Montreal, May 15, 2023 - Below is a letter to Canada's Ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, requesting an explanation for Canada’s decision to “boycott” the United Nation’s High-Level Special Committee Meeting on the 75th Commemoration of the Nakba, which was held today at the UN headquarters in New York. Canada’s boycott of the event was reported by the Times of Israel. "Canada’s decision to boycott this UN event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba is offensive and unacceptable, and it demands an explanation."
Dear Mr. Rae,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to request an explanation for Canada’s decision to “boycott” the United Nation’s High-Level Special Committee Meeting on the 75th Commemoration of the Nakba, which was held today at the UN headquarters in New York. Canada’s boycott of the event was reported by the Times of Israel.
As you are aware, today marks the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, which means “catastrophe” in Arabic. Between 1947 and 1949, during the creation of Israel, between 700,000 and a million Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes in an apocalyptic event that destroyed Palestinian society. Over 13,000 Palestinians were killed in this period, which was characterized by scores of massacres including at Deir Yassin. With two-thirds of the Palestinian population displaced, Israeli forces demolished more than 500 Palestinian villages, expropriated refugees’ property, and stole approximately 4,244,776 acres of Palestinian land. To make sure that this injustice would be permanent, Israel banned refugees from returning to their homes.
There are today more than 7 million Palestinian refugees, including Nakba survivors and their descendants, who are living in refugee camps or in exile, many of whom reside in Canada. For those who remained in Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories, the Nakba never ended, due to ongoing home demolitions, discriminatory land policies, and other acts of persecution and violence within a system that Amnesty International has identified as apartheid.
Today, after 75 years, the United Nations finally commemorated this historic injustice for the first time. Outrageously, however, Canada reportedly made a political decision to boycott the event, just as Canada voted against the initial resolution late last year. In doing so, Canada appears to be complying with the far-right Israeli government’s campaign to undermine the event, which is premised on the offensive idea that the Nakba is a myth. It is abhorrent that Canada would decide to align itself with Israel’s racist Nakba denialism.
Canada’s decision to boycott the UN’s Nakba event sends a cruel message to Palestinians that their ongoing suffering is uniquely undeserving of Canada’s recognition. Instead, Canada should officially acknowledge the Nakba as a historic and ongoing injustice, and do much more to promote the inalienable right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. Palestinians must be allowed to exercise that right, if they so choose, in addition to qualifying for reparations and compensation for the catastrophic loss of lives, land and property.
Canada’s decision to boycott this UN event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba is offensive and unacceptable, and it demands an explanation. We look forward to receiving your prompt reply.
Michael Bueckert, PhD
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group
Michael Chong, Conservative Foreign Affairs critic
Heather McPherson, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic
Stéphane Bergeron, Bloc Québécois Foreign Affairs critic
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party
Lisa Stadelbauer, Canada’s Ambassador to Israel
David Da Silva, Canada’s Representative to the Palestinian Authority