Thursday, April 27, 2006

Out of the Fire, Into the Frying Pan...

Before you write to correct me on the title of this blog entry, the way I wrote it is indeed correct as you'll see when I explain my situation coming from Palestine and landing here in Canada, where a similar situation has been brewing for many years.

Canada was settled by French and English explorers out looking for a quicker way to China...battles broke out between them for territory in the 'New World'. The bottom line being that England won what is now defined as Canada. However, a large French speaking population remains.

Today, there are about 8-million French-Canadians living in Canada, primarily they live in the province of Quebec and make up just over a quarter of the Canadian population. The problem was that in the first 100 years in Canada, that if you were French Canadian you were considered a second class citizen. French Canadians as recent as the the 1970's weren't allowed into managirial positions or positions of authority, they were more likely to get the subserviant roles and were essentially held down by an English power base. Canada has two official languages but outside of Quebec you wouldn't know it. This has changed since the Quebec separtist movement began. Not only has the movement made practical changes but they have also sensitized Canadians of the French history of this great country. The first parliamentary system was actualy based on that of France...later changed to reflect British parliament. Even the word 'Parliament' is based on the French ward 'Parle', to speak...but I digress.

So here I come, a new refugee from Palestine out of that firey situation into what became know as the October Crisis. Quebec separtists kidnapped and killed a political leader...the Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau - a French Canadian himself, call's out the army and declare's martial law! Pretty bad from a Canadian point of view...a step up from a Palestinian point of view.

The difference was I still have my rights.

Natural political process took place and a Quebec separtist party took control of the provincial government in 1976, who called a referendum in 1980 on the separation of Quebec from Canada, to turn Quebec into it's own country. After losing that referendum (and scaring away a good portion of the Quebec English population, not to mention a good portion of corporate Canada who had head offices here in Montreal, the resulting 'depression' if you will stunting the growth of this great province) they vowed to try again, which they did in 1995...this time getting an increased number of voters to vote 'Yes' for separation...but alas again not a majority.

Now, before you jump to conclusions and liken the Palestinians situation to that of the Quebec my separtist friends like to believe...that is not what I have in mind for this blog article.

Could you imagine if the British had held a referendum amongst Palestinians (pre-1948) to decide whether they wanted to separate and create a Jewish only area and another area for Muslims and Christians? What do you think the outcome of that would have been??

How about if after the October Crisis in 1970 the United Nations stepped in and gave Canadians a 'partition plan' to divide up the country between it's French speaking population and everybody else...but gave Canadians no say in the situation?

Here's another thought for my readers in Europe: imagine if after decades of abuse from English Canadians the French population decided they wanted to go back to France and create their own "Quebecois" nation within the borders of would that have gone over!?!?

The greatest injustice ever done to the people of Palestine was the creation of a 'Jewish only' nation within their territory, it defies any sense of logic! This injustice needs to be reversed, amends for the 500 or so destroyed Palestinian villages need to be made and finally Palestinians need to be allowed to return home. How can Israel proclaim to be a democracy if it wasn't created democratically?

If PEACE is the goal, we need a united and FREE Palestine now!


Abed. Hamdan said...

exactly, a free palestinian country will set peace and the war will end between the Palestinians and the Israelis...

Palestinian Princess said...

All we want is to be FREE!!! I don't know why the world doesn't see this... But the Israeli's do a hell of good job at propoganda, we need to learn from them, really...

Abu-Issa your writing is amazing!

Abu-Issa said...


I believe that the best place to learn is from ones advisaries.

Point of proof: Joseph Goebbels, who was Adolph Hitler's Propaganda Minister, played a large role in helping the Nazis achieve and hold on to power through propaganda. We studied his 'work' if you want to call it that, in University. He had a theory called 'Big Lie'.

In an article dated January 12, 1941 titled "From Churchill's Lie Factory" Goebbels said "...The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous."

Does the phrase: "A land without a people for a people without a land" ring any bells in that context?? Doing what you and I are doing right now, is proving to the world that that is a 'Big Lie'.

I'm a pacifist, as an extension of that I don't believe we as Palestinians need to lie, time and the truth are on our side.


tomer said...

I’m interested in your view of maybe giving back all the land to the Aboriginal s of Canada

Seeing as there was no referndum with them, asking if they want the British on their land in the first place?


The History of the land now known as Israel/Palestine can go back indefintly. I can claim Israel existed on the the land 1000 years before christ. And the Palestinians confiscated the land from Israel it via the Ottomans, Romans, Assyairans, Babylonians, Greeks, Mamluks or Christians (Or anyone I missed)

Many Palestinians, (being Ottoman imports can not), can not trance their family history to before the original state of Israel. (To be fair, maybe some can trace their family history 3000 years to the Canaanites).

If we keep on arguing about the past, it’ll just be harder to create a future. Why do you feel the need to prove the land belongs to Palestine when it can just as easily be proven it belongs to Israel?

Isn’t peace a more noble cause?

Or possibly, you don’t want Peace, you just want a Palestinian state with an Arab majority and are masking that behind a utopian ideal?

ontheface said...

I'm afraid I must agree with Tomer, A-I. We will never get anywhere if we stay stuck in comparisons and historical arguments.

Comparisons do not work, especially when circumstances are so very different. Israel/Palestine is not Quebec/Canada.

Historical claims do not work, because where will they end? With Titus? The ancient Canaanites? I have a Palestinian-Israeli friend in Nazareth who is a Maronite Christian. Her family is originally from Lebanon, but has been Palestinian for five generations. So is she actually Lebanese? Should she demand Lebanese citizenship?

The cry for justice is also a false start that undermines the search for a solution. Justice for one person could easily be viewed as injustice for another. For example, if a mother were to adopt a baby, raise it and love it, and then discover 10 years later that her adopted child was actually stolen from someone else, would it be "justice" to return that child to the birth mother? Perhaps it would be justice in the eyes of the birth mother, but it would be a huge, tragic injustice in the eyes of the adoptive mother. And what about the child, who had never known his birth mother? Would he want to be "returned" to her?

The one-state solution is lovely, but not practical. It would never be accepted by the vast, vast majority of Israelis. It will not happen in our lifetime - if ever.

In order to effect a two-state solution, both sides will have to give up on some of their dreams and make some very difficult compromises. That is reality.

If PEACE is the goal, we need to look at what exists NOW and look for a solution that is practical for BOTH sides.

Palestinian Princess said...

Fine 2 state solution... But all of the refugees need to be compensated emensly and we need to control our own border with Jordan and I have more, just gotta think... I will start my list. :P

tomer said...


Post your list when it's a bit bigger.

Abu Shaar said...

If you had asked most white South Africans in say, 1980, if they'd be living in a nonracial unitary state they'd probably say it's a lovely idea, but not practical and would never be accepted by the vast vast majority of white South Africans. That it would not happen in our lifetime--if ever

tomer said...

Abu Shaar,

You are really stuck on this South Africa issue.

Apartheid was wrong, it was a system based on racial discrimination. Blacks in Africa could not vote, go to university or run a business without a permit

Non-Jewish citizens of Israel, are citizens of Israel with the same rights and laws applied to them as any other citizen.

Palestianians, living in what is now an occupied automous region, but will soon hopefully be a free state, also have those rights, they can vote (and did) they can go to one of the 10 universties in the Palestinian Authority (and do) and they can run a business.

I want peace… what exactly is it that you want?

Since you like the South Africa = Israel equation so much. I’m wondering…

Are you also planning to kill Jews after the occupation ends like the South African farmers being killed now?

Abu-Issa said...

Hi Tomer,

While the settling of the new world was a gradual occurance over hundreds of years, Israel was 'created artificially' and by third parties.

But yes, I would love to give all of the land back to the aboriginal people of North America...their Matriarchal society would (for one) do a much better job at taking care of the environment! Sadly, I think far too much time has passed in the case of North America's aboriginal population...but it's not too late for Palestine, it's only been 58 years and the situation can be corrected.

NOTE: I created this blog with the idea of making it a rhetoric free zone so let us avoid that trap and get to the basic issue at hand.

Throughout history, Palestine's location at the center of routes linking three continents made it the meeting place for religious, cultural and linguistic influences. The Palestinians of today reflect that rich history. For any one particular group from it's past to come forward and demand we rewind history to 'their time' and expelling anyone who doesn't fit the linguist, religious or ethnic profile of that time is ludicris!

Let's move forward.

The European immigrant population (and their ancestors) can be absorbed into a United and FREE Palestine. Where she can continue to be a melting pot of religion, language and culture.


Abu Shaar said...

Non-Jewish citizens of Israel, are citizens of Israel with the same rights and laws applied to them as any other citizen

You're kidding, right?

Abu-Issa said...

Hi Lisa,

I really appreciate you taking the time to come by and commenting on my blog.

Regarding the Israel/Palestine, Quebec/Canada comparison...I DID say it was 'Out of the Fire into the Frying Pan' insinuating a 'less' inflamed situation here in Canada.

I now realize I had un-intentionally left out one very important piece of information from my blog article which is that technically I am considered an 'anglophone' (an English speaker) by the Quebec government because I was educated in English and as such have a special status here.

English signs in public were outlawed in Quebec several years ago and despite the Supreme Court of Canada saying that this was illegal the Quebec government used the 'Not Withstanding Clause' which let's provincial governments veto any decision the Supreme Court makes that they don't like.

The U.N. even called the banning of English in public illegal...the Quebec government called the U.N. un-informed.

Starting to sound familiar?

It has also come to light that in the 90's there was a real action plan in place to 're-locate' non francophone Quebecer's outside of the province...

Is that ringing bells??

In 1995 after losing the second referendum on the separation of Quebec from Canada the leader of the separtist party in his concesion speech, blamed "money" (a euphemism for the English) and "the ethnics" for losing the referendum.

I think the Quebec separtists by separating from Canada and expelling it's non-Francophone population will be denying a large part of it's history and in the end will be worse off for it.


Abu-Issa said...

To echo Abu Shaar's last question/comment...what rights do non-Jews have?? And what are their limitations?

I'm surprised to hear that they have any rights at all!?

I know there are two different immigration papers to be filled for Jew and non-Jew...

Please enlighten us... Tomer, maybe you can contact someone in the government for us...?

Take me for example: As a non-Jewish Palestinian, born in Jerusalem what rights do I have to move back, then what rights and restrictions do I have when I'm there. Business permits...? Building permits...? Do I have access to funding for either? Can I own/buy property? Can I run for political office?

This could be an interesting case study! I look forward to hearing from you on this.


tomer said...

Let me repeat with emphasis…

Non-Jewish citizens of Israel, are citizens of Israel with the same rights and laws applied to them as any other citizen.

Palestinians, living in what is now an occupied autonomous region, but will soon hopefully be a free state, also have those rights, they can vote (and did) they can go to one of the 10 universities in the Palestinian Authority (and do) and they can run a business.

If you are not an Israeli citizen, you get your rights in the Palestinian Authority. Just as *I* have no citizen rights there.

tomer said...

English signs in public were outlawed in Quebec several years ago and despite the Supreme Court of Canada saying that this was illegal the Quebec government used the 'Not Withstanding Clause' which let's provincial governments veto any decision the Supreme Court makes that they don't like.

I fail to make the connection here, Arabic is one of the official languages of Israel and all road signs are in Arabic as well as Hebrew and English.

Arabic is also used officially in Arab municipalities and in the Education system.


While the settling of the new world was a gradual occurance over hundreds of years...

Sadly, I think far too much time has passed in the case of North America's aboriginal population...

You are legitimizing what Israel is doing here and saying, if it lasts long enough it will be fact and accepted. So why make peace now if all Israel has to do is hold out another 60 years?

For any one particular group from it's past to come forward and demand we rewind history to 'their time' ...

Sounds familiar...

Abu-Issa said...


I think we are veering off in the wrong direction here. My suggestion was genuine and not meant to be provocative.

Just to restate: If I decide that I want to return to Jerusalem right now, where I was born and my Father was born and his Father, etc. what rights do I have, first to return and then what rights do I have when I'm there? In terms of buying a house starting a business, etc.

It's possible I was mislead somewhere along the way in terms of my rights.

Let me know what you learn either here or through my email address:

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you on this.


tomer said...


Are you a citizen of Israel?

Abu-Issa said...

Hi Tomer,

No, I hold dual citizenship for Canada and the U.S. ... I left my Palestinian ID card at the border with the Israeli border guy when I left...we were required to leave it, to be picked up on our way back in...that was 1968.

Not that it should make a difference but to clarify I'm Christian.

I'm anxious to hear hear the results of this case study, to know for sure.

Thank you for your help with this.


Abu Shaar said...

The Government did little to reduce institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country's Arab citizens, who constituted approximately 20 percent of the population but did not share fully the rights and benefits provided to, and obligations imposed on, the country's Jewish citizens

--From the 2003 American State Dept. report on human rights practises

tomer said...

Abu Issa,

If you read what I said again, I was speaking of Arab Israeli Citizens in Israel. I’m not arguing with the fact an injustice may have been done to you. The fact a Palestinian homeland is needed is not in dispute.

All I said is that by law, Arab Israeli Citizens have the same rights any other Israeli Citizens have (Yes, I am aware there is discrimination, but this isn’t law or government policy… and yes I’ve read the report Abu Shaar posted.).

You aren’t an Israeli citizen; hence you do not have the rights an Israeli citizen would have. (As in any country in the world, as I do not have the rights of a Canadian citizen in Canada.)

In most countries a non-citizen resident can go to the university or open a business if he has the proper visa. Regarding those specific issues, I suggest you look up whatever it is you are going to pursue.

Abu-Issa said...


If you were born in Canada and moved to any country in the world you would still have the right to return and exercise your rights as a Canadian citizen. I was born in Jerusalem but don't have that same right to return because of my religion and that is a very sad truth.

I thank you for recognizing the injustce done to me, that truly means more than you'll ever know.

Even after Palestine becomes an official country whatever her borders may be I will still argue for a unification of Israel and Palestine. You as an Israeli and I as a Palestinian have more incommon with each other than we do with anybody else in the world.


Abu Shaar said...

Yes, I am aware there is discrimination, but this isn’t law or government policy

Read the report again.
The part about "legal discrimination". Know any Arabs who tried to get a building permit for a house addition? Or who wanted to bring their spouse from say, Ramallah?

Anonymous said...

Excuse me Lisa but who the hell do you think you are, moving from Canada to Tel Aviv because you feel at "home" there and being able to do so simply because you are Jewish, and then denying that right to its true owners, arguing "false starts" of justic and impracticality of historical claims? Cry for justice-let's try cry of hypcrisy!


tomer said...

Abu Shaar,

Do you really think there is a law somewhere that says, "Arabs can not have building permits?"

The following is from Illegal Construction in Jerusalem by Justus Reid Weiner (A Human rights lawyer and teachers international law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem)

* Arab residents who wish to build legally may consult urban plans translated into Arabic for their convenience and receive individual assistance from Arabic-speaking city employees.

* Both Arabs and Jews typically wait 4-6 weeks for permit approval, enjoy a similar rate of application approvals, and pay an identical fee ($3,600) for water and sewage hook-ups on the same size living unit.

* The same procedures for administrative demolition orders apply to both Jews and Arabs in all parts of the city, as a final backstop to remove structures built illegally on roadbeds or land designated for schools, clinics, and the like.

The above refers to Jerusalem, but I’m sure it's not different anywhere else in Israel.

The Palestinian actions regarding the same issue:
* Illegal construction has reached epidemic proportions. A senior Palestinian official boasted that they have built 6,000 homes without permits during the last 4 years, of which less than 200 were demolished by the city.

* This frantic pace of illegal construction continues despite the fact that the city has authorized more than 36,000 permits for new housing units in the Arab sector, more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents through legal construction until 2020.

* The Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an intentional campaign to subsidize and encourage massive illegal construction in the Arab sector, seeing this as part of their "demographic war" against Israel.

As for the marriage law (Which sucks) it was passed in July, 2003 the law was passed 3 months after a suicide bomber used a British passport to exit the Gaza strip and try to enter Mike’s Place (A bar I’m often at).

3 people were killed in that attack, and 50 wounded, I shudder to imagine what would have happened if the security guard had let the bomber through the entrance. Or what would happen if it was so easy for terrorists from Gaza to get an Israeli (blue) ID.

Any Palestinian "who identifies with the State of Israel and its goals, when he or a member of his family has taken concrete action to advance the security, economy or any other matter important to the State." is granted Israeli residence (Just like any Jew who comes to Israel must serve in the IDF)

What's more, in 2005 the law was amended and now allows Palestinian men over the age of 35 and women over the age of 25 to become citizens and residents (This includes about half of those requesting citizen/resident status via marriage) This amendment was made after security statistics showed that it is less likely for people of that age to be involved in terrorist activity.
A last note, there IS discrimination against Arabs in Israel, but by law Israeli Arabs are equal citizens and the supreme court of Israel and other bodies fight this discrimination whenever found.

umkahlil said...

On the credibility of Justus Reid Weiner read this:

"Commentary 'Scholar' Deliberately Falsified Record in Attack on Said"

umkahlil said...

From the EU Report on East Jerusalem:

each year Palestinians receive less than 100 building permits, and even these require a wait of several years

The Israeli authorities will only issue building permits for areas that have zoned “master plans”. The municipality produces such plans for areas marked for settlement development, but not for Palestinian areas – only Palsetinians are expected to draw up their own plans, at great (generally unaffordable) expense.

Read more:

tomer said...


Counterpunch is an organization that has put out Books such as "The Case Against Israel" and writers such as Norman Finkelstein, Neve Gordon and Gilad Atzmon contribute regularly with articles questions the Holocaust and criticizing Israel, it's safe to say the publication is quite anti-zionist.

The fact Counterpunch questioned Justus Reid Weiner's credibility while Edward Said was a regular contributor on Counterpunch is all quite questionable in itself.

How about some statistics from a source we both trust...

Ha'aretz, February 7, 2002.
Permit Requests: 219
Permit Approvals: 191

Permit Requests: 1519
Permit Approvals: 1087