Hammam Farah, a board member of the Palestine House, was one of the speakers at the event. Here is Farah’s speech:
…Palestinians were expelled from their homeland in order to create the State of Israel in 1948. This is our national tragedy. It is a tragedy that unfortunately is denied by the Israel government and it is being denied for 71 years today. But the Palestinian people have been resilient and they still up for their rights for 71 years demanding their recognized-UN [United Nations] right of return. UN resolution 194 stipulates that refugees who leave at a time of war have the right to return to their homes after the war is over. Unfortunately, when Israel expelled the Palestinian people from their homeland they didn’t allow them the right to return, and this is why the Palestinian – Israeli conflict has been ongoing to this day.
We’re calling on everybody to recognize the Palestinian Catastrophe. It’s our national tragedy. We’re holding on to it. And we are going to say, because the world delays in holding Israel accountable for its crimes, we have a right to boycott Israel. We have a right to boycott, call for divestment and call for sanctions against Israel until Israel complies with its obligations under the international law.
If the Canadian government has done its part in holding Israel accountable and saying no to Israel war crimes, and holding it to the same standards that every other country in the world is held to internationally, there wouldn’t be a need to have a boycott, divestment and sanctions [unintelligible]. Because of the world’s failure to do its part, the international community and the powerful elite of the world have refused to do their part.
To this day Canadian politicians are standing with Israeli apartheid. [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau and obviously Andrew Scheer [Leader of the Conservative Party] have stood with [Israel’s prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government. And so we have to do our part to pressure them to change direction and to say yes to boycott, yes to hold Israel accountable until Israel fulfills its responsibilities under the international law.
Now I want to add to this that I’m very proud, very proud to be here today because the Palestine House, which is the Palestinian Canadian Community Centre in Mississauga [Ontario], just recently had its elections and it was unprecedented elections with 70% voter turnout of the Palestinian community in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area].
I was elected to the board, and I have to say that we have a good group of progressive individuals from the Palestinian community who were elected to the board, and we are going to take the Palestine House in a different direction. We have withstood pressures within the Palestinian community to separate Palestinian culture from Palestinian politics and from the politics of human rights and international law and from solidarity with Palestine. And the pressure is ongoing, but we are going to fight it. We are going to struggle against it and we are going to [unintelligible] and assert that the Palestinian struggle is intertwined with our culture. The olive tree and the dabke [Palestinian folk dance] are political. And we are going to be here, and we are going to organize the Palestinian Canadian community, and we are going to serve the Palestinian community, especially the disadvantaged people of our community, the workers, students and those who are fighting to survive and to make their needs in Canada.
We will fight for them. We are going to be a voice for them and we are going to take control from the elites, from those who work for the interest of the Palestinian elites who just want to integrate with the Canadian liberal elite of this country. We are going to resist that. We’re going to take our struggle back and we gonna say Palestine is going to be free when we continue to fight for Palestinian rights in Canada. So join me in saying boycott, divestment, sanctions, we are here to stay and we are going to fight for it. Free free Palestine.