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Canadian Greens back BDS

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In a historic move, delegates at the Green Party of Canada’s national convention in Ottawa this past weekend adopted a policy resolution supporting the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The resolution declares Green Party support for “the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (“BDS”) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the [Occupied Palestinian Territories] … until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction in the OPT, and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state.”

The resolution, carried by a large majority in plenary session, also opposes “all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS.”

GPC leader Elizabeth May, the party’s only sitting member in Commons, opposed this weekend’s BDS resolution. “I would rather not, as leader, be leading a party that has endorsed BDS,” she stated during discussion of the resolution in committee.

“This is a perfectly legitimate movement,” May said. “There is nothing illegal about it, and within the Charter of Rights of Freedoms. So, I am uncomfortable with the demonization of this movement. But there is for me, no question that there’s a better way to put pressure on Israel, bearing in mind the history of Israel; the fact that it’s, I think, a tactic that won’t work.”

May proposed that Canadians support the “extraordinary” opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies among former members of the IDF and Mossad.

“We need a two-state solution, and the way things are going there will be no Palestine for a two-state solution,” May said. “So it comes to the point where, what’s our best method going forward. And I think tactics like BDS, that make the people and the state of Israel think that they are under assault, and that they have lost allies and friends around the world, is not going to succeed.”

In a party press release following adjournment of the Green Party convention on Sunday, May was quoted as saying: “As Leader, I am disappointed that the membership has adopted a policy in favour of a movement that I believe to be polarizing, ineffective and unhelpful in the quest for peace and security for the peoples of the Middle East. As is the right of any member, I will continue to express personal opposition to BDS.”

Saturday’s resolution places Canada’s Greens in frank opposition to the Canadian House of Commons, which voted overwhelmingly in February to condemn BDS, on the grounds that it “promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.” Both Conservative and governing Liberal Party members have referred to BDS as “the new face of antisemitism.” Elizabeth May was not present for that vote, but declared her opposition to condemning the movement at that time.

Where to from here? Dimitri Lascaris, the Green Party’s Justice Critic and author of the BDS resolution, is hopeful. “Assuming that our leader continues to act as a spokesperson for party policy and not of her own personal opinions, it places us in the forefront of human rights in this country, on an issue with respect to which it has been very difficult for human rights advocates to speak out,” says Lascaris. “The first thing that I’m concerned about is attempts that will be made now by opponents of BDS to somehow discredit this decision, or pressure the party into withdrawing it.”

Lascaris will be calling upon other parties, including Canada’s center-left New Democrats, to “stand tall” by supporting BDS.

A second policy resolution voted on at this weekend’s Green Party convention, calling on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada, passed committee by an almost three to one margin, but was then gutted in plenary in a swift series of procedural moves apparently engineered by Elizabeth May and the party chair. Reference to the JNF was excised, calling simply for the CRA “to revoke the charitable status of or to refrain from conferring charitable status upon any organization that is complicit in the violation of Canadian or international human rights law.”

Advocates for the original resolution complained that the original motion had been “hijacked,” and was now reduced to “mere platitude.”

“This allows us to tackle all organizations,” a supporter of the now-generic resolution argued during plenary. “This doesn’t water it down; this strengthens it, and allows us to actually address human rights issues and charitable organizations that are discriminating against people.”

“Everyone rebukes organizations that are against human rights,” said another. “It is totally meaningless to say this now.”

According to Corey Levine, author of the original version of the JNF resolution, Elizabeth May had been “approached and pressured by the JNF to take [their name] out and I think it’s really important that we not be bullied and cowed by them.”.

Elizabeth May certainly faced intense pressure prior to the vote – from the JNF, B’nai Brith, and a group calling itself the “Green Movement of Israel.” Josh Cooper, CEO of JNF Canada, sat down with May before the vote, and was invited to present his views at this weekend’s party convention. Cooper declined the invitation, expressing dismay at being asked to attend on a Saturday.

Asked in an email to elaborate on his objections to the JNF-related motion, Cooper responded: “I have already said everything that needs to be said on the record. Even [Elizabeth May] has acknowledged that the [JNF and BDS] resolutions are filled with lies.”

Cooper did not reply to follow-up email notes asking him to specifically identify the “lies” in question. Requests for copies of the JNF’s constitution or statutes – reportedly containing clauses prohibiting lease or sale of JNF lands to non-Jews – were also ignored.

The JNF’s discriminatory polices are common knowledge. The U.S. State Department, in its 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, stated that the JNF’s statutes “prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.” Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ruled, in 2005, that JNF practices are “discriminatory.”

Notwithstanding her opposition to the JNF resolution as originally drafted, Green Party leader Elizabeth May is perfectly aware of what the JNF is all about.

“I have a lot of trouble with the Jewish National Fund,” she told delegates at this weekend’s convention. “I’m not insensitive to the argument that Jewish National Fund is very close [sic] to any kind of line that we would want to see around Canadian charities.”

“The Jewish National Fund has been complicit and involved in human rights violations in building Canada Park on top of land that was dispossessed from Palestinians who were living there in 1967,” she told delegates in committee.

“We have a place called Canada Park on top of villages [Yalu, Imwas and Beit Nuba] that were illegally dispossessed, bulldozed, and people never allowed to go home … But I’m also aware that when we met with Jewish National Fund, they said, well, look, we were asked by the government of Israel to plant trees.”

“People say [the JNF] is an environmental organization,” May went on, honing in on matters close to Green hearts. “Good argument, except that they plant conifers. If they were primarily an environmental foundation, they would plant trees indigenous to the region.”

But May said she wanted to “continue a dialogue with Jewish National Fund, to see if they are prepared to work towards making reparations for the many injustices – the discriminatory, exclusionary, and racist land policies that they’ve resulted in.”

“I will pursue the question of Jewish National Fund violations of the law, and whether they are appropriate for Canada charitable status,” she promised party delegates.

Green Party delegate Corey Levine, who authored the original JNF resolution, says she’ll wait and see. “I’m disappointed as a Jew,” said Levine. “I put this forward because the JNF don’t speak for me, as a Jew. They are using environmentalism, which is at the heart of the Green Party, to commit human rights violations and dispossess people from their land, and I felt that that needed to be singularly addressed, and they’re doing it at the expense of Canadian taxpayers. So, that resolution, while the leader may say, okay, we’re still committed, the resolution really doesn’t have any meaning.”

About David Kattenburg

David Kattenburg is a Winnipeg-based radio/web broadcaster and science educator.

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33 Responses

  1. amigo
    amigo on August 8, 2016, 2:40 pm

    “Saturday’s resolution places Canada’s Greens in frank opposition to the Canadian House of Commons, which voted overwhelmingly in February to condemn BDS, on the grounds that it “promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.”

    Hmmmm, last time I looked (10 seconds ago” Israel was still busy delegitimizing itself.They need no help, from BDS in that endeavour, given 70 plus years of practice and are doing a bang up job.

    Does Canada have the equivalent of aipac and would that be cipac.

    • kattenbu
      kattenbu on August 8, 2016, 4:37 pm

      Not certain if AIPAC operates in Canada, as such. There are certainly lots of Zionist/Israel-right-or-wrong groups up here.

      • amigo
        amigo on August 8, 2016, 5:06 pm

        David, thanks for the article.Good to get some positive news for a change.

      • talknic
        talknic on August 8, 2016, 8:40 pm

        Canadian equivalent of AIPAC is the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

  2. eljay
    eljay on August 8, 2016, 3:27 pm

    Kudos to Ms. May and the Green Party for backing BDS.

    I hope…
    – they’re ready for and able to withstand the blowback they will face; and
    – they can cut through Zio-supremacist noise and get Canadians to understand that BDS represents a just and moral counter to the past and on-going acts of injustice and immorality being committed by the colonialist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel.

    • kattenbu
      kattenbu on August 8, 2016, 4:38 pm

      Except Elizabeth opposed the resolution. She opposes BDS.

      • eljay
        eljay on August 8, 2016, 6:07 pm

        || David Kattenburg: Except Elizabeth opposed the resolution. She opposes BDS. ||

        Apologies. I skimmed through the article and my pleasant surprise at her comments in favour of reparations, a two-state solution, etc. caused me to miss her comments in opposition to BDS. It’s a shame she can’t get behind it.

    • JulianaFarha
      JulianaFarha on August 8, 2016, 4:41 pm

      It’s not just ‘Zio supremacist’ noise. It’s so-called supporters of Palestinian rights who prefer an endless talking shop – while Israel expedites its frenzied colonisation project – to supporting a principled, non-violent and targeted means of expressing opposition.

  3. DaBakr
    DaBakr on August 8, 2016, 7:21 pm

    have the rights of indigenous canadian peoples that have been displaced from their native lands over centuries (like many jews were displaced and scattered through northern africa, persia and the caucauses after the arab/muslim conquest) taken a back seat to palestinians who descend mostly from the arab colonizers of the levant circa 600-900 ce.

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer on August 8, 2016, 11:11 pm

      While you’ve been a tool, you have never been the sharpest one in the shed.

      The green party has a large number of issues in it’s platform.

      You zionists are lower than pondscum with half tbe iq.

    • RoHa
      RoHa on August 8, 2016, 11:17 pm

      Fallacy of “pointing to another wrong”.

      Whatever happens regarding the rights of the Canadian Indians, it does not diminish the rights of the Palestinians.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus on August 8, 2016, 11:39 pm

      many jews were displaced and scattered through northern africa, persia and the caucauses after the arab/muslim conquest

      Who told you that in the Zionist swamp you were raised in (without ever coming up for air)? The nanny-gator? Let’s have this totally unknown history of scattering to the “Caucasusses” and outer planets, who recorded it?
      What a true Zio-critter you are, never ashamed from being ridiculous. It’s the Arab expansion that kept the Jews unconverted and alive in the near East and the European-Byzantine areas, stupid. As for the “Caucasusses” (how many of them?), look no further than the Khazar kingdom.

    • talknic
      talknic on August 9, 2016, 6:33 am

      A Zio-dump @ DaBakr August 8, 2016, 7:21 pm

      “have the rights of indigenous canadian peoples that have been displaced from their native lands over centuries (like many jews were displaced and scattered through northern africa, persia and the caucauses after the arab/muslim conquest) taken a back seat to palestinians who descend mostly from the arab colonizers of the levant circa 600-900 ce”

      Try something else from the bag of Zio-nonsense

      Canada’s indigenous population can vote for the controlling Canadian Government. Palestinians can’t vote for the Government of “Israel, the Occupying Power”

      BTW Canada stopped colonizing other folks territory decades ago. So did the UK, Australia, the USA. Israel CONTINUES to colonize non Israeli territories and to dispossess the legal inhabitants to this very day

    • zaid
      zaid on August 9, 2016, 1:13 pm


      Jews are racially heterogeneous and none of them is original to the Levant. Basically,Jews are as indigenous to Palestine as Barak Obama.

      There is consensus among Archaeologists that the expulsion of Jews from Palestine never Happened and that they were Christianized and later Islamised and Arabized and they are part of the modern day Palestinian Muslim population. And there is a growing consensus among Geneticists that Ashkenazi Jews are original to northern Anatolia (Khazars) and not the levant.

      Palestinians are the only indigenous population to Palestine and they consist of the descendants of those who lived in Palestine for more than 5000 year and the Arabs who came With the Islamic conquests who also are original to the Levant prior to drifting to Arabia (5000 BC).

      A recent genetic study of Neolithic and Natufians (10000 BC) DNA from Palestine showed them to be perfect match for modern day Palestinians.

      In Short….Levantines looks like me and not like you.

      • Boomer
        Boomer on August 9, 2016, 10:01 pm

        re “the origin of Yiddish” etc. Interesting. To me it is a matter of of history, not something that should determine what is correct policy in Palestine today, but interesting nevertheless.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus on August 10, 2016, 1:43 am


      Nu? Everybody is waiting, impatient to have the documentation about the “jews were displaced and scattered through northern africa, persia and the caucauses after the arab/muslim conquest”

      • RoHa
        RoHa on August 10, 2016, 2:47 am

        I don’t know about everyone, but I know that I have been waiting for a very long time to get answers to these few basic questions.

        What does “homeland” mean?

        What conditions have to be fulfilled for Land X to be the homeland of Person Y?

        What chain of moral reasoning gives Person Y a right to reside in his homeland?

        What is the basis for these claims of Jews having a “right to nationhood”, a “right to self-determination”, and a “right to self-determination in their national home”?

        Why do these alleged rights outweigh the rights of the people actually living in the land?

        Why does it matter whether or not the Arabs of Palestine had an Arab Palestinian “identity” before the Zionists arrived?

        Why does it matter whether or not there was a Palestinian state before 1948?

        Will I get answers to these before you get your documentation of Jewish displacement? Find out in the next episode!

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus on August 10, 2016, 3:40 am

        Don’t overload him, RoHa. The subject already short-circuits on a single wire.

    • K Renner
      K Renner on August 14, 2016, 7:21 am


      Yawn. What’s the difference between Canada and Israel?

      In Canada, we’re at least taught that what was done to the native peoples was a crime and not something to be proud of in terms of the history of the nation. Aboriginals have freedom of movement and equal rights.

      In Israel? Jews are taught that the ethnically cleansing, land-stealing Yishuv was “the real victim” and brainwashed to believe, as you are, that the Palestinians were and are “foreign” to the land and that dirt peasants and city dwellers from Europe were and are the “real” inhabitants.

      In Israel, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians is seen as a heroic act to create the “Jewish state”, if it’s even acknowledged at all. The Zionist and Jewish street froths with hatred at the very notion of Palestinians having rights or even the right to exist.

      Quite simply: you’re the worst kind of ridiculous hypocrite. Go away, DaBakr.

  4. oldgeezer
    oldgeezer on August 8, 2016, 7:37 pm

    My hat is off to the green party. May should hang her head in shame, however, having buckled to zionist pressure before the vote. Did she meet with any Palestinian groups just before the vote or merely those of the zionist kind?

    Clearly the green party are not about to form a government in the near future but this will being the issue tobthe public. The best thing is that the zionest attacks will further promote the movement as Camadians see the vile smears they never hesitate to throw around.

  5. Another Dave
    Another Dave on August 8, 2016, 9:47 pm

    Hmmm, I might be voting Green in the next Federal Election.

    I used to vote NDP, but their last leader was playing nice with the separatists…

  6. RoHa
    RoHa on August 8, 2016, 11:14 pm

    “And I think tactics like BDS, that make the people and the state of Israel think that they are under assault, and that they have lost allies and friends around the world, is not going to succeed.”

    Perhaps those tactics will not succeed, but what tactics will? (May is, of course, under no obligation to tell us. Pointing out what is not the case does not require one to point out what is the case.) But it would be nice if someone could.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    Vera Gottlieb on August 9, 2016, 11:38 am

    BRAVO!!! Canada Green Party!!! As a Canadian I am ashamed of Ottawa’s position of support vis-a-vis the Zionists’ demeaning behaviour towards Palestinians. Rather sad to have to realize how far and how deep Zionists’ tentacles have reached.

    • K Renner
      K Renner on August 14, 2016, 7:15 am

      At least JT won’t stand for overt anti-Palestinian demonization on the part of the pro-Israel Jewish community, though. There’s a slight improvement over Harpoid, at least.

      I really do believe that JT ought to be more like his father. Good work on the Syrian refugees, though.

  8. fwhite
    fwhite on August 9, 2016, 3:20 pm

    With reference to Dimitri Lascaris’ remark, “…it places us in the forefront of human rights in this country, on an issue with respect to which it has been very difficult for human rights advocates to speak out” –

    On a related point of clarification: Many Canadian individuals and NGOs have, for years, been advocating for Palestinian human rights. We have little difficulty in speaking out, but politicians, for obvious politically expedient reasons, aren’t listening. Moreover, Canadian pro-Palestinian supporters can’t match the power, influence, and organizational muscle of the pro-Israeli side. On top of that, one can’t ignore the considerable influence on public opinion of Canada’s pro-Israel, corporate controlled news media.

    In light of the above, and given Green party leader Elizabeth May’s determined opposition to the BDS resolution, what is the immediate practical significance of the party’s adoption of the resolution?

    • annie
      annie on August 9, 2016, 4:03 pm

      fw, Lascaris says it’s been very difficult for human rights advocates to speak out on this issue yet you say “we” have little difficulty. could it be that pro palestine activists have little difficulty speaking out but generally speaking many human rights activists find advocating for palestine more challenging?

      wrt the immediate practical significance i would think the green resolution backing bds would, as Lascaris points out, place the party in the forefront of human rights in canada thereby having more influence on public opinion and making the issue more challenging for Canada’s news media to ignore.

  9. oldgeezer
    oldgeezer on August 9, 2016, 5:24 pm

    I have written to the green party thanking them for their brave stand and outlining why I feel such policies are needed.

    As CIJA is attempting to have people write and document their opposition I hope other supportive Canadians do so as well.

    • lonely rico
      lonely rico on August 9, 2016, 8:56 pm

      > oldgeezer

      I too sent them a note of appreciation, coupled with a small contribution to the Green Party of Canada.

      Elizabeth May has been wobbly from the get-go on I-P. During the massacre of Gaza (2014), she stated –
      “Israeli retaliation and the invasion of Gaza violates international law and humanitarian norms. The death and destruction in a place that was already experiencing a humanitarian crisis is simply unjustifiable … The death toll among Gaza’s civilians provokes the conscience of the world.”
      Despite the weasel words “Israeli retaliation”, this was an improvement over the disgusting statements mouthed by the leaders of the three major parties in Canada at the time – “Israel has the right to defend itself” (the principle of rape in self-defense).
      However, under pressure May later backtracked, equivocating and joining the chorus chanting ‘Israel’s right to self defense.’
      In passing, one federal politician, Mario Beaulieu (Bloc-Québecois), came out unequivocally against the Gaza bloodletting –
      «La population palestinienne à Gaza subit un drame humanitaire innommable, il faut s’unir pour faire cesser ce bain de sang … ».
      [The Palestinian people of Gaza are suffering an appalling humanitarian crisis, we must unite to stop this bloodbath].
      So I’m not surprised May continues to ignore Palestinian suffering, but am pleased that a political party with a national presence in Canada has broached the subject and opted for BDS.

  10. Marnie
    Marnie on August 10, 2016, 3:18 am

    Oh Canada – Go Canada!!

  11. Kay24
    Kay24 on August 12, 2016, 9:28 pm

    So May will be deciding whether to quit or not. It seems she has some loyalty to Israel.

    • eljay
      eljay on August 12, 2016, 9:53 pm

      || Kay24: So May will be deciding whether to quit or not. It seems she has some loyalty to Israel. … ||

      My impression is that she can’t stomach the thought of having her name, reputation and life thoroughly ruined by hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists. Her reluctance is understandable, IMO.

  12. Patrick
    Patrick on August 13, 2016, 8:12 pm

    I have some sympathy for her as well, as this is not her issue at all. I live in Elizabeth May’s riding and voted for her twice. Her central issue is climate change, and in her newsletter which came out last week – it was all about dealing with climate change – not a word about I/P.

  13. K Renner
    K Renner on August 14, 2016, 7:28 am

    Hilariously, I wonder whether or not the people who’re so upset about the BDS movement– peaceful Palestinian resistance, essentially– are as up in arms about the (actual) demonization and dehumanization of the Iranian people implicit and explicit in the rhetoric of those who seek to re-instate “boycott of Iran”?

    Actual demonization and dehumanization; not a matter of stating facts RE: the BDS movement. In this case, the people who seek to isolate Iran tend to lie about a people far more politically diverse then the Jewish and Zionist Israelis, lie and pretend that Iran is full of people who adhere to Khomeinist Islamism and nothing but.

    Anyone who actually pays attention to Iran knows differently. But the demonizers of the BDS movement who scream for “crippling sanctions” on Iran are nothing if they’re not evil, bigoted hypocrites of the very worst order. A shame on the people they claim to represent across the board, to say the least.

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