image source Jerusalem Post. "First Autumn Crocus Blossoms in Canada Park." The article in the JP is about back-to-nature opportunities for Israelis that Canada Park provides. Yet, this photo, while seeming idyllic is, in fact, part of "memoricide"-- these Israeli people's enjoyment is provided by Canadian dollars at the expense of the dispossession of Palestinian people and the loss of their homes, villages, and lands. Palestinian people are removed from the nature. While the sweet Israeli girl in the photo above gets to enjoy the flowers in Canada Park, Palestinian children are not only denied this back-to-nature experience, they have lost their futures in this place.
One of my acquaintances, Yves Engler, has written a new article detailing the Jewish National Fund of Canada which built Canada Park in Israel with money raised in Canada. Engler has written a number of books on Canadian foreign policy, with a focus on Israel and Palestine. Earlier this year as part of a cross-Canada book tour that began in Vancouver, he came to Thunder Bay. A group that I am involved with arranged an evening talk at the university for Engler to discuss ideas from his latest book, Canada and Israel Building Apartheid. The talk was well attended and Engler provided the audience with many examples throughout Canadian history where Canada has clearly supported Israeli colonialism and Jewish settlers to Palestine.
In a recent article on Counterpunch called "Canada and the Jewish National Fund," Engler provides examples of Canadian support to the Jewish National Fund: in the late 1920s that helped them secure lands in Palestine for Jewish settlers; after the 1967 war to build Canada Park on illegally confiscated Palestinian land (which I told you about earlier in a number of posts); then, in the early 1980s, "JNF Canada helped finance an Israeli government campaign to "Judaize" the Galilee, the largely Arab northern region of Israel"; and more recently in 2007, JNF Canada has launched a campaign to raise $7 million to refurbish Canada Park.
Canada Park is barely discussed in Canadian media, so many Canadians would not be aware of its existence nor the fact that it was built using Canadian money that is tax deductible and that, disturbingly, it was built illegally on land where Palestinian villages and homes were destroyed, 10,000 Palestinian people were removed, and everything then removed from the pages of history -- a process called memoricide. Indeed, as Dr. Ismail Zayid notes about the tourist literature for Canada Park:
"The glossy guidebook, published by the JNF of Canada, has an entire page devoted to the history of the area, including the biblical, Roman, Crusader and British periods, but has no mention of these villages or their destruction. Another step in the obliteration of the villages from memory can be seen in their absence from Israeli maps."
Canadians need to become aware of how Canadian dollars and support are complicit in the continuing dispossession of Palestinian people through Canada Park, and we need to speak out about the tax deductions that Canadians get for donating money to the JNF Canada for this purpose.
You can learn more about the specifics of Canada's increasingly conservative positions internationally as Yves Engler will be returning to Thunder Bay at the end of November to give a talk on why Canada lost its bid for a Security Council seat. Along with endorsing the Israeli invasion and attack of Lebanon in 2006, voting against UN Resolutions on the rights of Palestinians. cancelling $15 m. in funding to Palestinian refugees via UNRWA, and "Heavily invest[ing] in training a Palestinian security force designed to oversee Israel’s occupation of the West Bank ... 'to ensure that the P.A. [Palestinian Authority] maintains control of the West Bank against Hamas,' as Canadian ambassador to Israel Jon Allen was quoted as saying by the Canadian Jewish News," Canada has taken up other regressive conservative positions internationally, on Iran and Haiti to Columbia and the Congo. Harper's Conservative government's other regressive international positions include, as Engler explains:
"Canada was among a small number of countries that refused to recognize the human right to water or sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On two occasions Ottawa blocked consensus at the Rotterdam Convention to place chrysotile asbestos, a known toxin, on its list of dangerous products, and in November of last year, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty refused to even consider former British PM Gordon Brown’s idea of a global tax on international financial transactions."