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What Canadians can do for Palestine this February

Middle East
on 15 Comments

Last June, a few days after the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, over 80 academics, activists, and community leaders signed an open letter calling for Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) to stand in support of Palestinian rights. The letter outlined the many facets of Israel’s daily oppression of the Palestinian people, and proposed several policy changes that would significantly improve the NDP’s stance on the matter.

At the time, the NDP was in the process of redefining itself and electing a new leader. Thomas Mulcair, the outgoing leader, had performed poorly, and many felt that he was pulling the party away from its progressive roots, especially on Israel/Palestine. In 2014, as Israel bombarded civilians in Gaza, Mulcair blamed Palestinians. A year later, in the 2015 federal election, he sacked several NDP candidates specifically because of their support of Palestinian rights. His stance disappointed many longtime New Democrats.

Those who crafted the open letter in June, myself included, wanted to make it clear that Mulcair’s views were not the norm, but that the very opposite was true. A 2017 survey noted that 84% of New Democrats and 66% of Canadians felt imposing sanctions on Israel was reasonable because of its settlement program. As the leadership race began to unfold, it became clear that leadership candidates understood this. Mulcair’s “Israel right or wrong” attitude was not only absent among all leadership candidates, it was even subject to open disdain. The discussion never revolved around which side candidates stood with. Rather, the question was to what extent they were willing to go to secure justice for Palestinians.

All of this is a signal that the tide is shifting in the NDP and in Canadian politics in general when it comes to Israel/Palestine. The many campaigns led by Palestine solidarity activists in Canada are finally making progress.

In February, there will be another opportunity to make even more progress. That month, the NDP will be having its first convention after the leadership race, and members will debate and vote on new policies. One of the policies being discussed is specifically concerned with Palestinian rights.

If passed, the proposed policy on Palestine would make the NDP the largest party in Canada calling for the use of diplomatic and economic pressure to end Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories. It would also make the NDP one of the few parties demanding that any resolution be based on international law and human rights (including refugee rights) – as opposed to being based on unequal power dynamics that have stifled negotiations between Israel as the occupying power on the one hand, and the occupied Palestinians on the other.

The momentum around this proposal has steadily grown within the NDP since its initial suggestion a few months ago. Several politicians have shown interest in it, the NDP’s youth wing officially endorsed it, and many local NDP chapters supported its submission to the convention.

But in the end, the proposal’s success will depend on the number of people in the room raising their hands to vote for it. Palestine solidarity activists must make use of this opportunity by attending the convention.

So I invite you. In February, join us and raise your hand for Palestine.

About Yazan Khader

Yazan Khader is a Palestinian organizer based in Canada.

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15 Responses

  1. LHunter
    January 15, 2018, 4:47 pm

    Great news coming from one of the three major parties in Canadian politics. The Green Party of Canada (not one of the three) is about as good as it gets in terms of political support for Palestinian rights. They stopped short of endorsing BDS.

    https://www.greenparty.ca/en/policy/vision-green/world/israel-palestine

    Hopefully the NDP will go even further this coming February.

    • Nathan
      January 15, 2018, 8:22 pm

      LHunter – You tell us that the Green Party “stopped short of endorsing BDS”. Actually, reading the link that you provided, the Green Party claims that the right of the State of Israel to exist is “inviolable”. Moreover, since “the Green Party supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that addresses the security, economic, and religious concerns of the BOTH sides”, indeed, the Green Party “stopped short of endorsing BDS”. The BDS Movement does not address the concerns of Israel at all. Apparently, the Green Party of Canada is not an anti-Israel organization, so the mention of BDS in this context is really quite unjustified.

      • Misterioso
        January 16, 2018, 4:07 pm

        @Nathan

        “the Green Party supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that addresses the security, economic, and religious concerns of the BOTH sides.”

        Regrettably, as its record clearly attests, Israel does not!!

        As for the Palestinians, they do.

        By signing the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO accepted UNSC Res. 242 and thereby agreed to recognize a sovereign Israel within the 1949 armistice lines, i.e., as of 4 June 1967 – 78% of mandate Palestine.

        The PLO also agreed to the US/EU/UN supported 2002 Arab League Beirut Summit Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full recognition as a sovereign state (per UNSC Res. 242, i.e., within its June 4/67 boundaries with possible minor, equal and mutually agreed land swaps), exchange of ambassadors, trade, tourism, etc., if Israel complies with international law (e.g., the UN Charter, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute) and its previous commitments. Fully aware of Israel’s demographic concerns, the Beirut initiative does not demand the return of all Palestinian refugees. In accordance with Israel’s pledge given to the UNGA in 1949 and by signing the 1949 Lausanne Peace Conference Protocol to abide by UNGA Res. 194 regarding the then 800,000 Palestinian refugees as a precondition for admittance to the UN (after being rejected twice), the Arab League’s Initiative “calls upon Israel to affirm” that it agrees to help pursue the “achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem…” As stipulated in UNGA Res. 194, a “just solution” can be financial compensation for the refugees rather than their inalienable right of return to the lands from which they were expelled by Jewish forces and the IDF.

        Regarding Hamas:
        http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/hamas-vows-to-honor-palestinian-referendum-on-peace-with-israel-1.328234

        “‘We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees,’ Haniyeh said, referring to the year of Middle East war in which Israel captured East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. ” (Haaretz, December 1, 2010)

        Along with all Arab states and the PLO, Hezbollah and Iran have also accepted the Arab League’s 2002 Beirut Summit Peace Initiative. In its revised Charter, April, 2017, Hamas again agreed to a Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 borders. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Israel promptly rejected the Hamas overture instead of using it to open a dialogue.

        Regrettably, then Israeli PM Ariel Sharon summarily dismissed the Arab League’s peace overture, as did Israel in 2008 and thereafter.

        As for the much touted 2000 Camp David Summit, working in tandem, Barak and Clinton tried to shove a very bad deal down Arafat’s throat. It could only be rejected. Suffice to quote Shlomo Ben-Ami, then Israel’s foreign minister and lead negotiator at Camp David: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.” (National Public Radio, 14 February 2006.)

        The “offer” made in 2008 by then Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was never seen as serious because it lacked cabinet approval, he was under indictment with only a few weeks left in office, had a 6% favorable rating, and, therefore, couldn’t have closed the deal, even if the Palestinians had accepted it. (Olmert was imprisoned.)

        Unfortunately, Israel’s response to every peace overture from the Palestinians and Arab states, has been an escalation of illegal settlement construction, dispossession and oppression in occupied Palestinian and other Arab lands.

        Indeed, it is readily apparent that Israel’s objective is to seize and incorporate all of historic Palestine and subjugate its indigenous Palestinian Arab inhabitants in order to “encourage” them to emigrate elsewhere.

        (Israel is also intent on retaining Syria’s Golan Heights and Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms/Kfarshuba hills, which it invaded and ethnically cleansed in June 1967 and has illegally occupied since.)

      • LHunter
        January 16, 2018, 8:27 pm

        Nathan – see Misterioso comment which was wonderfully written and informative. Perhaps you can send him a thanks for the free education you are constantly receiving and in desperate need of.

        I’ll go first – thanks Misterioso sincerely

      • Nathan
        January 16, 2018, 10:56 pm

        Misterioso – Perhaps you should read the new Hamas Charter (2017). It’s true that they are willing to go for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as a first stage, but it’s not an acceptance of Israel or an offer of peace. The charter is clear that the entire country from the river to the sea must be liberated. I’m really certain that you have read the new charter, so I believe that you have written a misleading comment. Anyway, here’s a quote or two: “19. There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity….” “20. Hamas believes that no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances and the pressures and no matter how long the occupation lasts. Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea”.

        Yes, you can find many quotes in which the PLO recognized Israel (past tense). However, you won’t find any statement in which it is said that the PLO recognizes Israel (present tense). They do NOT recognize Israel, period. Actually, they have said so in very clear Arabic just this week.

        After trying to demonstrate that Hamas and the PLO have some kind of offer for peace with Israel, one might conclude that you yourself have a vision of peace with Israel. Do you?

      • Mooser
        January 17, 2018, 12:56 am

        “I’ll go first – thanks Misterioso sincerely”

        I’ve been meaning to do that, too. Thanks, “Misterioso”.

      • Talkback
        January 17, 2018, 9:16 am

        Nathan: “The charter is clear that the entire country from the river to the sea must be liberated.”

        Yep, like the plattform of the ruling party in Israel. And let’s be honest. There is not a single party in Israel who dreams about a souvereign Palestininan state.

        Nathan: “Yes, you can find many quotes in which the PLO recognized Israel (past tense). However, you won’t find any statement in which it is said that the PLO recognizes Israel (present tense). They do NOT recognize Israel, period.”

        Yeah, sure. That must be the reason why some are thinking about suspending the recognition of the Jewish Apartheid Junta until it recognizes the State of Palestine.
        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/palestinian-israel-suspend-recognition-plo-trump-jerusalem-a8161006.html

        Do you need to distract from the fact that the Jewish Apartheid Junta has NEVER recognized the State of Palestine? Not even in th past. Period?

  2. JosephA
    January 15, 2018, 6:45 pm

    Canadians seem to be light years ahead of their neighbors the American political parties on this topic.

    • oldgeezer
      January 15, 2018, 8:55 pm

      @JospehA

      I would like to think so and I would be extremely proud of it.

      That said so I don’t think that is correct. The majority of Canadian citizens are on side the Palestinians and the majority of them think sanctions are an apprpropriate response to Israeli actions.

      The Conservative party is largely in hock to the right wing racists and freaks as well as Christian nutters looking forward to the rapture. There are overlaps in that group.

      The Liberals are in hock to zionist donors and the chief fundraiser for Trudeau is non other than one of the Bronfman clan.

      The NDP party is more split and time will tell what direction the party platform may take. You’d have better odds of finding life elsewhere in the universe during the next four years than you will of seeing an NDP federal gov’t.

      The odds of the Green Party are even more remote and there is the added disadvantage that their leader is pro Israel.

      Canadian elections are like all elections world wide and issues regarding foreign policy are likely to take a bit of a back seat to national issues with the exception of going/not going to war.

      So while the Canadian people have great support for the Palestinians it doesn’t translate into political support at the government level. That is not likely to change soon although I, for one of many, will continue to try to make that change happen.

      • Citizen
        January 16, 2018, 1:23 am

        @ oldgeezer

        Thanks for your insight.

      • lonely rico
        January 16, 2018, 2:26 am

        > oldgeezer

        Canadian elections are like all elections world wide and issues regarding foreign policy are likely to take a bit of a back seat to national issues
        So while the Canadian people have great support for the Palestinians it doesn’t translate into political support at the government level. That is not likely to change soon although I, for one of many, will continue to try to make that change happen.

        I agree with just about everything you write. I do think that the issue of Palestine being included in the NDP platform, will force it into the public discourse, even if only slightly. Of course bread & butter issues will overshadow foreign policy stuff as you rightly point out.
        I am one of many, write Justin once every 2 or 3 weeks about Israel’s violence and criminality. For the time being (the last 3 years), it’s very much a one-way correspondence.

      • oldgeezer
        January 16, 2018, 9:20 am

        @Citizen

        Not sure it’s insight but merely my take on things. I should have added the Green party officially adopted a pro Palestinian position yet their leader disagrees with that position (how can she lead?)

        @lonely rico

        I occassionally make comment to JT as well. In particular I like to remind him of his statement that our foreign policy positions will be based upon international law. An approach I have yet to see him take.

      • LHunter
        January 16, 2018, 8:20 pm

        oldgeezer – An accurate summary. The Green Party leader is why the party did not fully adopt BDS despite the best efforts of senior party members. She almost resigned over the whole pro palestinian push in her party. I was hoping she would.

        It remains to be seen how far the NDP will go but I’m not expecting anything shocking. They are not a player at the federal level but may be in a few years with the right leadership.

        I used to vote liberal but Trudeau is a Zionist stooge and not very bright – his environmental record is also substandard. He’s more concerned with how his hair looks than the country or world.

      • oldgeezer
        January 16, 2018, 9:14 pm

        @LHunter

        I was hoping she would too.

        I disagree about Justin’s hair. I think he favours his socks more. Great great disappointment but frankly I’d prefer Casey and Finnegan over Harper or Scheer. I could have voted for Mulcair but for his pro Israeli views and attempts to silence other opinions. Partly due to the silencing and partly because how we relate to the world is very important to me. Despite our complaints we live in relative luxury and we need to bring more up to where we are (and not the neolib method of finding the lowest for all)

  3. Bont Eastlake
    January 16, 2018, 9:12 pm

    Canada can follow in the steps of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Iran etc. All significantly poorer countries not due to their own faults yet still thrive while having no diplomatic relations with Israel. If Pakistan can go decades without recognizing Israel, surely Canada with it’s economic might, political stability and military prowess would have zero problems dealing with any issues by cutting ties to Israel.

    Canada has no excuse in continuing to maintain relationships with Israel, while claiming to be a moral country that respects human rights and the international law.

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