Some of Canada’s pro-Israel lobby groups are panicked by resolutions that will be considered by the Green Party of Canada (GPC) at its annual convention in August. They have launched a fierce attack on its leader Elizabeth May. What are they so upset about? Read more.
Two of Canada’s most visible pro-Israel lobby groups have gone into overdrive to try to head off two Green Party resolutions critical of Israel.
The resolutions have been prepared by party activists and will be considered at the Green Party annual convention. One resolution supports a boycott of Israel (BDS) over its human rights violations. The other calls on the Government of Canada to remove the charity status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada, an organization which collects money in Canada for projects in Israel.
In panic mode, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has asked its supporters to send emails to the Green Party protesting the motion calling for a lifting of the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada, which it characterizes as “one of the world’s most successful environmental charities”.
However, the resolution on the JNF submitted to the Green Party convention argues that that while the JNF presents itself to the world as a green environmental organization, one of its main activities has been to use environmental projects to cover up evidence of destroyed Palestinian villages. In addition, it points out that the JNF is highly discriminatory, holding land in trust for Jews but not for the non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
The broadside from CIJA was aggressively echoed by another pro-Israel organization – Bnai Brith – which attacked the Green Party accusing its leader Elizabeth May of allowing Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) to “dictate” GPC foreign policy.
In a mass email entitled “Discredited IJV dictating Green Party Foreign policy”, Bnai Brith claims “The Green Party’s entire foreign policy platform has been dictated by an organization that promotes Holocaust denial and Khomeinist rhetoric,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada.
In support of this allegation he claimed that “The anti-JNF motion was submitted by Corey Levine, an IJV Steering Committee member from British Columbia (…) explicitly relying upon so-called research conducted by IJV.”
However, according to Tyler Levitan, Campaigns coordinator for IJV Canada, Bnai Brith’s allegations have no substance.
“This is entirely a Green Party matter, and IJV has played absolutely no role in either promoting the JNF or the BDS resolutions submitted to the Green Party convention. We do, of course, support these initiatives, however.”
Nonetheless, the CIJA/Bnai Brith campaigns seem to have been effective in mobilizing its base. According to a subsequent email sent out by Elizabeth May, she has received “thousands” of complaints from the Jewish community.
In the email, May seems defensive, arguing that she has no control over the resolutions coming to the convention. May also reiterates GPC policy opposing BDS and indicates that she personally finds the resolution against the JNF “problematic”.
Is this a victory or a defeat for the Israel lobby?
Will the two resolutions be adopted by the Green Party in August? Insiders now say that unless there is an equally significant pressure coming from the GPC base in support of the two motions, they will likely not succeed in their current format. Some unhappy GPC members are already preparing for a debate on the floor of the convention. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is encouraging its supporters who are members of the Green Party to support the resolutions.
Intriguingly, Elizabeth May has invited the JNF to attend the GPC convention to defend itself. That will be interesting, especially if she also gives equal time to one of the JNF critics. In that case, hundreds of GPC members will hear serious arguments over JNF and BDS for the first time.
We won’t know until August what happens. But even if both resolutions are defeated (or defanged), this whole episode is a huge defeat and a warning sign for the Israel lobby which for years has avoided any public scrutiny of the JNF.
It would appear that Canada’s uncritical support for the JNF – and for Israel – is being challenged by ever widening circles in Canada.
Comment? Do you agree that even if the Israel lobby succeeds in derailing the motion this time, the episode represents a setback? Did May handle this well? All comments welcome.
Thanks for this post Peter. Do you or anyone know if the Green Party of Canada is aware of the environmental degradation that is being caused for example by Israel’s sucking water out of the Jordan river and related water shortages. Not to mention that the forests of trees the JNF is planting are not indigenous to the region. Naomi Klein has spoken out on this. Perhaps she needs to talk to Elizabeth May and GPC delegates.
Thanks, Peter. The fact that they’re considering it makes me want to join the Greens.
peter : thanks for the good summary of the green party resolution “discussion”. The original resolution had Elizabeth May as one of its sponsors and she now seems to be resiling from that .. This is not the first time ,unfortunately, that Ms. May has backtracked from taking a critical position on Israel/Palestine . Remember a while ago after she was invited to speak at a CJPME meeting , she was pressured by the Lobby to make pro Israel statements and the CJPME was forced to uninvited her. When you go after the JNF , as MS. May is discovering , you call into question the fundamental racism of the Israel project and she does not appear to be prepared to do that . Of course from a vulgar electoral standpoint , the bell has been rung , it is in her electoral interest to support the anti JNF resolution as a wedge against the NDP, she is not going to get the Zionist vote.
I’m a not-very-active member of the Green Party and receive all emails from Elizabeth and her assistants. In response to her recent Parliamentary Week in Review email, in which she listed her more than two dozen activities, I replied by adding one more to her list:
“How about Elizabeth May’s parliamentary resolution calling for the end of the Israel occupation of Palestine? The 50th anniversary of the occupation will be in June 2017.”
That was on June 10. So far no response — not that I expected one.
thank you for raising this, please pursue…i expect pressure from bds will be momentous
Elizabeth May refused, early this year, to sponsor an e-petition Canada in support of BDS. Today, NDP Kennedy Steward, MP has also refused to sponsor this e-petition in support of BDS If referendum is utra-viros to the constitution of Canada, any MP with integrity could call for a non-binding plebiscite to find out where, the not just what Green or Orange parties believe, but what the majority of Canadians think about it.
I think that if a referendum were held in Canada today on BDS, only a very small minority of Canadians would support it.
Why would they?: Few have heard of it, and most of them have been told that it is hateful and anti-Semitic. So of course they would not favour it. But when they hear serious discussions about it, (at the GPC convention, for example) and get more informaton, a lot of them will change their minds.
I’m glad the Green Party is considering this question. It is hard to believe that anyone can support the treatment of Palestinians and their land, let alone our government. Hope that the party can withstand the backlash and move forward.
this link to the attack of the uss liberty by israel is informative in many ways…one of which is that president johnson measured the mood of the government of israel by the way the civil rights movement was going…as it is stated the jews of america were at the forefront of the movement…therefore apart from the slaughter of palestinians at the hands of the idf may would be wise to refuse votes from canadian jews if it means allowing the slaughter to continue…and that an undue influence by canadian jews to protect israeli war crimes will not be tolerated by the greens…
I am aware of the Israeli attack on the Liberty of course.
However, I am surprised and very disappointed at your suggestion that Elizabeth May should somehow limit the rights of Canadian Jews to vote at the GPC. Your suggestion is undemocratic and anti-Semitic. I reject it completely.
I believe in democracy. That means equality for everyone.Canadian Jews have every right to express their views on this topic. I know that many Canadian Jews defend Israel uncritically. But I also know many who have a different opinion.
Reblogged this on QCpal.
I support the Green Party AND the BDS movement. I will withdraw my support for the Green Party unless the party resolves to oppose Israeli apartheid, end illegal settlements and end human rights abuses of Palestinian, particularly children and accept a 2 state solution and the 1967 borders. I am not an anti Semite and resent being characterised as one. The BDS movement is the only external nonviolent movement in support of Palestine. We want people to use their consumer’s rights not to purchase goods or services that benefit the Israeli regime and urge artists, entertainers and academics not to go to Israel under any circumstances. Unless the Green Party complies and joins the rest of the progressive parties around the globe it is just another hypocritical agent of Netanyahu’s theocratic fascism
Hey Frank thanks for your comment.
A couple of clarifications might be useful.
Elizabeth May and the GPC do support a 2 state solution. However, she says she does NOT support BDS.
BDS does not advocate for either a 2 state or a 1 state solution.
It has 3 specific demands (ending the occupation, equality inside Israel and the right of return for the refugees).
But its hard to see how BDS’s democratic demands, particularly demands 2 and 3 can be compatible with a 2 state solution. If the refugees get the right to return (demand 3) and there is equality inside Israel (demand 2) then Israel will no longer be a Jewish state.
I don’t care whether the answer is 1, 2 or 3 states. I do care about equality and democracy.
Please feel free to respond if you want to do so. P
Peter, I beg to differ. The entire BDS programme is compatible with the 2-state solution, contra Zionist propaganda. BDS primarily calls for, not “demands,” that Israel “meets its obligations under international law by” three particular actions. None of these latter threaten Israel’s existence, perhaps just it’s narrow Zionist self-understanding.
If the state is both Jewish and democratic as 1992 Knesset legislation claims it is, the onus is on Israel to live up to that within the bounds of international law, and even explain what it means to be “Jewish” as a state without practicing apartheid. It is not up to Palestinians in the camps to continue to pay the price of this failure.
No better example needs to found than Canada, which turned a corner from our colonialist past with the TRC and the apologies, and hopefully coming years of healing and restoration of the dignity of aboriginal peoples.
Think that BDS demands can be made compatible with the conventional “two state” solution advocated internationally and supported by Canada -provided Palestine is brought into existence as an equal sovereign state along side Israel thereby ending the occupation, ensuring minority rights in both Jewish Israel and Arab Palestine and with the capacity of Palestine to absorb returning refugees or providing appropriate compensation just as Israel has absorbed Jews internationally. Canadian Pro Israel orgs would do well therefore to suggest and lobby for viable multifaceted policy alternatives to BDS and losing of tax status of JNF rather than simply attacking the proponents of these measures, be they pro Palestinian activists, political parties or Jewish peace orgs. Undoubtedly, an amalgam of measures and international UN action will be needed to achieve a solution that will produce freedom justice and democracy for all living in Israel and Palestine ideally before the 50th anniversary of 1967 six day war
Pro Israelis don’t agree with BDS’s 3 goals. While which particular goals the disagree with depends on the specifics they don’t want the same ends. That’s not to say they don’t often want equality and dignity but they don’t want the specific policies that BDS offers.
For example they often don’t agree that the 1949 armistice lines that were rejected by all sides should become the permanent border not taking into account the massive population migrations that have happened in the last 7 decades. For most countries (I should mention the USA and Canada being a perfect example) borders are not so arbitrary a fashion.
Another example is disagreement that refugee status is inheritable generation after generation after generation. Almost all pro-Israel supporters believe the Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese… of Palestinian ethnicity should be permanently normalized in the country of their (and often their parent’s and grandparent’s birth).
So why would you expect Pro-Israeli Canadians to back policies they simply don’t agree with at all?
I support this comment as I want to see a Palestinian state wiith borders defined for both countries to be respected. I understand the fear of Israel of being obliterated by nearby countries butt that is a different issue. Human rights must be protected for all peoples.
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