A profound debt
Yasser Arafat - Abu Ammar
4 August 1929 - 11 November 2004
"War flares up in Palestine and yet it is still in Palestine that peace will be born."
President Yasser Arafat
Address to the UN General Assembly
13 November 1974
We are very sad to learn that President Yasser Arafat, eternal symbol of Palestine, of its land, its people, its past, its future, has passed away.
On this occasion of great loss for the valiant Palestinian people and people throughout the world, we express our deepest condolences to the Palestinian leadership, the entire Palestinian people, our media, cultural and intellectual colleagues, President Arafat's comrades of every generation and to his family and friends on their tragic loss.
It has been our conviction that humanity owes a profound debt to the heroic struggle of national liberation waged by the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people watered their soil with the blood of tens of thousands of martyrs. The fate and destiny of all our peoples is intertwined. The loss of their son and esteemed leader, Yasser Arafat, touches all of us.
His revolutionary life and indefatigible work in the vanguard of the Palestinian freedom fighters, driven from their homeland, are a courageous stand for human dignity, the affirmation of the Palestinian national identity, conscience and soul, and the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination. This self-sacrificing struggle for a democratic and secular state benefited the aspirations of oppressed nations and their millions of peoples, illuminating the path to freedom and peace for the peoples of the entire world. This is neither terror nor extremism. Those who steadfastly fight for their just national and social rights are the main factor for a just peace, security and progress in the troubled Middle East and the world. President Arafat rightly called his notable goal the "peace of the brave". The facts speak for themselves. President Arafat and the Palestinian resistance concretely frustrated the imperial designs to invade and remake the Middle East, the cradle of civilization, in their mediaeval and Eurocentric image -- be under the "no war, no peace" condominium of the United States of America and the Soviet Union, the shibboleth of George H. Bush's "New Arab Order", the Oslo/Camp David "peace process" of William Jefferson Clinton, or the hideous terror of George W. Bush's "war on terror". The moral-political-diplomatic and military stands of the Palestinian leadership narrowed the field of operation of the superpowers, unmasking their perfidy, and eroding the dense fog of "democracy", "peace" and fictitious "generous offers" by way of this or that summit. The whole world knows that it was Washington and Tel Aviv, not President Arafat and the Palestinian National Authority, who cast the olive branch into the dust and torpedoed the two state solution. The mounting Palestinian resistance concretely helped the world's people to see the reality, the very great and grave danger from the enslaving aims and insoluble chaos of the imperial states and their policy with which we are being threatened. Despite heavy blows, in the face of the attempts to pit one against another, President Arafat averted the fratricidal plots and traps, kept the unity of the Palestinian people, and helped ensure their future.
As Canadians, to discover and explore the living reality of the Palestine environment, the rich and storied culture, the fine traditions, and the unquenchable 180-year struggle of this nation for independence is a voyage in humility. It has been the great honour of our publication to make a modest contribution to creating enlightened and informed public opinion amongst the people of Canada and of other lands of the cause of Historic Palestine and the forces in motion. The conscience and sympathy of Canadians is today actively expressed for Palestine from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans within our nation, and by the Canadian solidarity youth midst the ancient olive groves and the Palestine street. This is a matter of great pride for both the Palestinian and Arabic peoples and part of the historic legacy of President Arafat and his fedayeen. We deeply thank you.
It is the eternal shame of the Government of Canada that, through its membership in the UN Standing Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), it actively organized the violent dispossession and obliteration of the Palestinian people in 1948 in violation of the Charter of the United Nations which consecrates the inalienable right to self-determination. Further, from the floor of the UN General Assembly, under the veneer of high ideals, these little Canadian Balfours cynically manipulated the Holocaust and justified the genocidal and enslaving al nabka (catastrophe) in the face of the majority public opinion of Canadians which welled up for Palestine during those dark days. The Government of Canada has banned PLO representatives from visiting our country and arbitrarily deports the Palestinian refugee and his family one after the other. The Government of Canada, in the name of the high ideal of "the right to self-defence", gives the US and Israel a free rein to construct the Apartheid Wall and commit other heinous crimes against humanity, in violation of the letter and spirit of international law. The Government of Canada has betrayed Canadian conscience, abandoned Palestine, and dishonoured our nation.
We are mindful that the Palestinians are still exposed to aggression and occupation and remain subjected to new and dangerous conspiracies to prevent them from attaining their freedom and realizing their just goals. Even before President Arafat tragically passed away, the bugles began to blow loudly. The monstrous machinery of disinformation is being unleashed by Sharon and his patrons through the radio, TV, newspapers and Internet. They are like camels in the desert, feeding on what they have digested long ago. Their aim is to shamelessly malign the victims for their condition, to demonize the memory of President Arafat and the immortal cause he upholds to justify renewing Israeli state terrorism, and to sow the seeds of doubt about the future of the Palestinian resistance and the unity of their purpose. This will not pass. Neither the profound conscience of Canadians nor the voice of this nor our sister publications will be silent: we will voice our opinions openly and continue to provide information, clarity and knowledge. The Palestinian child borne in exile or as captives in their own land, the Palestinian tree, will not be exterminated. Such a living tree, with such majestic roots, will surely blossom.
Today the Palestinian people laid President Arafat to rest in the Muqata'a in Ramallah, entombed in earth from the Al-Haram Al-Shareef compound in Jerusalem. He will rest there until the time he can be moved to the Palestinian capital.
May your courage and unforgettable life inspire and enlighten the future.
The editors and staff of Dossier on Palestine,
Halifax, Nova Scotia
12 November 2004
*We are returning.
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