preserving and protecting the very basic of rights for the Palestinian people, particularly the Palestine refugees who, for generations, have been without a home, without rights, and with all the hope in the world that their inalienable right of return will be granted and that they would get to live in their ancestral homeland within their lifetimes.
The Nakba, however, didn’t end in 1948 or 1967 – it continues today in the daily lives of Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, who face daily dehumanization through checkpoints, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, and lack of any economic or social security. The Nakba continues for the Palestinians living in the biggest open-air prison in the world, the besieged Gaza Strip, who go to sleep not knowing if they may not wake up the next morning. It continues for Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza who face extremely high probabilities that they might have their life ended because an Israeli occupation soldier is just having a bad day, or worse, is having a great day and is influenced by extremist Israeli politicians, such as Bezalel Smotrich or Itamar Ben-Gvir who advocate for numerous other Nakba’s because that caters to their extremist base. In 2021 alone, 78 Palestinian children were killed directly by Israeli forces. This year, in the first 4 months alone, more than 20 children were killed – a figure that does not include the children killed during indiscriminate and non-stop Israeli airstrikes for 5 days over the besieged Gaza Strip.
The continued Nakba of the Palestinian people living under this lawless occupation continues because Canada supports a culture of impunity to an Israeli government that continuously ignores and flouts international law and United Nations resolutions. For the Palestine refugees who have been displaced for generations, the recognition by MPs such as Ruby Sahota gives them hope that one day, a country like Canada, which has a strong history of principled foreign policy (eg. UN Peacekeeping, leading the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, etc…) will finally course correct a policy of turning a blind eye to the human rights abuses and apartheid acts against Palestinians.
Thank you Ms. Sahota – your courage and principled stance are to be commended and stand as an example of the kind of principled leadership we expect from our elected officials.