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Elizabeth May explains why she supports new Green party resolution

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Elizabeth May
Federal Green party Leader Elizabeth May

Federal Green party Leader Elizabeth May says she was able to support a revised policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it rejects the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement itself, but still backs boycotts as a tactic against the occupation and puts the onus on the Jewish state to move toward a two state-solution.

At a special general meeting held Dec. 3 and 4 in Calgary, 350 members voted to pass a policy titled “Measures to pressure the government of Israel to preserve the two-state solution: addendum to current Middle East policy.”

It replaced a policy titled “Palestinian self-determination and the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions,” that passed in August at a Green party convention in Ottawa.

“It needs to be said very clearly that the BDS movement does not understand the issue properly and is in fact undermining the peace process itself,” May told The CJN, the day after the addendum passed.

Immediately following the August convention, May firmly opposed the policy that supported the BDS movement.

“The reason I couldn’t accept our policy in August is because it looked very much as though we were adopting the BDS movement. And the BDS movement, although there are well-meaning people who support it, when you get down to it, their core goals do not include at all… the right of the State of Israel to exist,” May said.

READ: JEWISH GROUPS LIVID AFTER GREEN PARTY PASSES BDS MOTION

At that time, May considered stepping down as leader as a result, but following a family vacation, May ultimately announced she would stay on as leader, partly because the party’s executive council agreed to call a special meeting to give members the opportunity to revisit the BDS resolution.

The amended policy states, among other things, that the “Palestinian people are among the indigenous people of the geographic region now designated as Israel and the OPT [occupied Palestinian territory],” and it supports “only non-violent responses to violence and oppression, including economic measures such as government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment, economic sanctions and arms embargoes.”

It calls for a ban on products produced “wholly or partly within or by illegal Israeli settlements, or by Israeli businesses directly benefiting from the illegal occupation,” and it calls on the Canadian government to repeal the House of Commons resolution that condemned the BDS movement last February.

According to a statement by Thomas Woodley, president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East , Green members voted 85 per cent in favour of the revised policy.

Although the policy remains critical of Israel and still supports boycotts, divestment, sanctions and arms embargoes, its drafters were careful not to specifically endorse the international BDS movement. May insists the Green party is committed to a two-state solution.

“We condemn anyone who imagines that they don’t support, unequivocally, the right of the State of Israel to exist. That prefacing is critical to understanding the addendum,” she said.

“We’ve never been a party that was afraid to say out loud that we are critical of the decisions of the Israeli government from time to time. I think many Israelis are also critical of the decisions of the government from time to time.”

May said retired Israeli generals and intelligence officers who accuse Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of undermining the peace process and weakening security for Israelis, “make the case better than we can as Canadian Greens that there needs to be a course correction on the occupation, expansion of illegal settlements and so on… We’d rather be aligning ourselves with criticisms that come from within the State of Israel, than with a movement that doesn’t understand the critical necessity to defend the right of the State of Israel to exist.”

May said she understands that the policy won’t sit well with many members of the Jewish community, but added, “There are limited number of mechanisms that governments and parties can use to signal to a foreign government that we think you’re making a mistake here, while at the same time, remaining allies.”

READ: JEWISH GROUPS CONDEMN NEW GREEN BDS RESOLUTION

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said in a statement that the group condemns the resolution, “which confirms the Green party has been co-opted by extreme activists who – in their obsessive campaign of prejudice against Israelis – threaten the party’s own credibility and relevance in Canadian politics.

“The new policy is rife with historical distortions and places the Green party at odds with the Canadian consensus that BDS is discriminatory and counter-productive to peace. The Ontario Legislature just voted by a ten-fold margin to reject the differential treatment of Israel, underscoring how out of touch the Green party has become,” Koffler Fogel said.

The statement also pointed to the policy’s assertion that Palestinians are Israel’s “indigenous people,” and the implication that Jews have no ancestral or indigenous roots in Israel.

“Elizabeth May and the party’s leadership have turned their backs on the mainstream Jewish community, including the many Jewish Greens who no longer feel welcome,” he said, adding that despite calling attention to the Green party that the vote would take place on Shabbat, excluding observant Jews from the vote, the vote was held on Dec. 4.

Although May rejected the idea of boycotting Israel, she made a distinction between “legal Israel” and “illegal Israel.”

“I’d go out of my way to buy a product that is labelled a product of Israel from within the legal boundaries of Israel. But personally, I prefer not to buy products that come from an area that is in illegally occupied territories, which again, even retired members of the Israeli Defence Forces are saying are making life less secure for legal Israel.”

READ: THE GREEN PARTY SHOULD BE ONE OF ISRAEL’S BIGGEST BOOSTERS

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said he was encouraged by the rejection of the BDS movement.

“No matter how the party came to this position, it is a positive thing for Canadians that once again, the anti-Semitic BDS movement has been rejected. It is especially significant given the amount of energy, time and resources being poured into the promotion of the anti-Semitic BDS movement by certain factions within the Green party.”

However, Mostyn added there is still misinformation in the policy.

“For example, the very characterization of settlements as ‘illegal’ under Article 49 of the Geneva Convention is either a deliberate misreading of that document, or complete ignorance of international law,” he said.

  • Michael Sherman

    Who cares. The Green Party is as irrelevant as the Purple Party and the Yellow Party and the (color)
    Party. Unfortunately May is just another front for anti-Zionists aka anti-Semites.

    • What makes me really sick is when May tries to portray herself as a sophisticated, honest broker vis a vis Israel and the Palestinians. She tried to spin her convoluted story that although she is against the general BDS movement, she still supports BDS when it comes to Judea, Samaria and any other Jews (only Jews) who might benefit from products developed there. What does that tell us? She is no less of an antisemite than her party members. Why are they even sticking their nose into this issue? No one except the gullible, left leaning Cdn Jewish News would even give her an interview about this issue. Michael you are absolutely right. The Green party is absolutely irrelevant. I sure wish Jewish organizations/media would stop giving them the publicity that they do not deserve!

  • Jim Benham

    Israel has not declared that Palestine has the right to exist. It is about time the CJN starts explaining to Canadians why they support or ignore Israeli illegal expansion.

    • TerrorIsEvil

      Palestine was Jewish Palestine when it became a British Mandated region. Jordan was stripped away from the Mandate for political favoritism/payback reasons to become an Arab state – or a “Palestinian” state as they later named themselves and came to be
      known. Several other countries of the region also became Muslim Arab states as
      a result of the British and French Mandates and that is a fact. The State of
      Israel is also a fact.

      I know that people like you
      would prefer a terror entity in Israel’s place but that is because you do not
      have to live there and because you might have been, as many were and still are,
      brought up being told by your church that Jews killed Jesus and that they
      deserve perpetual punishment for not adopting Christianity.

      To leftists who want to maintain the facade of political correctness today, that means that you cannot tell the world how much prejudice and hate you have against Jews and that you want them dead. So you have found a way around that conundrum and moral dilemma by hating Israel (the universal Jew) and by erasing its history, demanding its people
      give away their one and only home that is 3200 years older than Canada (which,
      by the way, was created by the same French and British powers who colonized all
      of the world, including the Middle East, at that time).

      So, if you want to erase treaties and agreements of the past, then you will have to be even-handed with your deconstruction project by erasing Canadian, American, and most of the European boundaries … and most all of the Middle East – meaning the Islamists
      who you love so much will have a continent without borders that will cause
      their tribes to fight forever in religious wars. That probably won’t register
      in your mind as a serious problem because only war that Israel conducts
      self-defensively is a bother to leftists and of immediate and vital concern. You
      really want the whole of the Middle East to look like Syria, Libya, etc.

      When you demand that Israel give its land away, think of packing your bags to leave Toronto, Canada for some place – but goodness knows who would take you in. Are you indigenous to any place in the world? How far do you and your ancestors go back anywhere in this world? Why did they come to Canada to colonize and destroy lives here? These are certainly big questions that perhaps the Green Party can address as they look
      for new homes for Canadians who have a lot of guilt about doing harm to
      indigenous people.

    • TerrorIsEvil

      And, just for your information, the PA and Hamas have in their Charters and have said many times that any “country” (i.e. – terror entity) in their control will be cleansed of Jews.

    • TerrorIsEvil

      What legal body such as the League of Nations, the UN or any other gave Canada their seal of approval? Canada was colonized by the British and French without anyone’s permission and with use of force. Modern Israel, after 3500 years of uninterrupted Jewish
      habitation, often interrupted by foreign occupations (like Islamic conquests), on the other hand, was the most discussed, debated, approved and sanctioned country in the world today. Israel is the most critiqued nation in the world because it IS a free nation and HAS a free press which is VERY active and self-critical in ways that no totalitarian Arab state
      would allow in their repressive regimes, and you know it! Get off your high
      horse and stop demonizing the one country in the region that does have judicial
      and political and social freedoms. How would it help you personally if this
      were destroyed? How would it help the world? Why are you involved in
      challenging Israel, giving totalitarianism a free pass and speaking up positively
      and politically for totalitarians and Islamists?

  • I commend May for threading a very awkward needle…and I would suggest that all outside Israel parties should try to steer clear of being pro or anti two state formula enunciations. The Palestinian Arabs are in a situation where they will have to begin to practice maturity and pragmatism, and that includes the fact that since they are geographically so intertwined with Israel – if they expect a scintilla of progress toward peace and sovereignty, they have to learn how to empathize with the Israeli situation. Until they are able to act with rational agency, to consider the process of peace-building to include the prospect that they may be able eventually, to become an enthusiastic and cooperative ally of Israel, they are not creating the conditions for willingness to give an inch by the Israelis. The vibes the Palestinian Arabs are giving off at present is to hope that the rest of the world will give up on Israel. That attitude is severely damaging the lives of their citizens.

  • TerrorIsEvil

    What does one privileged Canadian leader of the Green Party know about life in Israel and living under constant threat? What does she know of the reality of a proposed “two-state
    solution” where several terror groups will be working towards the end of Israel
    permanently and internationally protected in their own “states” were it to happen. If you like
    the ISIS Caliphate then you will really like a “Palestinian” Caliphate. But then you will not have to suffer the consequences 8000km away in Canada.

    And, by the way, Ms. May, there is enough for you right here in Canada (and plenty of environmental issues that your party was founded to address) to keep you busy for the next 100
    years without getting into matters that you have no knowledge and no business
    fixating on and certainly no way to solve even if you did understand the problems – which you do not.

    Why do you not spend time and focus all your political energy on real indigenous people in Canada instead of shilling for fake indigenous people in the Middle East?

    Why not work to give Canada away to the indigenous people, replace Canadians with indigenous people (work out where we will go once you have given Canada away and told Canadians to leave) instead of working to give Israel and Israelis away to people who are not (Jews are
    indigenous and have been in the region for over 3500 years)?

    I suggest you go away to read as much as you can about Israel’s rights and come back to confront those who were planted into the Green Party and directed by various leftist and Islamist extremist organizations to target your Party, take it over and make it into the Canadian Antisemitism Party and the Islamist-sympathy party rather than the environmental party.

    The indigenous people of Canada ought to be insulted and concerned that you are calling “Palestinians” indigenous to Israel when most of the “Palestinians” are recent to that specific region (traveled there for economic reasons in the 19th and 20th centuries). Most
    of them actually identified with and came from places in Syria, Iraq, Jordan and other Arab
    Muslim countries and well rewarded with their own countries (plural) by the British and French Mandates.

    The Jews of Israel people are the indigenous people of the geographic region now designated as Israel and Judea and Samaria (the latter is not occupied, by the way, but part of the British Mandate and set aside for the Jewish people – ask the League of Nations, the UN, the
    signatories to San Remo conference and Balfour declaration). You cannot ignore international
    agreements of the past just because you think that they do not personally please you and some extremist Jew haters today.

    It is too bad that you and the hard left do not want Israel to exist but Israel is a reality and a modern day miracle. Who knows, perhaps you are jealous of Israel’s strength, resiliency and survival in a sea of barbaric groups and terror states known as the Middle East.

    I suggest you go about evicting yourself from Canada and give your seat to a First Nations’ woman to make yourself feel good about redressing the imbalances of the past.

  • Seems to me the only country in the world that fails to acknowledge the illegality of Israeli Settlements in occupied Palestine is Israel. The UN, the United States and even Canada acknowledge this.