On May 13, The Kingston Whig published an article covering a ‘Nakba Day’ vigil that was being planned at Springer Market Square in Kingston, Ontario. The headline of the news brief read: “Vigil marks 75th anniversary of Palestinian expulsion” and it reported the following false information:
“A vigil in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the May 15, 1948, forced expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes will be held Monday at Springer Market Square from 7 to 8 p.m. The “Nakba (Catastrophe) Day” vigil is being sponsored by the Palestinian Support Group (Kingston), an offshoot of Independent Jewish Voices in Ottawa. According to the support group, Palestinians are now living in largely very poor conditions in Israel, or under the Occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, or in the diaspora outside their homeland.”
Firstly, the headline referred to a Palestinian “expulsion,” whereas the neutral and accurate term would be to say “displacement,” as noted by the CBC, for example.
The reason this is the case is because in the war that occurred in 1948, the accepted narrative is that Palestinian-Arabs either fled or were forced and the preferable term is displaced due to the issue being in fundamental dispute. At the time, five combined Arab armies rejected the UN Partition Plan to create separate Jewish and Arab states and waged a war of annihilation against the nascent Jewish state. In that war, Arab leaders encouraged (as noted by the Economist at the time) their Arab brethren to vacate the area so that they wouldn’t get up in the hostilities and become collateral damage, while others left at their own volition.
Furthermore, the term nakba, or catastrophe, leaves no doubt that those who use this term see Israel’s creation – the rebirth of the Jewish State after two thousand years of subjugation – as illegitimate and as a terrible mistake, presumably one which can still be rectified. This is not a political opinion; it is a view which denies the Jewish People’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland.
Lastly, in 2005, Israel left Gaza and removed its 21 settlements, 8,500 settlers and combined armed forces in a unilateral effort to procure peace with the Palestinians. Israel does not “occupy” Gaza, it merely enforces a blockade with Egypt to thwart terrorism and weapons transfers.
After HRC filed a complaint with the Kingston Whig-Standard, the article was amended with this new headline: “Vigil marks 75th anniversary of Palestinian displacement” and a revised paragraph that now states the following:
“A vigil in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the May 15, 1948, displacement of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes will be held Monday at Springer Market Square from 7 to 8 p.m. The “Nakba Day” vigil is being sponsored by the Palestinian Support Group (Kingston), an offshoot of Independent Jewish Voices in Ottawa.”
We thank The Kingston Whig-Standard for its cooperation and for taking immediate corrective action.