Canada Park

Canada Park, a 7,500 acre recreation area covered with pine forest – a few kilometres north-west of Jerusalem has spectacular panaromas, woodland paths, mountain-bike trails, caves and idyllic picnic areas. This park was built at the cost of US$15 million by the Zionist organization, the Jewish National Fund (Canada), an Israeli government arm for confiscating Natives’ land for the Jewish settlers. Most of the Canadian Jews, Christians and others, who donated for the construction of this park – did not know the history of the land on which this park was built – the history of three Palestinian villages of Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba – whose two mosques, one church, a graveyard and one school were destroyed by the invading Jewish soldiers who occupied this part of West Bank in 1967. The 10,000 descendants of Palestinian inhabitants of those three villages – expelled by the Israel Occupation Force (IOF) – mostly live in refugee camps in East Jerusalem and near Ramallah.

On August 7, 2007 – Israel daily Ha’aretz in an article by Zafrir Rinat Out of sight maybe, but not out of mind – reminded the world how the Palestinian victims of Zionist regime are being robbed and their existence being taken out of history pages.

“Up until a year and a half ago, the vast majority of visitors to Canada Park, one of the most popular hiking and picnic sites on the way to Jerusalem, had no idea that the park was built on the ruins of three Palestinian villages whose inhabitants were forced to leave in the wake of the Six-Day War. It was only after the Keren Kayemet LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund agreed to the demands of the Zochrot (Remembering), a non-governmental organization and posted signs in the park about two villages, Yalu and Emmaus, that their existence first became known to hikers. But since their posting, someone has already made sure to tear down one of the signs and vandalize the other.

As far as Zochrot is concerned, marking the location of Palestinian communities that were destroyed in 1948 is part of the effort to make Israel recognize its responsibility for the Nakba (“The Catastrophe”; the Palestinians’ term for the 1948 war), and for the right of the refugees to return to their villages. This goal is unacceptable to most Israelis. But providing information about these villages also contributes to knowledge of the country’s history and culture, and to greater awareness of the factors that have shaped the Israeli landscape. This has taken on added importance mainly in light of recent efforts by planners and environmental protection groups to preserve “cultural landscapes” – in other words, areas whose landscape was shaped by human activity.

Historians who are very critical of the Zionist movement, such as Dr. Ilan Pappe (an Israeli Jewish professor at British University of Dexter)), claim that disregarding the existence of Palestinian villages is part of a deliberate effort to erase their history in favor of creating a new one that suits the Zionist narrative of a country that was barren, and only flourished thanks to groups like the JNF. In a study he published, Pappe analyzes the information that JNF provides on several sites, including the Biria Forest, the Jerusalem Forest, the area of Ramat Menashe and the Sataf site near Jerusalem. “The Palestinian orchards are presented as a product of nature, and the history of Palestine is relocated to the period of the Bible and the Talmud,” he writes in his discussion of the site of the village of Ein Zeitun in the Biria Forest……”

Jesse Rosenfeld also wrote an article in NOW Magazine (Toronto), December 20-27, 2007 –  Grass stain\’s on Canada\’s hands – asking “Why the Federal government is subsidizing the refurbishment of a park built on razed Palestinian towns?”


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