Jewish groups condemn new Green BDS resolution
Despite Federal Green Leader Elizabeth May’s vocal opposition to the passing of a resolution that supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel at the party’s convention last summer, the text of a new policy on Israel and Palestine – which lists May as one of its sponsors – is being criticized by Jewish leaders as “divisive,” “discriminatory” and “anti-semitic.”
In August, the Green party passed a resolution in Ottawa in support of the “Palestinian self-determination and the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions.”
Although the policy passed with a majority, but not by consensus, it still became party policy. May considered stepping down as leader as a result, saying she was “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.”
May ultimately announced she would stay on as leader, partly because the party’s executive council agreed to call a special meeting to give members the opportunity to revisit the BDS resolution.
Earlier this month, the party posted a new policy on its website that will come before a special general meeting scheduled for Dec 3-4. If it passes by consensus, it will replace the August policy.
The new “Policy on Israel and Palestine,” states, among other things, that the “Palestinian people are among the indigenous people of the geographic region now designated as Israel and the [occupied Palestinian territory],” and it supports “only non-violent responses to violence and oppression, including economic measures such as government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment, economic sanctions and arms embargoes.”
It calls for a ban on products produced “wholly or partly within or by illegal Israeli settlements, or by Israeli businesses directly benefiting from the illegal occupation,” and it calls on the government to repeal the House of Commons resolution that condemned the BDS movement.
In a statement, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said the new resolution is “anti-israel and suggests that Palestinians have no role or responsibility in advancing the peace process.”
CIJA chair David Cape, said he is “appalled that the Green party’s leadership would propose such a divisive policy that is hostile toward Israelis and riddled with egregious historic distortions. Among many examples, perhaps most outrageous is the suggestion that the Jewish People have no ancestral or indigenous roots in Israel.”
Cape also spoke to a “reckless flip-flop by May, given her previous unequivocal statements against boycotts.”
B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said “it’s unfortunate that after rightly voicing her opposition to the BDS movement, Elizabeth May is now bowing to pressure from extremist elements within her party and targeting the Jewish state with this discriminatory and anti-semitic motion.
Requests for an interview with May went unanswered, but Green party federal council president Ken Melamed said the new policy, which he expects will gain consensus, in part because it’s backed by May, is a “compromise resolution” compared to the one that passed in August.
“It reconfirms the existing policy, which spoke to a non-violent, peaceful two-state solution, recognition of both states, but I think for me, the big difference is that the previous policy… speaks to diplomatic approaches to resolving the conflict. This new policy seems to suggest that diplomatic measures have not been successful. The situation has not improved, and it moves into economic measures while maintaining a deep commitment to non-violent solutions,” Melamed said.
“It clearly acknowledges Israel’s right to statehood. It clearly acknowledges that both parties have to be part of the solution. It condemns anti-semitism, it condemns Islamophobia, and an attempt has been made to be two-sided. We support both sides in trying to find a peaceful resolution.”
Independent Jewish Voices Canada spokesperson Tyler Levitan said in a statement that the pro-bds group is “delighted” with the Green party’s stance on the Israeli-palestinian conflict.