The Israel/Palestine issue has become an issue in the Canadian federal election, despite the wishes of the NDP, argues Yves Engler. See my video interview.
Yves Engler is a Montreal-based writer and researcher. He is the author “The truth may hurt”, a critical reassessment of the peacekeeping legacy of Lester Pearson. He is also the author of “Canada/Israel: Building Apartheid”, a severe evaluation of Canada’s historical relationship with Israel.
According to Engler, Harper’s Conservatives intentionally raised the Israel issue just before the election by announcing the signing of an upgrade to our free trade agreement with Israel. This is something that has very little economic significance, according to Engler, but is dear to some important elements of Harper’s base.
The opposition parties would like to avoid debating foreign policy issues at all, feeling that Harper is more exposed on domestic issues. As a result, neither one commented on the trade agreement, despite the fact that the terms of the agreement include allowing goods from what Canada OFFICIALLY calls “occupied territory” to enter tariff free into the country.
For the NDP in particular, however, this is a tricky issue. A significant part of the party’s base, including many of its activist supporters, feels strongly about the issue of human rights for Palestinians. Despite its attempts to keep Israel/Palestine in the background, the NDP has seen the issue pop up unexpectedly as several candidates have been outspoken in their criticisms of Israel.
Engler analyses why the Conservatives and the NDP are doing what they do.
Engler has made a special effort to understand the evolution of the relationship between Harpers Conservatives (formerly rather anti-Semitic, or at least unfriendly to Jews) to its current stand. For more on this, see Engler’s longer article in the Huffington Post, in which he explains “How Harper Won the Jewish Vote”.