Academics to NDP: Wake up

The putative party of social justice, Canada’s NDP has sadly found itself way behind the curve on the issue of Middle East peace. Former leader Tom Mulcair was hopeless on the issue  and the present PM seems terrified of alienating any member of the Jewish community as if that community were all on board totally supporting occupation.



At the present moment only Nicky Ashton of the leadership candidates has shown any courage on confronting the obvious: Israel can not be both a Jewish state and a democracy. Canada used to be a “Christian” country; today you would be laughed out if you made that claim. The following analysis from members of the academic community is both cogent and to the point.

To the membership and leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada,



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We send you this letter at a time that necessitates strong principle and action. For 50 years, the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza have been subjected to a military occupation imposed upon them by the State of Israel. This system of subjugation draws itself across ethnic and racial lines, and dominates every aspect of Palestinian life. We have been told from the very start that Israel’s occupation is temporary, and yet for half a century now, it is only entrenching itself further.


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The Palestinian people are victims to decades of brutal mistreatment by the State of Israel.
In the West Bank, Israel’s illegal settlements continue expanding on top of Palestinian lands with the sponsorship and protection of the Israeli government. The manner by which these settlements expand strips Palestinian families of their private properties, pushes them into small pockets of territory and shatters the prospect of a viable Palestinian state.

To secure the settlements from opposition, the Israeli military commits grave human and civil rights violations against Palestinians. These violations are well documented, by both international human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Israeli ones like B’Tselem. The violations are too numerous to exhaustively list but among their most serious is the dual legal system that enforces punitive military law on Palestinians and lenient civilian law on Israeli settlers. It is because of this legal system’s character of racial discrimination that over 6,300 Palestinian political prisoners, many of whom are held without charge or trial, sit in cells whose squalid conditions they protest through hunger strikes.
The roughly two million Palestinians living in the tiny Gaza Strip find themselves in a different situation that is no less repressive. For over a decade they have been held captives to a total military blockade put in place mostly by the Israeli government, with support from the Egyptian government, in an act of collective punishment strictly prohibited by international law. This was in conjunction with several Israeli military attacks in the strip that killed thousands of Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians. Since the beginning of the blockade, few Palestinians have been able to leave, and limited supplies have been allowed to enter. Indeed, the humanitarian conditions that arise from this blockade are so dire that the United Nations has warned Gaza will become uninhabitable by 2020.
Let the story of the NDP on Palestine be one that we all can praise.
Of course, the Israeli occupation, whose 50th anniversary we mark this month, began a mere 19 years after another Palestinian trauma, namely, the forced removal from Israel’s territory of over 750,000 Palestinians who would have otherwise become Israeli citizens. Not only were they barred from ever returning to their homes precisely because they were Palestinians, but their property was also confiscated, and no compensation was ever given. To this day, 69 years later, they remain in a state of limbo and dispossession, awaiting return.
Acknowledging this reality does not make one biased or one-sided, and most certainly not anti-Semitic. It is simply a statement of truth and fact: the Palestinian people are victims to decades of brutal mistreatment by the State of Israel. And while there is no doubt that at times innocent Israeli lives have been lost at the hands of Palestinians, and that their humanity must never be belittled or negated, we insist that the solution to Israeli fears is identical to that of Palestinian suffering: alleviating the systemic injustices Palestinians face. First and foremost, this means an end to the ongoing military occupation.

It is in this spirit that we, the undersigned, send this letter. We send it in the hope of energizing a stagnant conversation within your circles on this issue, and to appeal to your unique history of progressive leadership. We are indeed at a watershed moment that will be looked back upon and scrutinized for stories of principled conviction. Let the story of the NDP on Palestine be one that we all can praise.
With that intent, we propose that the New Democratic Party of Canada commit to the following, both in opposition and in government:


1. condemning Israeli settlements as a violation of international law and as an impediment to a just resolution;
2. calling upon the State of Israel to halt any further settlement construction, respect the political and civil rights of its Palestinian citizens, pursue a fair solution to the plight of Palestinian refugees, lift its blockade on Gaza and end its military occupation of the Palestinian Territories;
3. calling upon legitimate representatives of the State of Israel and the Palestinian people to negotiate in good faith a just resolution that respects the spirit and intentions of UNGA Resolution 194 and UNSC Resolution 242;
4. pursuing and supporting the use of diplomatic and economic means to exert pressure on the State of Israel in such a manner as to achieve a just resolution. This includes:
• using Canada’s stature and position in the international community to push for meaningful progress on the topic of Israel and Palestine
• renegotiating the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement in such a manner as to divert from the Canadian market any product made in Israeli settlements
• suspending security trade and cooperation between Canada and Israel indefinitely and until the Gaza siege is lifted, the occupation ends and a just peace is achieved
• revoking the tax-exempt status of any organization operating within Canada that is known to financially support or benefit from Israel’s military occupation
• requesting that the International Criminal Court give greater attention to the situation in Israel and Palestine
• recognizing the State of Palestine
Do not allow arguments of electoral convenience to distract you. The premise upon which these arguments are built does not apply in this case. Simply, we contend that the proposals we set forth are ones that a majority of Canadians can get behind.

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None of us must indulge seriously those who pit the potential of alleviating suffering and injustice against the convenience of doing so.
In fact, support for Palestinian rights is already the expressed policy of trade unions like the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux and the Canadian Labour Congress; student groups like the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario; and faith-based institutions like the United Church of Canada. But perhaps infinitely more important than any endorsement is this fundamental moral tenet: none of us must indulge seriously those who pit the potential of alleviating suffering and injustice against the convenience of doing so. For the sake of Palestinians, we hope you will share this view.

Greg Albo, Judith Haiven, Michael Keefer, Janet Conway and 40 others


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    What a joke! The NDP is missing in action on many levels! The Israel/Palestinian file had long been put on the back burner.

    Meanwhile look at Nikki Ashton at the UN behaving like her lord and master wrecking havoc with Palestine almost like it’s Netanyahu writing her script.

    You gotta wonder how much more democracy there is left in this global tank of human values embracing justice and peace. Oh yeah these are long held biblical truths. So where’s all the bible thumping evangelicals on this? That’s right! Committed to leaving the separation of church and state exactly where it is.

    Mike Pence! Biggest hypocrite going. I guess with bozos like Trump and Pence Americans can rest assured of the success of their great empire!

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