Jun 15 2010

No More Two-Track Middle East Policy From NDP

Published by at 11:15 am under Canada,canadian politics,Israel-Palestine

Probably the best thing to come out of this weird incident with NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies is the end of an unofficial two-track policy on Israel. With the statement from Thomas Mulcair, the NDP’s other deputy leader, the idea of Israel as an apartheid state is definitively ejected from mainstream political discourse in this country.

Let’s take a quick look at Mulcair’s statement as recorded in the National Post:

“No member of our caucus, whatever other title they have, is allowed to invent their own policy,” said Mr. Mulcair. “We take decisions together, parties formulate policies together, and to say that you’re personally in favour of boycott, divestment and sanctions for the only democracy in the Middle East is, as far as I’m concerned, grossly unacceptable.”

If the NDP caucus truly believes this, then it’s a sea-change for public discussion of foreign policy vis a vis Israel and the Palestinians in this country. The ideology behind boycott and divestment campaigns against Israel are firmly relegated to the land of 9/11 Truthers, Creationists and the more nefarious minds behind the Rhino party.

For political pragmatists like myself, the BDS campaign has always been an extreme phenomenon that never carried any official support from any legitimate political party or their rank and file, or at least shouldn’t have. Yet there’s no question that NDP rank and file were far more likely to have sympathy with the “Israel Apartheid State” view than their Liberal or Conservative party counterparts (and nobody really cares what Bloc members think about this stuff, anyway).

Now, many NDP members, particularly those a little higher up in the food chain, are forced to confront the reality that the BDS ideas they’ve flirted with for years are simply not part of the NDP platform — and really never have been. If NDP supporters want to retain ties to BDS, it will have to do so in a fairly clandestine manner; in the same way that when some Conservatives decide to make a statement about pro-life abortion politics, they do so in a private venue amongst their close colleagues. The days of NDP MPs like Libby Davies coming out overtly in favor of a controversial BDS campaign are now over.

That is to say, those days are over if the NDP really do mean what they’re saying.

Libby Davies Puts Her Foot In It

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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “No More Two-Track Middle East Policy From NDP”

  1. Dan Hilbornon 15 Jun 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Boycott, sanctions and divestment are tactics used by many respectable nations. Such as here:


    Please note that Libby posted this on her website three days ago.


  2. jnarveyon 15 Jun 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Hey Dan. Not sure if I see a moral equivalence here. Iran routinely brutalizes and tortures its own population (not to mention Canadian journalists). It openly calls for the destruction of a UN member state. It sponsors terrorist movements throughout the Middle East. Homosexuals are hanged from cranes in soccer stadiums. Frankly, boycotting a speech at the UN is the least Canadian officials can do. It also contrasts nicely with how Khomeinist supporters in Canada use threats and violence to shut down speeches by people they don’t like.

    As for Libby’s apology, let’s just say I’ll believe it when I see some action to back it up. To paraphrase my wife, apologies without changing behavior mean nothing.

  3. Williamon 15 Jun 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Dan, she posted it 3 days ago. A full WEEK after she was aware that the video was posted. The blogger, from commentsfromleftfield.com, notified her office that he was uploading the video last Sunday.

    She only apologized because she got in crap for it…and was forced to.

  4. yankev rabkinon 16 Jun 2010 at 8:10 am

    This evil woman should resign completely from the NDP. Let her sit as an Independent backbencher just like Helena Guergis. For anyone to delegitimize a country that is a UN member — like Israel — from the day of its birth, is an act not of criticism but of vile slander. No political party in Canada should have such a member in its ranks.

  5. Dan Hilbornon 16 Jun 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I was not trying to draw a “moral” equivalent, just a legal one.

    If boycotts, divestment and sanctions are legitimate tools against Iran, then a free and democratic country such as Canada must allow debate about using those tools against other countries, too.

    That’s all I was trying to say!

    BTW – Clandestine politics are the roots of dirty and corrupt politics.
    Political debates need to be held in the open.

  6. jnarveyon 17 Jun 2010 at 8:36 am

    Hey Dan, I do get your point, but I still think it’s misplaced. It’s not strange to say that some things are inside of the mainstream of political discussion and some things are not.

    For instance, in Canada at least, no politician is advocating in public for the implementation of Creationism as part of every high school curriculum, reintroduction of capital punishment, or cutbacks on nuclear safety protocols to save money. Now the BDS campaign is relegated to the same political wasteland. Sure, it’s a free country and anyone can talk about this stuff if they want — but what’s the point?

    If politicians want to talk about stuff outside of the mainstream on their own time in the company of close friends, they can go ahead. They just shouldn’t attempt to confuse Canadian voters or their own party that their oddball views are actually official party policy. If they do bizarre stuff in public, they ought to be called out on it.

  7. Dan Hilbornon 17 Jun 2010 at 8:11 pm


    I’d rather to live in a country built on the rule of law than the rule of morality. Morality is always a personal thing, and one person’s absolute good can easily be another person’s hell.

    I also prefer public debate to clandestine politics.

    For example.
    The Christian Heritage Party – which is now largely dormant, thanks to its leadership’s general support for the Conservatives – once openly discussed plans to bring creationism to every Canadian school. Today, the debate has gone underground. That is bad for democracy. If any candidate believes creationism should replace evolution in the school system, they should say so.

    Also, there are many Parliamentarians, from a variety of political parties, who would happily vote to reinstate the death penalty. In 1987, a free vote on the issue was 148 to 127 in favour of maintaining the abolition of capital punishment. All federal candidates should publicly state their views on this important topic.

    For democracy to flourish, public policy debates need to be held in the open. While it is okay for party policy to be hashed out behind closed doors, and for private people to have private discussions, it is not okay for public policy plans to be kept secret, and then implemented after an election.

  8. Judith Beltonon 27 Apr 2011 at 10:03 pm

    I will not be voting NDP nationally or politically largely because of what the NDP supporters/representatives seem to be knowing and/or not knowing about Israel. I sent a comment to Libby Davies about the BDS about six months ago and she never replied. I now think she has little between her ears and because she is supported by the NDP, I think the party, including my local representative (not Libby Davies), just does not at all represent the interests of my and my children! Sorry! No vote from me!

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