I was recently dismayed to read a CJN editorial penned by Liberal Party Candidates Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt, who claim that the Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau are “unequivocal” in their support for Israel. However, the Liberal’s track record on Israel leaves much to be desired and it needs to be set straight: the Liberals are at best fair weather friends of Canada’s Jewish community. And at worst, well, allow me to elaborate.
Trudeau’s condemnation of Hamas and statements of support for a lasting peace agreement sound pleasant, but mask the underlying history of the Liberal Party’s betrayal of Israel, and hide the radically anti-Israel influence found in the party today. The Liberal Party’s stand on paper may be somewhat clear, but it is in no way unequivocal.
Former Thornhill MP Elinor Caplan tried to get the Liberal government to rescind the charitable status for Canadian Friends of Magen David Adom because their ambulances operated outside of the 1967 armistice line. Caplan’s successor as the federal representative of Ontario’s most Jewish riding, Susan Kadis, withdrew her support for Liberal Party leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff after he made comments about Israel’s “war crimes” during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War, a defensive operation against the terrorist group Hezbollah. In fact, the Liberal Party initially refused to officially label Hezbollah what it is – a terrorist entity.
Former Don Valley East MP and 2015 candidate, Yasmin Ratansi, was a director of the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Association, an organization dedicated to advancing the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, which makes its aim goal the elimination of the Jewish State. Last month she posted a Facebook petition to pressure congress to boycott PM Netanyahu’s speech on the danger of a nuclear Iran, and in a separate post shared a link to Jewish Voices for Peace’s conference featuring black panther Angela Davis, who recently spouted her anti-Israel venom at York University this year. Former MP and current Liberal candidate Omar Alghabra has called Israel’s military self defence against Hamas rockets “blind and cruel”, a sentiment echoed by fellow candidate and Trudeau advisor Andrew Leslie. Keep in mind that if Canada has the misfortune of having these two people elected along with Trudeau, they may very well be cabinet ministers, perhaps of defense or foreign affairs.
Am I the only one who recalls federal Liberal candidate (chosen by Trudeau), Darshan Kang, speaking at a pro-Hamas rally in Calgary? Because I do. I remember my friend Jacob being brutalized by a pro-Palestinian mob yelling “kill the Jews” and “Hitler was right” when they crossed the street to physically attack the pro-Israel counter demonstrators. Kang and by extension the Liberal Party of Canada are complicit in this act of anti-Semitic savagery.
Perhaps Levitt and Housefather like to think that their own personal support for Israel is unequivocal, but their party? Not even close. Not by a long shot.
I personally know a few Young Liberals who have posted on Facebook the most vile and hateful statements about Israel during the summer’s conflict. Perhaps the official Liberal Party policy stance and certain individual members could be described as pro-Israel, but an anti-Israel and pro-BDS faction is alive and well in the Liberal Party of Canada. On the contrary, I can say with certainty that in Conservative circles BDS and vitriolic hatred for Israel is something met with only ridicule and disgust. There are no Conservative MPs who support BDS, or any who take the very real threat of jihadi terrorism against Canada or Israel lightly.
This summer three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Toronto’s Jewish community sprang into action by organizing dozens of displays of solidarity and communal gatherings in support of Israel. As a young pro-Israel activist I attended many of these, and I do not recall one #BringBackOurBoys rally or pro-Israel demonstration that went by this summer without either Conservative MP Joe Oliver or MP Mark Adler, or Progressive Conservative MPP Gila Martow in attendance. As a Jewish young adult going through the tumultuous, heartbreaking events that unfolded, that meant a lot to me. It made me feel very secure as a Jewish Canadian during a time when Hamas and their sympathizers abroad in Canada were assaulting Israeli and Canadian democracy respectively.
It is just mind boggling that there are Jews on the left who are trying to convince this community that someone like Justin Trudeau, someone who uses the memory of the Holocaust as a political tool, who hand picks vapid anti-Semites for #TeamTrudeau, is a more trustworthy ally to our community than Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It’s just revolting that there are members of this community who think they can make their political score off trying to convince people that this man, who has taken a principled moral stance to defend Israel and the Jewish people, is not as supportive as the Liberal Party. It is absolutely appalling and patently dishonest.
Fortunately, the notion that Jews nominally vote Liberal is a thing of the past. The average Jewish voter in Canada has started to realize that a vote for Michael Levitt or Anthony Housefather is a vote for Yasmin Ratansi, Omar Alghabra, Darshan Kang or the many other Liberal Party politicians who have either aligned themselves with or have capitulated to the growing anti-Israel ideology in the Liberal Party that threatens the well-being of every Jewish and pro-Israel Canadian.
The most dangerous lies are the ones we tell ourselves. In Canada, authentic support for Israel is a partisan issue. It should not be. If you cherish our Canadian values and support our allies, in particular the only democratic nation in the Middle East, you will consider the Liberal Party’s unprincipled record at the polling booths this fall. If you don’t want to vote on the Israel issue, that’s fine. But do not pretend that any party other than the Conservative Party of Canada is a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people. To argue otherwise is to engage in self-indulgent self-deception.
Willem Hart is an executive member of the York University Campus Conservatives.