On December 11, 2002 Hanna Kawas sent the following letter to then Canada’s prime minister Jean Chrétien:
Dear Prime Minister:
The Canadian government’s announcement to ban the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the Lebanese group Hizbollah, as “terrorist groups” is ill advised, biased and outrageous.
The two Palestinian groups were formed 20 years after the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967. The Hizbollah group was formed after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the subsequent occupation of large areas of Lebanese territory. Both occupations were against international law, UN Security Council resolutions and the UN Charter.
It is worth noting that all the military actions of the three above-mentioned groups were carried out against their enemies on the soil of Palestine/Israel in the case of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and in Lebanon and in cross-border clashes with Israel in the case of Hizbollah. It is well documented that Israeli Government-sponsored terrorism has reached to the four corners of the world.
We ask why the Canadian government tries to protect Israel at every turn and at every diplomatic and political level, while the Palestinian people who really need international protection are shunned by the Canadian government? Canada’s vote at the UN Security Council on Dec. 18, 2000 was just one example.
We ask why pro-Israeli groups can raise Canadian tax-deductible funds for illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land -including for the purchase of military equipment- while Arab-Canadian groups CANNOT raise money for social welfare projects?
We ask why the Israeli continued occupation, home demolitions, land theft, destruction of farmland, human rights abuses, war crimes, and death squads, are all rewarded by the Canadian government and are not considered TERRORISM? Do terrorizing Arabs and Moslems not count for the Canadian government?
The pro-Israeli organizations are not only raising money but also publicly recruiting Canadians to go participate in the war crimes against the Palestinian people. Isn’t this recruiting terrorism, not to mention against standing Canadian law?
The decision to ban Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah is a clear message to the Arab and Moslem world as to where the Canadian government stands vis-a-vis the Arab Israeli conflict. This is against the strategic interest of the Canadian people and it only serves the narrow agenda of certain lobby groups.
Furthermore, your decision will only serve to heighten support for these organizations in their home countries, precisely because of this hypocritical one-sidedness.
It is clear to the Arab and Moslem people that the West led by the US is trying to control their natural resources, especially the oil, by imposing on them the most despotic, corrupt and oppressive regimes humankind ever witnessed. The West is stupidly making enemies in the whole World not only in the Arab World. This policy is going to backfire. The West should not ask innocently: Why do people hate us?
Dear Prime Minister, it is about time that the Canadian government reflects the true interests and wishes of the Canadian people. We had hopes that since you are not running again for reelection that you would not succumb to pressure from any interest group; we were hoping that you would stand on the side of human rights, international law and justice. To be honest with you, you are disappointing the Arab, Moslem and all peace loving Canadians.
You do not want this to be remembered as your legacy.
Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver