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February 16, 2018 5:31 pm

Israel Boycotters Face ‘Massive Setback’ at NDP Convention, But Concerns Persist

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Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. Photo: NDP.

Canada’s third-largest political party will not be voting on a resolution that has been criticized for sanctioning economic warfare against Israel at its national convention in Ottawa this weekend.

Members of the New Democratic Party (NDP) voted against re-prioritizing the “Palestine Resolution” on Friday morning, meaning it is “extremely unlikely to be voted on by the general membership,” the Jewish civil rights group B’nai Brith Canada said.

The resolution includes a number of demands targeting Israel — including an end to the “occupation and settlement program,” as well as the blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip — but makes no mention of any Israeli concerns that spurred these policies, such as the sustained threat of Palestinian terrorism.

The measure endorses “banning settlement products from Canadian markets, and using other forms of diplomatic and economic pressure to end the occupation.”

It also urges the NDP to oppose “parliamentary efforts to undermine non-violent movements seeking a just resolution,” an apparent reference to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, whose leaders have publicly advocated against the Jewish state’s continued existence.

Critics have pointed out that the resolution aims to remove language supportive of the two-state solution from NDP’s policy platform, and instead calls for an agreement grounded in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which supports the “right of return” of first-generation Palestinian refugees and their approximately five million descendants to Israel.

B’nai Brith Canada launched a mobilization effort aimed at NDP leadership and riding associations prior to the vote, which it said prompted at least 5,000 people to contact the party since Wednesday.

While B’nai Brith Canada called Friday’s vote “a massive setback for Canada’s anti-Israel camp,” it expressed concern about other resolutions that may be debated by NDP this weekend.

These include items “that purport to condemn the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, urge Canada to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, and advocate for a ban on goods produced by Israelis east of the Green Line,” Aidan Fishman, interim national director of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights, told The Algemeiner.

He advised “concerned Canadians to continue to contact NDP leadership on these issues, and for NDP members to continue their activism within the party.”

The group Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) — which supports the BDS campaign and endorsed the “Palestine Resolution” — blamed the party “establishment” for the failed vote to reprioritize the resolution and allow it to advance to the convention floor.

“Despite obtaining the official support of 26 riding associations in six provinces — more than any other resolution — the Palestine Resolution was ranked 37th out of 45 foreign policy resolutions by the Party’s undemocratic prioritization committee,” IJV said in a statement. “When the prioritization was challenged at a re-prioritization session on Friday morning, the resolution was voted down by just eleven votes (200-189).”

“The fervor around this resolution shows the clear split between the party’s grassroots — especially its younger members — and the party establishment,” said IJV spokesperson Geneviève Nevin.

The Young New Democrats — the wing for NDP members aged 25 and under — voted unanimously to adopt the “Palestine Resolution” on Thursday.

Yet the measure and other resolutions focused on Israel were denounced by mainstream Jewish Canadian groups, including the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, which represents nearly 900 Jewish congregations.

“These resolutions risk alienating many progressive Jewish Canadians — who have a long history of being active in the NDP, the labour movement and social justice causes — from the NDP,” the Council warned on Wednesday. “The vast majority of Jewish Canadians, while diverse in their politics and often critical of particular Israeli policies, feel that a connection to Israel and Israelis is a core part of their identity. Rejecting the basic rights of Israelis means rejecting Jewish Canadians.”

The advocacy group Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) — which has similarly spoken out against the controversial proposals — also condemned on Friday reports that Tamika Mallory, an American activist best-known for co-organizing the Women’s March, will be a speaker at the NDP convention.

As Petra Marquardt-Bigman documented in The Algemeiner, Mallory helped plan the “Justice or Else” rally hosted in 2015 by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has blamed the 9/11 attacks and trans-Atlantic slave trade on “the Satanic Jews that control everything.” She has praised Farrakhan as “the GOAT [Greatest of All Time]” on social media and has been photographed holding his hand.

An NDP spokesperson said Mallory was invited to speak to party members because “she is one of the architects of a progressive movement that has mobilized millions of people and that has made women’s voices heard, not only in the US, but worldwide.”

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