At its national convention in Ottawa this past week, the left-wing New Democratic Party of Canada adopted a balanced position on Israel’s protracted conflict with the Palestinians. Fears had been circulating that hotheads might hijack the proceedings and cajole the NDP to pass a one-sided resolution calling for the Palestinians’ “right of return.” But thanks to Jagmeet Singh’s pragmatic leadership, common sense prevailed.
The NDP passed a sensible resolution that recognizes the national rights of both Israel and the Palestinians within the framework of a two-state solution — which still remains the only realistic and practical method of resolving their long-running dispute. The NDP has steadfastly hewed to this policy, having recognized the need to stay within the international consensus on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its previous leaders — Tommy Douglas, David Lewis, Ed Broadbent, Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDonough, Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair — never deviated from this stance.
Hardliners within the NDP caucus, however, pressed for a pro-Palestinian approach, claiming that the two-state solution is dead, and that the only alternative to it is a secular binational state. In accordance with this proposal, they endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, of which the “right of return” is an integral component. If such a resolution had been adopted, it would have represented a major shift in the wrong direction for the NDP.
As everyone knows, the “right of return,” supported by the most radical factions of the Palestinian national movement, would be a demographic death knell for Israel, a Jewish democratic state. In time, the higher Arab birthrate would transform Israel into a de facto Palestinian state. By stealth, the Palestinians would wipe Israel off the map, achieving by non-violent means what they have failed to achieve by feat of arms or political campaigns.
If Palestinian refugees were allowed to return to Israel, and if Israel remained a Jewish state with an Arab majority clamoring for drastic change, the end result would be catastrophic — civil war accompanied by bloodshed. Israel would descent into chaos, much like Lebanon from 1975 to 1990 and Syria since 2011.
Contrary to the misguided and ill-informed view of some observers, the vast majority of Jewish Israelis are clearly and dearly attached to the concept of a Jewish state, and are unequivocally opposed to replacing Israel with a binational state. This is a fact, not an opinion.
Israeli Jews, like Palestinian Muslims and Christians, are morally and historically entitled to self-determination within a defined and internationally recognized territory.
The pro-Palestinian NDPers who sought to foist a one-state solution on the party obviously did not care that it would inevitably lead to Israel’s demise and might well spark intercommunal violence in that new entity one day.
Fortunately, Jagmeet Singh was not on the same page as them.
As he said in a statement prior to the NDP’s convention, “My position on Israel and Palestine maintains the party’s longstanding desire to see a peaceful resolution (of the Arab-Israeli imbroglio) through the establishment of a two-state solution. The NDP has and will continue to acknowledge the Holocaust and the history of violence directed at the Jewish people … while at the same time being staunch in our defence of Palestinian human rights, as well as international law.”
In this spirit, the NDP convention rejected the hardliner’s pie-in-the-sky proposal and presided over the passage of a wide-ranging resolution that fair-minded people can support.