NDP Releases Anti-Israel Proposal Calling on Government to Follow Anti-Israel Boycotts

On April 20, the NDP Critic for foreign affairs & Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona, Heather McPherson, released a statement on behalf of the NDP, calling on the Trudeau government to take a harsher stance towards Israel.

The statement, which was shared by McPherson on her Twitter account and to her 11,200 followers, made a number of false and misleading claims about Israeli actions and policies and singled out Israel for censure and opprobrium.

McPherson, known for her long-time criticism of Israel and who recently apologized for sharing a podium at a press conference with an individual accused of antisemitism, referred to the recent “terrifying, disturbing and brutal violence at al-Aqsa during Ramadan,” which she described as being “the third year in a row where worshippers at al-Aqsa were attacked, drawing international condemnation.”

While there was indeed disturbing and brutal violence at the Al Aqsa Mosque recently, McPherson’s phrasing omits key and critical information.

The mosque, which is built atop the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, is Judaism’s holiest site, but this went entirely unmentioned in her statement.

Contrary to her suggestion that Israel attacked Palestinian worshippers unprovoked, in reality, hundreds of Palestinians holed themselves inside the mosque, armed with deadly weapons including rocks, improvised explosives, and fireworks, in preparation for a standoff with Israeli police.

The concern of Israeli Police was not fantasy; in previous years, Palestinian rioters had used their position on the Temple Mount to lob potentially deadly rocks onto Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall plaza below.

Canada needs to do far more to foster peace and justice in Israel and Palestine. The NDP is calling on the government to take several steps to move its foreign policy forward with full respect for human rights and international law.

Read my statement.https://t.co/q9eT2JzQ5O

— Heather McPherson (@HMcPhersonMP) April 20, 2023

While McPherson did acknowledge that Hezbollah and Hamas later fired rockets into Israel, “targeting Israeli civilians,” the clear suggestion is that they were prompted to do so because of Israel’s alleged unprovoked attacks on Palestinian worshippers.

Against this backdrop, McPherson and the NDP made four demands of the Trudeau government:

1. “Canadian officials must refuse to meet with far-right extremists in the Israeli government who engage in hate speech, encourage violations of international law, and seek to dismantle democratic institutions – including Ministers Smotrich and Ben Gvir.”

2. “Second, Canada must ban arms sales to Israel until such time as Palestinian human rights are respected.”

3. “Third, Canada should ban the import of all goods produced specifically in illegal settlements, as human rights groups Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called for.”

4. “Fourth, Canada should significantly increase funding and other support for peacebuilding efforts at all levels as well as support to strengthen Palestinian civil society.”

While McPherson is correct that in order to move the peace process forward, “real change is needed,” the above four steps will not accomplish positive, beneficial change and will only protract the conflict.

1. While anyone is free to find any Israeli politician distasteful – as many Israelis do – boycotting senior cabinet members of a close Canadian ally who were democratically elected accomplishes nothing more than legitimizing the anti-Israel boycott movement, which seeks to demonize and ultimately destroy Israel as a Jewish state. If desired, Canadian officials can register their views without wholly boycotting a component of Israel’s elected government.

2. Israel is the tenth-largest purchaser of Canadian arms, after Australia and ahead of Sweden, but halting these sales until Israel ensures that “Palestinian human rights are respected” is a meaningless declaration. Even in the face of ceaseless incitement and terrorism funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA), to say nothing of the active terrorism efforts of Hamas in Gaza and terror cells in the “West Bank”, Israel has continued to extend its hand in peace to the Palestinians. As many as 120,000 Palestinians work inside Israel thanks to Israeli work permits, and even in the face of relentless Palestinian terrorism, Israel works to minimize civilian casualties – a practice which has earned Israel’s military the moniker of the world’s most moral army. Conversely, by engaging in a “pay for slay” funding regimen of terrorism, where families of terrorists receive monthly payments from the Palestinian Authority, it is the Palestinian leadership, not Israel, which is violating Palestinian human rights.

3. Demanding that “Canada should ban the import of all goods produced specifically in illegal settlements” is a pronouncement based on misinformation. Despite the claims made by anti-Israel groups like Human Rights Watch, Israeli communities in Judea & Samaria (sometimes called the “West Bank” by the media) are not “illegal settlements,” precisely because they are not built on the land of any sovereign state. There is a strong basis for Israel’s claims to the land, including in international law. Simply referring to these areas as “illegal settlements” is false.

4. Finally, McPherson demands that the federal government “significantly increase funding and other support for peacebuilding efforts at all levels as well as support to strengthen Palestinian civil society.” While this is a laudable consideration in itself, there are serious concerns about how Canadian taxpayers have helped to fund decidedly un-peaceful efforts, including UNRWA, a United Nations agency funded in part by Canadian tax dollars, which is dedicated to Palestinians, but which has a history of anti-Israel incitement and antisemitism. Canada has funded Palestinian organizations with close ties to terrorist groups, only highlighting the need for greater scrutiny, vetting and due diligence protocols.

The seemingly endless violence between Israel and Palestinian terrorist organizations is undoubtedly distressing, but the statement disseminated online and on social media by Heather McPherson and the NDP only serves to place the blame entirely at Israel’s feet, without acknowledging the central role that Palestinians have in the funding, incitement and execution of terrorist activities, which continues to perpetuate conflict that harms both Palestinians and Israelis alike.

If the NDP wants to play a constructive and important role in fostering Mideast peace and promoting human rights, it should call on the Palestinians disavow terrorism and sit down with their Israeli counterparts and engage in good faith, bilateral negotiations to resolve the conflict.

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