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Palestine will never die.

Written by Marium Khan

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Posted on June 26 2021

Palestinian Canadians On Keeping Their Heritage Alive and What You Can Do To Help

Palestine will never die. 

You may have heard or come across this phrase on social media, I myself have heard it at countless protests throughout the years. Palestine has been constantly attacked for over half a century, its land being physically ripped away from its rightful owners.. But what does this mean to Palestinian Canadians, who can only watch atrocities happening to their homes, family and loved ones from oceans away?

For a lot of immigrants and first generation children, moving to Canada can feel like the bond we share with our original home becomes a distant memory. Something I have always admired about Palestinians is their strong connection to their identity and their need to ensure everyone else knows it. For 20-year-old university student Rasha Qutub, a Palestinian Canadian, while she wasn’t born in Palestine, from a young age it was ingrained in her by her family to never ever forget her roots. And like many others in Canada, can only watch as Palestine is getting taken over.  “In any room you enter, anything you do, anywhere you go, you have to remember this”. Her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,and does not remember much, can vividly recall the Nakba in 1948. She relates her story of fleeing in heart-wrenching details, down to how she even lost her shoe while running away. This is the type of trauma passed down through generations and identical stories are shared by many Palestinians. Palestinians everywhere, like Rasha, even if not directly in the middle of conflict, still feel the pain as if losing their own and that, sadly, is how Palestinians everywhere feel so familiar with each other. It is also what keeps them connected no matter where they are. 

Community strength is a beautiful thing, and it is also one of the things that allows us as individuals to remain resilient. I asked Rasha what her motivation to stay strong was amidst all this,

“You have to.”

In a society where there are countless false narratives and vicious attempts in pursuit of the erasure of Palestine in its entirety, Rasha states that Palestinians remain dedicated and immensely connected to their heritage in order to pass on the truth to future generations. “If it’s not us that are passing it on to our kids, it’s gonna get lost”.

Things like clothing and food are the first things that come to mind when we think of culture but Rasha thinks of something else. 

“The culture is the struggle”. She holds onto her identity with strength as the world attempts to diminish her efforts. 

“My identity is not a choice.  My identity is more like a duty of mine. I can’t water my identity down. I need to stay strong about it even though in a lot of spaces that’s not welcome.”

(Picture of Rasha Qutub)

I wondered what I could do to contribute to Palestinians like Rasha maintaining their identity and their comfort in spaces such as schools, workplaces etc. So it’s time to share these tips with all non-Palestinian Canadians! 

#1 . Stop comparing it to the Holocaust. 

It is not the Holocaust. As Rasha says, this is not the oppression olympics. Every issue is horrible on its own and should not be compared. This brings me to my next point.

#2.  Remember that it is not an issue of religion. It is not Muslims vs Jews. There are people of various religions residing in Palestine, and to say it is only Muslims being affected ignores other minorities who share the same struggles. It is also not Jewish people oppressing Palestinians, it is Israel. Do not spread anti-Jewish rhetoric. 

#3.  Stay informed to defend Palestinians whenever you can. Make sure false information is not circulating. Right now false information in the media is one of the most effective tactics being used to oppress Palestinians so correcting information right away and not allowing it to circulate further will derail this tactic.

 

Protesters pray at a Palestine Protest in Mississauga

(Maghrib prayer at a protest for Palestine in Mississauga, ON)

#4. Call out anti-Palestine acts whenever possible in order to apply pressure. Rasha noted one thing Canadians need to remember about Canada, “Canada will never, ever, ever support Palestine, until Indigenous people here are supported. To acknowledge the exact same thing that’s essentially happening over there, you have to acknowledge what's happening here”. This is why we need to call out anti-Palestine acts whenever possible in order to apply pressure. This includes corporations, universities, and policies that are tied with Israel. Refer to the BDS movement website to boycott companies. There are also various official petitions on the petitions.ourcommons.ca website related to Palestine (such as e-2565). Go onto their website and sign these petitions in order to stress its importance to the government. 

Being Palestinian in any space is certainly not easy, and this is exactly why we need to unite to protect our brothers and sisters in any possible way we can.