Fred Maroun
Fred Maroun

Shameless Anti-Semitism on the Canadian Left

The orange maple leaf is used as a symbol of the Canada’s NDP (credit: Wikimedia Commons).

Canada’s New Democratic Party, Canada’s main left-wing party, had a policy convention this past weekend, and the extent of its anti-Semitism problem was on full display.

Resolutions 04–08–20 and 04-48-20 (see appendix), which condemn the “genocide of the Uyghur people” (China’s Muslims) and the “persecution of the Uyghur people” were endorsed by only one local constituency association each, whereas anti-Israel resolutions 04–09–20, 04–10–20, 04–11–20, 04–29–20, 04–30–20, and 04–34–20 received the support of several dozen local constituency associations.

I was hoping to be wrong on this, but the way it looked to me at first glance was that the genocide of Muslims disturbs NDP members far less than the existence of Israel. A closer look at the resolutions not only confirmed this first impression but intensified it.

The NDP resolutions denounce Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, but nowhere is there a recognition of the other side of the equation. While Israel does indeed occupy the West Bank and while the legitimacy of the settlements is questionable, Jews have a long history on that land, and all Jews who lived there were expelled by the Arabs in the years leading up to and including the Israel/Arab war of 1947/1948 during which several Arab armies attempted to destroy the new Jewish state. A state whose existence was recognized by UN Resolution 181 (1947).

Three of the NDP resolutions demand that Israel end its blockade of Gaza (one of the resolutions incorrectly calls the blockade a “siege”), but nowhere is there a recognition of the many terrorist attacks on Israel from Gaza, a recognition that the blockade exists only because of those attacks, or a recognition that Israel supplies Gaza with truckloads of goods daily to ensure its survival.

Three of the anti-Israel resolutions pretend to denounce antisemitism, but they do so only in order to demand that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism be scaled back so that fewer people are identified as antisemitic. It seems that NDP members believe that they understand antisemitism better than Holocaust scholars do. No NDP resolution denounces today’s most vicious antisemitic groups, namely the Iranian regime and the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, but one resolution (04–25–20) demands the “resumption of diplomatic ties with Iran”, likely the most antisemitic and Holocaust-denying regime on earth today.

Of the 48 NDP resolutions on international politics, 6 are about Israel. No resolution condemns Russia (on the contrary, resolution 04–47–20 demands that Canada leave NATO and resolution 04–42–20 demands the elimination of Canada’s Armed Forces) or almost any of the dozens of countries that abuse human rights far more than Israel does.

The NDP members’ obsession with demonizing Israel and their inability to see any fault on the other side of the conflict is hard to understand. Are they unable to read history books? Are they unable to read the news, even from left-wing Israeli publications such as Haaretz? Considering that NDP members appear incapable of seeing faults in the Israel-Arab conflict except on the part of the Jewish state, and considering that far from denouncing anti-Semitism, they instead want to weaken the definition of anti-Semitism, it is very hard to avoid the unescapable conclusion that NDP members have a deep anti-Semitism problem.

The resolutions repeatedly make the point that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. While I agree that not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic (especially that I have been unjustly accused on occasion of being anti-Semitic for criticizing Israel), the resolutions sabotage their own point by criticizing Israel in a way that is totally unbalanced and unfair towards Israel, and therefore in a way that is blatantly anti-Semitic.

I would welcome criticism of Israel if it was fair and balanced because the Israeli government deserves criticism. Even though its military presence in the West Bank is legitimate, some of its policies seem designed to prevent rather than facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The criticism, however, must be made while recognizing that the Arab world has been making peace impossible for almost 73 years, that the Arab world has ethnically cleansed almost every Jewish person from their lands, and that the Palestinian representatives have rejected every attempt to resolve the conflict while continuing incitement and terrorism.

This is by no means a one-sided conflict. Criticism of Israel must be made within the context of reality, not in the NDP’s fantasy world where Israel is guilty of everything while its enemies are innocent victims who have never done anything wrong.

To be fair, these resolutions are not official party policies. The official party policy on Israel states, “Working with partners for peace in Israel and Palestine, respecting UN resolutions and international law, supporting peaceful co-existence in viable, independent states agreed-upon borders, an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and an end to violence targeting civilians”.

This official statement is certainly far less nauseating than the resolutions, but it still refuses to recognize Palestinian terrorism, preferring instead to use the ambiguous phrase “violence targeting civilians”. If the NDP can name the Israeli occupation, why can’t they name Palestinian terrorism?

While the more anti-Semitic resolutions never become party policy, they still demonstrate what the party members really think. The reality is that party members ARE the party. They select party executives, including the leader, and they select the NDP candidates to parliament. Even if the official policy of the party towards Israel is somewhat sanitized, the truth about the party’s bigoted attitude towards Israel cannot be hidden and cannot be ignored.

I am proud to be left-wing, but what I am seeing from NDP members is not left-wing. One of the core values on the left is support for human rights, including the human rights of Muslims and Jews, but what I see from NDP members is lukewarm condemnation of a genocide of Muslims, and absolutely no condemnation of anti-Semitism. Instead, the party’s members shamelessly support a one-sided and even anti-Semitic assessment of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

I was once a very active member of the NDP. I was even president of the Ottawa-West local association. I would love to vote again for a left-wing party. I support many left-wing policies. A few years ago, I was excited about the leadership of Thomas Mulcair who took a reasonable position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but I cannot in good conscience support a party that is blatantly anti-Semitic.

The NDP needs to look at itself in the mirror and reflect on its anti-Semitism, just about as much as the U.S. Republican Party needs to look at itself in the mirror and reflect on its support for the fascist demagogue Donald Trump, though as far as I can tell, the NDP is about as likely to reach that self-awareness as the Republican Party is.

APPENDIX

The following are some of the NDP resolutions on international politics at the 2021 NDP policy convention. The resolutions can also be found at Resolutions Section 4.

04–08–20

GENOCIDE OF THE UYGHUR PEOPLE

Sponsored by: Windsor-Tecumseh

WHEREAS Canada is a signatory to the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and Canadians should not remain silent in the face of the genocide of the Uyghur people occurring in China.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

New Democrats demand that Canada publicly condemn China’s ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people, that Canada address this issue in Parliament and at the United Nations, that Canada demand the closure of the concentration camps, that Canada develop an asylum program to bring the Uyghur people to Canada, and that Canada sanction any corporation with links to forced labour by Uyghur people.

04–09–20

RECOGNIZE THE STATE OF PALESTINE

Sponsored by: Gatineau NDP

WHEREAS there is a need for greater efforts by Canada to advance the cause of a just two state solution in the Middle East with principled action and measures to resist the ongoing entrenchment of the status quo;

AND WHEREAS recognition of Palestine statehood is long overdue;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

The New Democratic Party call for Canada to: Call upon Israel to end its occupation and settlement program, lift the Gaza blockade, recognize its Arab-Palestinian citizens’ right to full equality, and address refugee claims fairly; Ensure all relevant government agencies require accurate identification of settlement products imported and marketed in Canada as products of occupied territories in accordance with UNSC 2334, s. 5; and Recognize the State of Palestine and upgrade the status of the Palestinian General Delegation in Ottawa to the General Delegation of Palestine, with full immunities.

04–10–20

JUSTICE AND PEACE IN ISRAEL-PALESTINE

Sponsored by: Cumberland-Colchester EDA • Regina–Qu’Appelle Federal NDP Riding Association • Huron Bruce NDP Louis-Hébert Durham Region Labour Council Orléans EDA • London North Centre • NDP Milton Riding Association • Ottawa West-Nepean • Ottawa South • Brantford Brant NDP EDA • Saint Boniface–Saint Vital • Alfred-Pellan EDA • Winnipeg Centre • Halifax • Jeunes néo-democrates du Québec (JNDQ) / Young New Democrats of Quebec (YNDQ) • South Okanagan-West Kootenay EDA • Etobicoke-Lakeshore • York-Simcoe • Toronto-St. Paul’s • Eglinton-Lawrence • Central Okanagan Similkameen • Hamilton Centre • West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country • Vancouver Granville • North Vancouver • Willowdale Riding Association • Spadina Fort York • Burnaby North–Seymour • Laurier–Sainte-Marie Victoria • Thompson-Cariboo-Thompson • Ottawa-Vanier Hamilton West Ancaster Dundsas • London West • Saskatoon-University • Canada’s Young New Democrats Executive • London Fanshawe • Glengarry-Prescott-Russell

WHEREAS: Canada and Israel trade millions in arms facilitating an illegal occupation and the Canada-Israel Free Trade agreement violates international law and UNSC resolutions by encouraging illegal settlements.

WHEREAS: Oxfam & UN experts support banning settlement products as do Amnesty & the Canadian Labour Congress who additionally call to end arms sales.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the NDP Policy Book Clause 4.1.f be amended to include:

New Democrats believe in:

  1. Working with partners for peace in Israel and Palestine, respecting UN resolutions and international law, supporting peaceful co-existence in viable, independent states with agreed-upon borders, an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and an end to violence targeting civilians. To that end:
  2. Ending all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine
  3. Suspending the bilateral trade of all arms and related materials with the State of Israel until Palestinian rights are upheld.

04–11–20

OPPOSING THE INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE ALLIANCE DEFINITION OF ANTI-SEMITISM

Sponsored by: Churchill–Keewatinook Aski • London North Centre Ottawa South Parkdale-High Park • CUPE BC Division • York Centre • Saanich-Gulf Islands • Parry Sound-Muskoka • London and District Labour Council • Huron Bruce NDP Burnaby North-Seymour • Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge EDA • Beaches-East York Vancouver Granville Alfred-Pellan EDA • Jeunes néodemocrates du Québec (JNDQ) / Young New Democrats of Quebec (YNDQ) • Brantford Brant NDP EDA • Milton • Vancouver East • New Westminster-Burnaby • London West • York-Simcoe • Regina–Qu’Appelle Federal NDP Riding Association • Hamilton West Ancaster Dundas • Spadina-Fort York • Oxford • University-Rosedale York South Weston EDA Saint Boniface-Saint Vital • Eglinton-Lawrence • Hamilton Centre • Thornhill EDA • Regina–Qu’Appelle Federal NDP Riding Association • Pickering-Uxbridge NDP • Winnipeg Centre • Fredericton • Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam Fed NDP EDA • Victoria EDA • Ottawa-Vanier • Laurier–Sainte-Marie • Scarborough Southwest • Halifax • Willowdale Riding Association • Hamilton Mountain EDA • Toronto Centre • Etobicoke-Lakeshore • London Fanshawe • Glengarry-Prescott-Russell

WHEREAS: The IHRA working definition of antisemitism and its examples have been used to seek to silence criticism, including that of NDP caucus members, of serious violations of Palestinian human rights and international law by Israel, and

WHEREAS: We strongly condemn antisemitism, Islamophobia, white supremacy, and all forms of hatred and intolerance.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

The following be added to Section 4.1 (f) of the NDP 2018 Policy Book

While strongly condemning antisemitism, opposing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition with its examples of antisemitism, which have been used to attempt to silence those who denounce grave abuses of human rights of the Palestinian people, and those who speak out against the illegal occupation and annexation of Palestinian lands, unequal treatment of Arab-Palestinians in Israel, and the inhumane blockade of Gaza.

04–25–20

RESUMPTION OF DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH IRAN

Sponsored by: Willowdale Riding Association

WHEREAS:

the breaking of diplomatic and economic ties with Iran by the Harper Government harmed the Iranian-Canadian community, deteriorated Canada’s international standing, and harmed Iranian civilians;

WHEREAS the closure of embassies in Canada and Iran continues to harm Iranian-Canadians by depriving them of consular services and representation;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

the New Democratic Party commits to resuming normal diplomatic relations with Iran (including the re-opening of embassies), as a matter of utmost urgency.

04–29–20

SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE

Sponsored by: Mont Royal Fredericton • Hamilton Centre • Spadina-Fort York • Scarborough Southwest • Beaches-East York • University-Rosedale • Toronto Centre • Saanich-Gulf Islands Thornhill EDA

WHEREAS millions of Palestinians face indignities and injustice from the State of Israel every day and;

WHEREAS, when the 2015 and 2019 NDP federal election campaigns blocked or removed NDP candidates who simply mentioned Israeli state crimes against Palestinians, it was a gross disservice to social justice;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

Therefore BE IT RESOLVED THAT the NDP actively campaign in support of the demand of Palestinian unions, civil society and unions across Canada and around the world for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli state until it dismantles the apartheid wall, allows refugees to return home, ends its demolition of Palestinian homes and olive groves, lifts the siege of Gaza, ends its occupation of Palestinian lands, and terminates its apartheid practices.

04–30–20

COMBATTING ANTI-SEMITISM & ANTI-PALESTINIAN RACISM

Sponsored by: Ottawa West-Nepean

WHEREAS anti-Semitism and anti-Palestinian racism are on the rise in Canada, oppressing both the

Jewish and Palestinian-Arab communities.

WHEREAS anti-Palestinian racism is identified as the targeting of the Palestinian people and denying their historical experience of dispossession, which normalizes their erasure and sets a precedent for negatively stereotyping Palestinians.

WHEREAS the IHRA Working Definition of anti-Semitism includes examples that wrongly conflate the criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, which has been weaponized to silence legitimate critiques of human rights abuses committed by the state of Israel in regular life, academic spaces, and government institutions.

WHEREAS the IHRA Working Definition of anti-Semitism has been used to criminalize and attack members of the Palestinian community and allies of Palestinian human rights in countries where it has been adopted.

WHEREAS the IHRA Working Definition of anti-Semitism has been rejected by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Federal NDP denounces and rejects the IHRA Working Definition of Anti-Semitism and its dangerous usage.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Federal NDP adopts the Independent Jewish Voices definition of Anti-Semitism as follows: “Antisemitism is racism, hostility, prejudice, vilification, discrimination or violence, including hate crimes, directed against Jews, as individuals, groups or as a collective – because they are Jews. Its expression includes attributing to Jews, as a group, characteristics or behaviours that are perceived as dangerous, harmful, frightening or threatening to non-Jews”

Be it Further Resolved to that end, that the Federal NDP shall identify and commit to combatting anti-Palestinian racism in all its forms that aims to silence, defame, smear, and target Palestinians in Canadian society.

04–34–20

TITLE: CRITICISM OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL OR THE SUPPORT OF THE PALESTINE PEOPLE NOT BE CONSIDERED ANTI-SEMITIC.

Sponsored by: West Nova

WHEREAS the State and the actions of the state are separate from the race and religion of the people living in that state; criticism of the right wing government of Israel and the rightwing politicians who make it up does not constitute criticism of all Israelis, let alone all Jews wherever they may live.

And Where As – It is the responsibility of all People to achieve world peace.

And Where As – The conflict in the lands of Palestine will not be resolved until all sides and their supporters are condemned for their use of violence and oppression.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

Therefore BE IT RESOLVED THAT the NDP not censor or punish those members, who seek peace though debate and revealing truth, by applying the label of anti-semitism.

04–41–20

CANADA OUT OF NATO

Sponsored by: Spadina-Fort York • Hamilton Centre

WHEREAS the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Canadian forces in Afghanistan engaged in propping up a US-puppet government of human rights abusers, drug traffickers and warlords, wasting money and lives to further a western agenda of geo-political power and plunder of resources;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

Therefore, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the NDP actively campaign to get Canada out of NATO, to get NATO out of Afghanistan, to remove the NATO nuclear ring around Russian borders, and to disengage Canadian forces from any support role for the U.S. and its client regimes around the world.

04–42–20

ELIMINATION OF THE CANADIAN ARMED FORCES

Sponsored by: Spadina-Fort York

WHEREAS:

militaries and war have devastatingly negative impacts on civilian populations, including needless deaths, bodily injury and the loss of housing. Militaries and war are a historic institution with no place in a modern society in a world with a globalized economy traditional militaries are becoming increasingly unnecessary. Other countries such as Costa Rica, Iceland, Samoa and Panama have abolished their armies.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT an NDP government will commit to phasing out the Canadian Armed Forces.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT all members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be retrained, at the expense of the federal government, into civil service roles that help expand Canadian, provincial and municipal social services, such as expanded health care, education, community services, public transit and parks.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT all members of the Canadian Armed Forces continue to receive full salaries and benefits until they assume their new jobs in the civil service.

04–48–20

PERSECUTION OF THE UYGHUR PEOPLE

Sponsored by: Vancouver-Kingsway

WHEREAS Canada is a signatory to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and should not remain silent in the face of the persecution of the Uyghur people occurring in China;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

New Democrats demand that Canada publicly condemn China’s ongoing persecution of the Uyghur people, that Canada address this issue in Parliament and at the United Nations, that Canada demand the closure of the re-education camps, that Canada develop an asylum program to bring Uyghur refugees to Canada, and that Canada sanction any corporation with links to forced labour by Uyghur people.

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports the Palestinians' right to self-determination in their own state. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere.
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