Jewish groups con­demn new Green BDS res­o­lu­tion

The Canadian Jewish News (Toronto) - - News - SHERI SHEFA sshefa@thecjn.ca

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.”

Fol­low­ing a fam­ily va­ca­tion, 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 in Cal­gary. If it passes by con­sen­sus, it will re­place the pol­icy that passed in Au­gust.

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 Cana­dian gov­ern­ment to re­peal the House of Com­mons res­o­lu­tion that con­demned the BDS move­ment last Fe­bru­ary.

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,” adding that the pol­icy has “shut its doors to main­stream Jewish Cana­di­ans and sig­nalled to all vot­ers that it’s not ready for the se­ri­ous busi­ness of pol­i­cy­mak­ing.”

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.

“Ms. May pre­vi­ously stated that she ‘en­tirely op­posed’ a more mod­er­ate ver­sion of the Green party’s mo­tion to sup­port BDS, a view she claimed the ma­jor­ity of her party also held. How can she now jus­tify not only the Green Party’s strength­en­ing of this res­o­lu­tion, but her vo­cal sup­port of it?”

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 De­cem­ber in Cal­gary, 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.

He said when it comes to crit­ics who feel that the new text is one-sided against Is­rael, Me­lamed said oth­ers will in­ter­pret it dif­fer­ently.

“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.”

While Me­lamed said the new res­o­lu­tion ex­presses sup­port for boy­cotts, di­vest­ment, sanc­tions and arms em­bar­goes, its drafters were care­ful not to specif­i­cally en­dorse the in­ter­na­tional BDS move­ment.

“I think that was one of El­iz­a­beth’s main stick­ing points. She was un­com­fort­able with that, and it tar­nished, in a way, the pre­vi­ous res­o­lu­tion. It was a de­lib­er­ate and care­ful re­draft­ing to elim­i­nate a di­rect ref­er­ence to the move­ment.”

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.

“This pro­posed res­o­lu­tion is in keep­ing with the Green party’s de­clared val­ues and re­flects the val­ues of Cana­di­ans who are sym­pa­thetic to the plight of op­pressed peo­ples, in­clud­ing the Pales­tini­ans. If this res­o­lu­tion passes, it will serve as an ex­am­ple for other par­ties to em­u­late.”

Cape said CIJA is en­cour­aged by Green party mem­bers who have spo­ken out and voted against the pre­vi­ous res­o­lu­tion.

“We will con­tinue work­ing with our al­lies within the [Green party] in the hope that they will be suc­cess­ful in re­vers­ing this shame­ful res­o­lu­tion.”

Ken Me­lamed

El­iz­a­beth May

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