On June 4, 2023, the Prince George Citizen published a letter to the editor from CJPME rebutting the false claims and reductive history in a letter from Robert Walker of the pro-Israel group Honest Reporting Canada, which had mislead readers about Palestine before the Nakba. Here is an excerpt from the letter:
The target of Walker’s attack – Chidiac – made the uncontroversial point that “before European colonization,” modern-day Palestine and its surrounding territories under the Ottoman Empire were generally defined by the peaceful coexistence of many religions including Christians, Muslims, and Jews. This is especially true in comparison to other empires in the world at that time, especially those in Europe. It’s by no means a fringe point and represents a mainstream conclusion among historians today.
Walker attempts to dismiss these historical facts in an effort to justify Israel’s brutal occupation. He points only to tragic events that occurred after European colonization in the lead up to the Nakba (Arabic for ‘catastrophe,’ the term refers to the violent expulsion and forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land in 1948). Though it goes beyond my basic point, it should be noted that the events Walker references took place when violent Zionist paramilitary groups committed various atrocities. Such manipulative and revisionist arguments have no place in our public discourse.