Friday, February 9, 2024

Palestinians In Canada Say Their Voices And History Are Being Erased


Canada Palestine immigration prejudice racism bigotry dehumanization trivialization settler colonialism history oppression narrative control censorship

“Palestinian voices have always been put under question.”

He was hung by his hands to the wall, slapped in the face, punched in the abdomen, kicked in the legs, spat on and cursed. “Are you with them?,” an Israeli Shabak officer asked him. “Are you with them?”

“No,” the Palestinian detainee said, exhausted and looking at the whip resting on the wall, knowing that it was only a matter of time before it would be used on him.

This was a daily routine for Ahmad Abu Ali during his months in Israeli detention in 1979. He was 18 years old.

Abu Ali had been falsely accused by Israel of belonging to an armed Palestinian group.

After six months, he was released, and found his way back to his family in Nablus, a Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank.

“I was just their sandbag Palestinian,” Abu Ali said. “One of hundreds.” He is now 62 and lives in Ottawa, working as a driver.

Abu Ali migrated to Canada in 1981 seeking asylum. He moved to Ottawa in 1984 after spending more than two years in Toronto. He still has faith that one day he will be able to return home to live the rest of his life in a “free Palestine.”

“That day will come,” he said. 

When news unfolded about the Hamas-led surprise attack on Israel on October 7, Abu Ali was immediately concerned that his life in Canada was going to become much more complicated.

“It was not the first time the government and the media agitated discrimination between Canadians,” he said, adding that dominant narratives tend to frame Palestinians as instigators of conflict in an imaginary world of peace and harmony.

“As if our day-to-day death and struggles under occupation is considered ‘peaceful.’”

Abu Ali said this kind of notion has produced the idea that Palestinians are somehow inherently violent. “I feel isolated as a Palestinian in this country,” he said.

For many Palestinians in Canada like Abu Ali,  the Canadian government and dominant media outlets have not only regurgitated Israeli narratives about its war on Gaza, but have also dehumanized Palestinians by distorting their stories, history and identity.

Palestinians are typically presented either as helpless victims or as dangerous terrorists. Often, they are just numbers.  (more...)

Palestinians In Canada Say Their Voices And History Are Being Erased

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