Halifax Forum commemorates Day of the Land

HALIFAX (15 April 2004) -- In commemoration of Palestinian Land Day, a vibrant cultural and political evening was held in Halifax on April 1 by the Halifax Political Forums. The Halifax initiative was part of a worldwide manifestation of solidarity with Palestine.

In his introduction to the formal part of the evening, Tony Seed, on behalf of the steering committee, underlined that the Israeli invasion of Jenin and other Palestinian cities in 2002, the massacre in Jenin, the memorable solidarity march in Halifax and other cities, and the cowardly silence of the Canadian government and media was the immediate inspiration for the publishing of the Dossier on Palestine by shunpiking magazine. On 30 March 2002, "Everybody hear us say: Palestine is here to stay!" was the most popular slogan at the Land Day demonstration in Halifax (see photo above). And, in the ensuing two years there has emerged a living program on Palestine involving people of all walks of life and embodying a united front of the polity. The inherent justness of the Palestinian stand means that such an initiative occupies the mainstream of the society, representing the conscience of Canadians, Mr. Seed said.

The Halifax Political Forums provide an important space for citizens to receive enlightened information on topics otherwise suppressed or marginalized by the monopoly media and engage in serious discussion on national and international issues. They represent a civic venue for developing a united front of the polity. The forums are held on the principle of self-reliance, without waiting for experts from foreign galaxies to alight in Halifax. They are not defined by an ideological preconception nor restricted by an ideological requirement.

The problem of Palestine, although it directly affects the Palestinians, is not the concern of Palestinians alone, Mr. Seed said. He reminded everyone that the question of land as a democratic and sovereign right of the people was a serious issue facing people everywhere, as shown in Palestine, Scotland, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Latin America and Quebec, Aboriginal Territories and Canada itself, where monopoly right today is vested in the Crown and multinational corporations.

"The lands being the material basis of life, alike of conquerors and conquered," he pointed out, "whoever holds those lands is master of the lives and liberties of the nation."

Nabil Hdeib, a Palestinian-Canadian student, chaired the evening and introduced the historical significance of Land Day (see report under World). His presentation was followed by the 1997 PBS documentary, The People and The Land, centring on the First Intifada (Uprising) of 1987-1993, and an informative discussion.

MR. Hdeib opened the discussion period by warmly encouraging everyone to participate, based on the democratic norm that each intervenor could speak once, until all had exercised the same right. Dr Ismail Zayid, of the Canada Palestine Association, and other participants made important and informative interventions on the modus operandi of the dispossession of indigenous peoples, be they Palestinian, First Nations or the Gaels of Scotland, and those who excuse such ethnic cleansing. These interventions also gave rise to a number of proposals for future forums, speakers and films.

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Sponsoring organisations for the regular Winter 2004 series "Focus on Palestine" include: Dalhousie Students for Peace and Justice, CKDU Radio, Canada-Palestine Association, Shunpiking Magazine, dominionpaper.ca, and People's Front (Halifax)


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