Robinson comments reflect deeply racist view of Palestinian land, people, and heritage: ARPCF

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Montreal, January 30, 2024 — The Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) expresses profound concern over remarks made by Selina Robinson regarding Palestine, which were made public on January 30, 2024. Speaking at an event organized by the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith, Robinson described historic Palestine as a "crappy piece of land" with little economic value prior to the 1948 creation of the state of Israel. These comments first reflect a misunderstanding of the geography, climate, and rights and history of the indigenous Palestinian people.  Robinson’s comments also perpetuate a narrative of racial superiority that justifies the ongoing denial of the rights of Palestinians to self-determination.

Robinson’s comment underscores a broader pattern of anti-Palestinian racism within Canada, which not only disregards the historical and ongoing struggles of Palestinian people but also overlooks the reality of Israel's foundation as a settler colony built at the expense of Palestinians. “These narratives contribute to the dehumanization of Palestinians, denying their indigeneity and the injustices they've faced, including land confiscation and displacement by Israeli settlers,” says Jamila Ewais, Researcher for the ARPCF. The ARPCF points out that, ironically, some of Israel’s earliest settlers were Holocaust survivors who, in some cases, took the former homes of Palestinians, and in other cases, established their homes on the ruins of Palestinian villages.  This ideology, deeply rooted in racial superiority, not only applies to Palestine but is also reflective of attitudes in other settler colonial contexts where indigenous lands and resources are taken under the guise of civilizational advancement. “Robinson's remarks clearly aim to trivialize Palestinian culture and their way of life implicitly denying their right to self-determine their development path outside of conventional economic frameworks,” continued Ewais.

Despite Robinson's resignation from the NDP and her pledge to undergo anti-Islamophobia training following backlash against her remarks, her response suggests a continued disregard for the perspectives of Palestinians. “It's critical to understand that, at their core, the issues surrounding Palestine are not rooted in Islamophobia; rather, they stem from the dynamics of Israeli settler colonialism, where Palestinians are marginalized and denied their rights to self-determination and resistance,” said Ewais.

In light of Robinson’s comments, the ARPCF urges Robinson to get training in anti-Palestinian racism and decolonization. Such education is crucial not only for understanding the specifics of the Palestinian struggle but also for addressing the wider issues of racism and settler colonialism that affect various indigenous populations globally. The ARPCF encourages other elected representatives to also consider training on anti-Palestinian racism so that they understand the Palestinian issue and its roots in settler colonialism and apartheid. Ultimately, the Robinson incident serves as a reminder of the need for a more inclusive and informed Canadian conversation aiming to end discrimination and misunderstanding.

About the ARPCF – The mandate of the Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) is to create public awareness about racism in Canada.  This mandate falls in line with the Foundation’s broader purpose of monitoring and combating manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination by increasing public awareness of such biases.

For more information, please contact Jamila Ewais, 514-389-8668
ARPCF, [email protected]

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  • Lynn Naji
    published this page in Statements 2024-03-20 15:41:08 -0400