Apartheid Israel and the Jewish National Fund of Canada: The Story of 'Imwas Yalu, Beit Nuba and Canada Park
24 September 2004
Copyright © Uri Davis
This my address above I delivered, inter alia, on the date above in Ottawa, at the
Azrieli Building, Room 101, Carleton University - the 24th Day of September in the
Year 2004 being the holiest day in the Jewish confessional calendar, Yom Kippur, the
Day of Atonement, the night when the prayer of Kol Nidrei is recited.
And I chose to do so advisedly.
I believe that when the sponsors of my lecture tour in North America, 13-29
September 2004, coordinated the various schedules of my itinerary they were not
aware that the above falls on Yom Kippur. When, having perused my itinerary I
realized that this was the case - I chose to leave the date of the said engagement
unaltered. I made this choice because the alternatives that were on offer were not
I am a something of an old fashioned liberal, and subscribe strongly to the principle of
separation of religious identity from the state. I owe to my colleague and teacher
Akiva Orr the extension of this liberal principle to include separation of national
identity from the state as well as separation of tribal identity from the state (Orr,
1994). I am able to confidently and unapologetically celebrate such elements in my
religious, national and tribal heritage as are compatible with the values of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, precisely because I do not wed my religious
affiliations, national affiliations or tribal affiliations to the state.
And such elements in my religious, national and tribal heritage as are not compatible
with the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights I reject and denounce.
I am not a theological Jew, and I do not subscribe to the claim that the Old Testament
(or, for that matter, the New Testament or the Quran) are divine narratives, the words
of God. Neither do I wish to be affiliated to the political Zionist construction of the
"Jewish people". I identify myself and project my identity as Jewish in terms of
membership of the Jewish tribe, or more precisely, in tems of membership of one of
the European Jewish tribes. And, as noted above, I rejoice in celebrating such sections
of my tribal heritage as are compatible with the values of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and reject and denounce such as are not.
I mark my male offsprings with the mark of my tribe: circumcision.
Thus, I place myself squarely in the camp that classifies religious, national or tribal
pursuits as pursuits that belong and ought to remain firmly in the private sphere, as
well as insists that just as it is none of the business of the state to intervene in matters
pertaining to the sexual preferences to two consenting adults between the sheets,
subject to the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is none of the
business of the state to intervene in the exercise of religious, national or tribal
preferences of its citizens, again, subject to the values of the Universal Declaration of
To my mind, the wedding religion (or nationalism or tribalism) to the state is
repugnant. As the late Yeshaayahu Leibowitz, tirelessly pointed out "[t]here is no
greater degradation of religion than maintenance of its institutions by a secular state"
(Leibowitz 1992: 176), and "what obtains officially today as the religion of Israel
and what appears in the world as the official Jewish religion - is a concubine which is
maintained by the secular regime [of the State of Israel]." Never known to mince his
words, Leibowitz contnues: "and what is referred to as the 'religious establishment' -
and I do not hesitate to say so in public - is the pimp of this concubine!" (Leibowitz,
1987:35). To the best of my knowledge there was not a single Jewish synagogue, the
locus of congregation of my tribe in Ottawa on the said day, that did not include in its
Day of Atonement service the impropriety of a including in the most individually
intimate prayer of Yizkor (Memorial of Departed Souls, recited in remembrance of
one's departed father, mother, grandparents, uncles/aunts, brothers/sisters, children,
spouses, extended family and martyrs) also a prayer for members of the Israel Defence Force:
May God remember the souls of the soldiers of the Israel Defence Force who
gave their lives for the sanctification of God's name, the nation and the land;
who fell heroic death in missions of liberation, defence and security.
Sanctification of God's name through ethnic cleansing?
Given this appalling circumstance, I felt that delivering a critical lecture in Ottawa on
the subject of the Jewish National Fund, specifically, the Jewish National Fund of
Canada, in defence of the rights of the Palestinian Arab inhabitants of 'Imwas, Yalu
and Beit Nuba, ethnically cleansed by the Israeli army in the course of the 1967 war,
criminally leveling their homes and razing their villages to the ground, over the ruins
of which, inter alia, JNF Canada funded the planting of the trees and the developing
of the recreational facilities that were inaugusrated as "Canada Park", was the
ethically a viable and correct choice, perhaps the only viable choice available to me as
a person attempting to remain a decent Jew in the context of my lecture tour in
Canada, especially on that date, the Jewish Day of Atonement, 2004.
Introduction and Acknowledgments
It so happens that the Palestinian Arab village of 'Imwas is regarded in professional
archeological and church literature as one of the likely location of the New Testament
Emmaus, on the road towards which Jesus Christ is reported to have walked after his
Luke tells the story of that first Easter afternoon when the risen Christ appeared to the
two disciples who were walking together along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
The risen Christ "came near and went with them," opening the disciples' eyes to his
presence and lighting the fire of God's love in their hearts. As they walked to
Emmaus, Jesus explained to them the meaning of all the scriptures concerning
himself. When they arrived in Emmaus, Jesus "took bread, blessed and broke it, and
gave it to them," and their eyes were opened. They recognized him as Jesus, the risen
Lord, and they remembered how their hearts had burned within them as they talked
with him on the road. Within the hour, the two disciples left Emmaus and returned
immediately to their friends in Jerusalem. As they told stories about their encounters
with the risen Lord, Jesus visited them again with a fresh awareness of his living
presence. (Based on http://www.upperroom.com/emmaus/whatis/name.asp )
There is no scholarly consensus regarding the location in Palestine of the New
Testament Emmaus. In addition to the location as accepted in this Paper, other sites
have been recommended as ancient Emmaus. First, al-Qubayba (Palestinian Arab
village destroyed and ethnically cleansed by the Israeli army in the course of and in
the wake of the 1948-49 war, and on whose lands, inter alia, the cooperative Moshav
Ge'alyah (for Jews only) was established). This was a site favored by the Crusaders,
who found an old Roman fort near el-Qubeibeh named Castellum Emmaus. A
Byzantine church was excavated here by the Franciscans beginning in 1873; second,
Abu Ghosh, (most of whose lands were confiscated to establish, inter alia, the
cooperative Kibbutz Qiryat Anavim (for Jews only)), identified as Old Testament
Qiryat Ye'arim, also known as Qaryat al-'Anab (City of Grape[s]). There is a Roman
fort at Abu Ghosh with a Greek inscription that mentions the Tenth Legion stationed
there; third, Qaluniya, or ancient Colonia, often identified with the Motza of the
Jerusalem Talmud (Palestinian Arab village of Qaluniya too was destroyed and
ethnically cleansed by the Israeli army in the course of and in the wake of the 1948-49
war, and on whose lands, inter alia, Mevaseret Zion, the leafy suburb of Jerusalem
(for Jews only) was established). The photograph below depicts the mixed Catholic
Communaute des Beatitudes at Emmaus/Nicopolis and a section of the archeological
excavations of the ancient Roman, Byzantine and Crusader remains. Today, these
sacred ruins are the only evidence of the existence of the city in this site.
(Based on http://www.christusrex.org/www1/ofm/mad/discussion/069discuss.html
and Walid Khalidi, 1992: 220-21, 309-10)
Photograph courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association
In the course of the 1967 war the Israeli army occupied 'Imwas and the neighbouring
villages of Yalu and Beit Nuba and forcibly expelled, ethnically cleansed, their
civilian unarmed inhabitants, men women and children, the life of most of whom has
since then been reduced to the misery of refugee statelessness.
Over the ruins of the three villages of 'Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba and their lands the
Jewish National Fund of Canada funded the planting of trees and the development of
recreational facilities inaugurated during the term of office of the late Bernard
Bloomfield as President of the Jewish National Fund of Canada, 1971-1975 as
It is not that I was not aware of the history of Canada Park, situated as it is inside the
post-1967 occupied territories of the West Bank, in the Latrun Salient, a sliver of
land, in the shape of a thumb, hugging the road to Jerusalem, prior to the publication
of Walter Lehn's article in "A West Bank Sojourn" in 1980. I was a student at the
Hebrew University in Jerusalem at the time of the 1967 war, and have since led
numerous individuals and groups on critical visits to Canada Park as an illustration of
the illegal settler-colonial complicity of the JNF in war crimes and crimes against
humanity in general, and in the post 1967 occupied territories in particular. In due
course I had published, as associated author together with Walter Lehn, author, the
only comprehensive independent critical history of the JNF available in the English
Language, The Jewish National Fund in 1988.
But it was, alas, only much later, after visiting the JNF pavilion in the UN World
Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in 2002, which I had attended as a
member of the delegation of ITTIJAH: Union of Arab Community Based
Associations, that I became concretely, tangibly and fully aware of the critical role of
the JNF overseas in the regrettably hitherto successful endeavour by the World
Zionist Organization (WZO) and the Embassies of the State of Israel worldwide in
projecting the State of Israel, an apartheid state, as "the only democracy in the Middle
Registered as an NGO (which it is not), the JNF at the said UN World Conference on
Sustainable Development, projected itself as a non-governmental organization
committed to sustainable development (e.g., river section rehabilitation, soil
conservation, fire fighting vehicles, fire watchtowers, savanization projects and such
like), and on the ground of such misrepresentation claiming and getting registered as a
charity benefitting from tax exemptions in all or most member states of the United
I owe the people of 'Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba an apology for the delay in the
publication of this study, and for the delay in initiating the related action of litigation
against the JNF and its officers in Canada on the basis of the evidence of JNF
complicity in crimes against humanity. This study and its related litigation ought to
have been motivated some three and a half decades ago. That this was not to be may
be explained, and possibly justified, by circumstance. But alleviating circumstances
notwithstanding, it still remains the case that every delay in this regard entails yet an
additional extension of the crippling suffering of the people of 'Imwas, Yalu and Beit
And I owe the peoples of South Africa, led by the African National Congress (ANC)
and inspired by the admirable leadership of Nelson Mandela, my profoundest
gratitude for their contribution to humanity as a whole, through their achievements
and successful struggle over many decades, resulting in the dismantlement of the
apartheid legislation in the Republic of South Africa and its replacement with a
democratic constitution. There is little doubt in my mind that the success of the
struggle in South Africa for a constitutional democracy informed by the values of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights has played a critically significant role in the
creation of an international environment that is progressively more attentive to the
rights and wrongs of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the justice of the struggle
against Israeli apartheid in solidarity with the struggle of the indigenous Palestinian
Arab people for their fundamental rights, as enshrined in international law and all UN
resolutions on the question of Palestine, notably, their right to return and to the titles
to their properties inside the State of Israel.
This study, and the related legal action to be motivated in its wake in the course of my
lecture tour in North America 13-29 September 2004, would not have been made
possible without the generous and extensive support of the many civil society
networks in Palestine and North America, in the first instance the relentless struggle
of the refugees of 'Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba in defence of their right to return and
to the titles to their properties; the Emmaus Charitable Association, notably Nihad and
Adnan Abu Ghosh; AL-BEIT: Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Israel,
notably Advocate Tawfiq Jabarin; PASSIA: Palestinian Academic Society for the
Study of International Affairs, notably Mahmoud Abu Rumeileh; ADDAMEER:
Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, notably Khalida Jarrar;
SOLIDARITY, notably David Finkel and Peter Solenberger; Interfaith Council for
Peace and Justice of Ann Arbor, notably Harry Clark; Students Allied for Freedom
and Equality, notably Carmel Salhi; Palestine Office, notably Hasan Newash; ADC:
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, notably Nabeel Ibraham; St
Andrew's Episcopal Church of Clawson, notably Harry Cook; WPC: Windsor Peace
Coalition, notably Margret Villamizar; OPIRG: Ontario Public Interest Research
Group, notably Jim Davies; London Canadian Palestinian Association, notably Robert
Rabah; SPHR: Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, University of West Ontario
notably Rasha Tawil; Palestine House, notably Elias Hazineh; NECEF: Near East
Cultural and Educational Foundation of Canada, notably Jim Graff; JWAO: Jewish
Women Against the Occupation, notably Judith Weisman; SPHR: Solidarity for
Palestinian Human Rights, York University, notably Dennis Badeen; Kingston for
Palestinian Human Rights, notably Akrum Matuk; NCCAR: National Council on
Canada-Arab Relations, notably Mazen Chouaib; CPA: Canada Palestine Association,
notably Ismail Zayid; PAJU: Palestinian Arab and Jewish Unity, notably Janette
Weinroth; ALTERNATIVES: Communication and Action for International
Development Network, notably France-Isabelle Langlois; SPHR: Solidarity for
Palestinian Human Rights, McGill University, notably Chadi Maaruf; JAAO: Jewish
Alliance Against the Occupation, notably Eibie Weizfeld; and research assistance by
But most emphatically I owe profound thanks to Advocate Edward Corrigan and
Annik Lussier for devoting their time over the eight months preceding my said tour to
coordinating my tour in North America under the title above; David Finkel and Amy
Good, Rabia and Farouq Shafie, Hasan Newash, Karin and Michael Brothers, Nahla
Abdo and Sami Zu'bi; Faraj and Carol Nakhleh; and Ahmad Eed Murad for their
hospitality; Michael Friedman for assistance with the preparation of my PowerPoint
presentation; and Walter Lehn and his wife Ghada Jayyusi Lehn for their critical
support in assisting me assemble relevant documentation in the course of my travel
along the route of my tour.
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs were taken by this writer.
Eyewitness Report by Reserve IDF Soldier Amos Kenan
Written in June 1967, and incorporated in Amos Kenan, Israel: A Wasted Victory,
1970, the eyewitness report of the razing of the three Palestinian Arab villages of
'Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba, are narrated by Amos Kenan as follows (photographs
added by Uri Davis, courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association):
The commander of my platoon said that it had been decided to blow up the
three villages in the sector- Yalu, Beit Nuba, and 'Imwas. For reasons of
strategy, tactics and security. In the first place to straighten out the Latrun
'finger'. Secondly, in order to punish these murderers' dens. And thirdly, to
deprive infiltrators of a base in future.
One may argue with this idiotic approach which advocates collective
punishment and is based on the belief that if the infiltrator loses one house, he
will not find another from which to wait in ambush. One may argue with the
effectiveness of increasing the number of our future enemies - but why argue?
We were told it was our job to search the village houses: that if we found any
armed men there, they were to be taken prisoner. Any unarmed persons should
be given time to pack their belongings and then told to get moving - get
moving to Beit Sira, a village not far away. We were told also to take up
positions around the approaches to the villages in order to prevent those
villagers who had heard the Israeli assurances over the radio that they could
return to their homes in peace - from returning to their homes. The order was -
shoot over their heads and tell them there is no access to the village.
The homes in Beit Nuba are beautiful stone houses, some of them luxurious
mansions. Each house stands in an orchard of olives, apricots and grapevines,
there are also cypresses and other trees grown for their beauty and the shade
they give. Each tree stands in its carefully watered bed. Between the trees lie
neatly hoed and weeded rows of vegetables.
In the houses we found a wounded Egyptian commando officer and some old
men and women. At noon the first bulldozer arrived, and ploughed under the
house closest to the village edge.
With one sweep of the bulldozer, the cypresses and the olive trees were
uprooted. Ten or more minutes pass and the house, with its meagre furnishings
and belongings, had become a mass of rubble. After three houses had been
mowed down, the first convoy of refugees arrives, from the direction of
Photograph courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association
Photograph courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association
Photograph courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association
We did not shoot into the air. We did take up positions for coverage, and those
of us who spoke Arabic went up to them to give them the orders. There were
old men hardly able to walk, old women mumbling to themselves, babies in
their mother's arms, small children, small children weeping, begging for water.
The convoy waved white flags.
Photograph courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association
We told them to move on to Beit Sira. They said that wherever they went, they
were driven away, that nowhere they were allowed to stay. They said they had
been on the way for four days now- without food or water; some had perished
on the way. They asked only to be allowed back into their own village, and
said that we would do better to kill them. Some had brought with them a goat,
a sheep, a camel or a donkey. A father crunched grains of wheat in his hand to
soften them so that his four children might have something to eat. On the
horizon, we spotted the next line approaching. One man was carrying a 50-
kilogram sack of flour on his back, and that was how he had walked mile after
mile. More old men, more women, more babies. They flopped down
exhausted at the spot where they were told to sit. Some had brought along a
cow or two, or a calf- all their earthly possessions. We did not allow them to
go into the village to pick up their belongings, for the order was that they must
not be allowed to see their homes being destroyed. The children wept, and
some of the soldiers wept too. We went to look for water but found none. We
stopped an army vehicle in which sat a Lieutenant-Colonel, two Captains and
a woman. We took a gerry-can of water from them and tried to make it go
round among the refugees. We handed out sweets and cigarettes. More of our
soldiers wept. We asked the officers why the refugees were being sent back
and forth and driven away from everywhere they went. The officers said it
would do them good to walk and asked "why worry about them, they're only
Arabs?" We were glad to learn that half-an-hour later they were all arrested by
the military police, who found their car stacked with loot.
More and more lines of refugees kept arriving. By this time there must have
been hundreds of them. They couldn't understand why they had been told to
return and now were not being allowed to return. One could not remain
unmoved by their entreaties. Someone asked what was the point of destroying
the houses - why didn't the Israelis go live in them instead? The platoon
commander decided to go to headquarters to find out whether there was any
written order as to what should be done with them, where to send them and to
try and arrange transportation for the women and children, and food supplies.
He came back an said there was no written order, we were to drive them away.
Like lost sheep they went on wandering along the roads. The exhausted were
beyond rescuing. Toward evening we learned that we had been told a
falsehood - Beit Sira too the bulldozers had begun their work of destruction,
and the refugees had not been allowed to enter. We also learned that it was not
in our sector alone that areas were being 'straightened out'; the same thing was
going on in all sectors. Our word had not been a word of honor, the policy was
a policy without backing.
The soldiers grumbled. The villagers clenched their teeth as they watched the
bulldozers mow down trees. At night we stayed on to guard the bulldozers, but
the entire battalion were seething with anger; most of them did not want to do
the job. In the morning we were transferred to another spot. No one could
understand how Jews could do such a thing. Even those who justified the
action said that it should have been possible to provide shelter for the
population, that a final decision should have been taken as to their fate, as to
where they were to go.
The refugees should have been taken to their new home, together with their
property. No one could understand why the fellah should be barred from
taking his oil-stove, his blanket and some provisions.
The chickens and the pigeons were buried under the rubble. The fields were
turned to desolation before our eyes, and the children who dragged themselves
along the road that day, weeping bitterly, will be the fedayeen of 19 years
hence. This is how that day, we lost the victory. (Amos Kenan, Israel: A
Wasted Victory, 1970, pp 18-21)
An odd quarter of a century later, in 1991, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
(CBC) Fifth Estate Programme, broadcasted Trish Wood's documentary film on
Canada Park, entitled "Park With No Pecae". For her documentary film Trish Wood
interviewed a number of Jewish citizens of Israel, including Amos Kenan, who stood
by his testimony above; former MK Uri Avnery, who properly referred to the
destruction of 'Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba as a war crime under international law, the
development of Canada Park over the ruins of the said three destroyed Palestinian
Arab villages as complicity with war crimes, and the endorsement of the naming of
the park after the name of the Canada as implicating Canada with giving a cover to
war crimes; and the late Prime Minister Yitzhaq Rabin who confirmed that it was he,
as Chief-of-Staff of the Israel Defence Forces, who gave the order to level the villages
and raze them to the ground (Wood, 1991). When challenged by Trish Wood to the
effect that this action was classified as war crimes under the Geneva Conventions of
1949, this is what Rabin had to say:
Allow me to remind you that at war there are certain rules of war [pause] and
whenever we are at war we will do whatever is needed to protect Israel, to
defend Israel, to defend Israel's population (Wood, 1991)
Except that the rules of war, as regulated under the said Geneva Conventions of 1949,
specifically and emphatically prohibit forcible expulsion of civilian populations from
the localities of residence, ethnic cleansing or razing the homes of civilian populations
to the ground. Such actions are classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity
under international law.
And when further challenged by Trish Wood to the effect that:
If there is ever to be Peace here many believe Israel will have to trade land for
it. The hatred each side holds for the other is as deeply rooted in Canada Park
as anywhere in the Middle East. For the Palestinians the land the Park sits on
represents their birth right. For the Israelis the security of their nation.
I don't see any Israeli leader that will give it upï¿½ Because we need it for
Israel's security. To maintain the line of the road between Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem secï¿½ Totally secure. As you wouldn'tï¿½ wouldn't allow that the
road between Toronto and Ottawa will be controlled by a potential enemy of
Needless to say that the comparison of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway to the
Toronto Ottawa highway is utterly misplaced, since Israel's claims to Jerusalem as the
Capital of the State of Israel are wholly illegal. Israeli actions and legislation with
reference to Jerusalem represent a blatant violation of a host of UN General Assembly
and Security Council resolutions, beginning with UN General Assembly Resolution
181(II) of November 1947 (recommending the establishment of independent Arab and
Jewish states and a corpus separatum for the City of Jerusalem under Special
International Regime to be administered by the UN) through UN Security Council
Resolution 242 of November 1967 (emphasizing the inadmissibility of acquisition of
territory by war), and UN Security Council Resolution 478 of August 1980 (affirming
that the enactment of the "Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel" by Israel in
1980 constitutes a violation of international law and a serious obstruction to achieving
a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East) as well as UN General
Assembly Resolution 58/22 of October 2003 (reiterating its determination that any
action taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy
City of Jerusalem are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity
whatsoever, and deploring the transfer by some States of their diplomatic missions to
Jerusalem in violation of Security Council resolution 478 of 1980).
It is, thus, less than surprising that given the denial mindset characterizing much
political Zionist narrative, the late Prime Minister of the state of Israel, committed to
the denial of the illegality of declaring Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel,
would seek to justify the defence of this illegality by another denial, namely the denial
of the war crimes he ordered in 'Imwas Yalu and Beit Nuba, through the misguided
analogy to the highway between Toronto and Ottawa. There are no UN General
Assembly and Security Council resolutions stipulating that the declaration of Ottawa
as the capital city of Canada constitutes a violation of international law.
Rabin's claims to the defence of the highway to Jerusalem as its presumed capital city
are as illegal as his claims that it was justified for him to order the perpetration of war
crimes and crimes against humanity in the case of 'Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba in the
name of the defence and the security of the said highway.
It is not the first time that Rabin had perpetrated war crimes and crime against
humanity in this area. As Commander of the Har'el Brigade, it was Yitzhaq Rabin,
inter alia, who orchestrated, under the command of Yigal Allon the ethnic cleansing
of the Palestinian Arab cities of Lydda and Ramle in what is referred to in Zionist
annals as the Dani Operation. Shahak, The Zionist plans for the Middle East,
As reported by David Shipler in 1979, while the fighting was still in progress, the
senior command of the Israeli forces had to grapple with a troublesome problem, for
whose solution they could not draw on any previous experience: the fate of the
civilian population of Lydda and Ramle, numbering some 50,000. In a meeting that
included Rabin, Ben Gurion and Yigal Allon the question of the cities of Lydda and
Ramle was debated.
Not even Ben-Gurion could offer any solution, and during the discussions at
operational headquarters, he remained silent, as was his habit in such
situations. Clearly, we could not leave Lod's hostile and armed population in
our rear, where it could endanger the supply route to Yiftach [another
brigade], which was advancing eastward.
We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his
question: "What is to be done with the population?" B.G. waved his hand in a
gesture which said "Drive them out!."
Allon and Rabin held a consultation. Rabin agreed that it was essential to drive the
inhabitants out. They were taken on foot towards the Bet Horon Road, assuming that
the legion would be obliged to look after them, thereby shouldering logistic
difficulties which would burden its fighting capacity, making things easier for the
The population of Lydda did not leave willingly. There was no way of avoiding the
use of force and warning shots in order to make the inhabitants march the 10 to 15
miles to the point where they met up with the Jordanian Arab Legion.
The inhabitants of Ramle watched and seemed to have learned the lesson. Their
Leaders agreed to evacuate voluntarily, on condition that the evacuation was carried
out by vehicles. Buses took them to Latrun, and from there, they were evacuated by
Some of Rabin's soldiers refused to take part in the expulsion action. Prolonged
propaganda activities were required after the action, to remove the bitterness of these
youth-movement groups, and explain why the senior command was obliged to
undertake such a harsh and cruel action.
The prolonged propaganda seemed to have worked. It took thirty odd years before the
Rabin's first person account of the expulsion of the Palestinian Arab civilian
population of the cities of Lydda and Ramle in the course of the 1948 war censored
out of the first Hebrew and English editions of his memoirs saw the light of day.
(Based on David K. Shipler , "Israel Bars Rabin From Relating '48 Eviction of
Arabs", New York Times, 23 and 25 October 1979; Peretz Kidron, "Truth Whereby
Nations Live" in Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens (eds), Blaming the Victim,
1988; & http://student.cs.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/articles/article0005217.txt)
In 1994 Rabin in his capacity as Prime Minister of the State of Israel, together with
Shimon Peres in his capacity of Foreign Minister of the state of Israel and Yasser
Arafat in his capacity as Chairman of the Palestine liberation Organization were
granted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo "for their efforts to create peace in the Middle
It is the view of this author that the said Nobel Prize for Peace ought to be withdrawn
from Rabin posthumously and from Peres immediately.
'Imwas Prior to 1967
'Imwas 1958 – Photograph courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association
Israeli occupation date: 7 June, 1967.
Distance from district center: 12 (km) Southeast of Ramle.
Elevation from the sea: 200 meters.
Village defenders: Jordanian army and at the outbreak of the war some Egyptian
Based on the orders of Yitzhaq Rabin, Israeli army Chief-of-Staff at the time,
subsequently Prime Minister of the State of Israel and Nobel Prize laureate, armored
jeeps broadcasted orders for the immediate eviction of the three villages of 'Imwas,
Yalu, and Beit Nuba to the East Bank. The inhabitants were given only a few hours to
gather their possessions, forcibly directing them towards Ramallah. To expedite the
ethnic cleansing process, as in 1948 war, the Israeli army shot over the heads of the
fleeing villagers to make sure they would not come back. Soon after, the three villages
were bulldozed and dynamited by the Israeli army.
Neighboring towns: al-Latrun, Yalu, Deir Ayyub, Salbit, and al-Qubab.
Village clans or hamulas: The village was mostly populated by the Abu Gosh family.
Land ownership before occupation (Dunums): Arab, 5,151; Jewish, 0; Public, 16;
Population before occupation: 1922, 824; 1931, 1,021; 1945, 1,450 (including 2
Christians); 1961, 1,955 (40 Christians)
Number of houses: In 1931: 224.
Town's name through history: 'Imwas means "hot springs". In the year 70 Emmaus
was renamed Nicopolis, that is "City of Victory" by the Roman conquerors of the
Schools: The village had two schools, the first of which was for boys which was
founded in 1919, and in 1947 it became a full elementary school with 6 teachers and
an enrollment of 187 pupils. Soon after al-Nakba, the boys' school became a full
elementary and a secondary school with an enrollment of 304 boys in 1967. The boys'
school also had a small library which contained 376 books. The second school was for
girls which had an enrollment of 172 girls in 1967.
Inhabitants place of origin: The majority of the villagers belonged to the Abu Gosh
family many of whom were ethnically cleansed from Abu Gosh or Qaryat al-'Anab,
West of Jerusalem in 1948. A few of the inhabitants trace their roots back to Egypt.
Religious institutions: Two Mosques
Shrines/maqams: Two shrines: The first belongs to Abu 'Ubydah Ibn al-Jarrah, the
conqueror of Palestine (13 A.H./634 A.D.) from Byzantia at battle of Ajnadin.
Although the shrine is still intact, it is deteriorating and in need of serious renovation.
The second shrine/tomb for Mu'ath Ibn Jabal, a companion of the prophet
Water supplies: Several spring and wells provided 'Imwas with its drinking water
supplies, and the most famous of these well is Beir al-Hilu (the Sweet Well) close to
the Trappist Monastery in al-Latrun village.
Archeological sites: The village had many archeological sites and most famous these
sites are: Khirbat al-'Aqed, located between Yalu and 'Imwas, Khirbat Deir Thakir,
and to the East of 'Imwas, Khirbat Umm Haratayn.
The village has been completely obliterated. Over its ruins the Jewish National Fund
of Canada developed Canada Park. The only surviving structure is the shrine of Abu
'Ubydah Ibn al-Jarrah.
'Imwas after its destruction in the hands of the Israeli army in 1967 –Photograph
courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association
Refugees' migration route: Like their predecessors, the refugees from Lydda and
Ramle in 1948, the villagers fled towards the Ramallah area. Many slept in
Ramallah's bus station for at least a week, until they were invited in by some of their
relatives in the area. Some made it on foot across the bombed Allenby bridge on the
Jordan river to Amman, Jordan.
Ethnically cleansing by Israeli army: The village was completely ethnically cleansed.
Some village inhabitants were ethnically cleansed twice: both in 1948 and in 1967.
Terminating refugee camps: Many villagers fled to Ramallah and al-Bira to join
relatives, and a few made it on foot across the borders to Amman, Jordan.
Israeli settlements on town lands: Canada Park.
(Based on http://www.palestineremembered.com/al-Ramla/Imwas/index.html)
Canada Park, 1978, the section developed over the ruins of 'Imwas – Photograph
courtesy of the 'Imwas Charitable Association
Eyewitness Report by the Author
Towards my departure to North America for my lecture tour on the subject of
"Apartheid Israel and the Jewish National Fund: The Story of 'Imwas, Yalu, Beit
Nuba and Canada Park" I undertook to do my fieldwork in the locality. I visited
Canada Park on 2 September 2004, prior to my departure for my lecture tour, assisted
by Adnan Abu Ghosh, a refugee of 'Imwas, and the on 9 October 2004, on my own.
The signpost referred to by Trish Wood in her splendid 1991 documentary, "Park
With No Peace: Canada Park" directing visitors to Canada Park one kilometer away is
no longer there. According to workers on the Park, it has been removed some years
back. An equally offensive signpost, however, is now posted at the approaches to
Canada Park, directing the traffic to the wholly illegal settlement of Mevo Horon,
built inside the post-1967 occupied territories on the lands of the destroyed Palestinian
Arab village of Beit Nuba, and the new City of Modi'in, built in part inside the pre-
1967 armistice lines (the "Green Line" drawn in the 1949 armistice agreements signed
between the State of Israel and its neighbouring Arab states signifying the cessation of
the 1948-49 war hostilities) and in part inside the post-1967 occupied territories:
Similarly, at least some of the prominent JNF wooden signposts reported in Trish
Wood's documentary above, designating the location as "Canada Park" have been
replaced or modified to read "Ayalon Park",