Home News Canada NDP to debate BDS motion at its national convention in Ottawa

NDP to debate BDS motion at its national convention in Ottawa


A resolution that calls on Israel to “end its occupation” of Palestinian land and on Canada to employ boycott, divestment and sanctions strategies against the Jewish state, will be debated later this month at the NDP convention in Ottawa.

The resolution, titled, “Supporting a just peace in Israel/Palestine,” calls on “all parties to abandon violence and negotiate a resolution grounded in international law,” and urges Israel to end its occupation and settlement program, lift the Gaza blockade and recognize Arab-Palestinian rights and refugee claims.

It also calls on the Canadian government to ban products from Israeli settlements, and opposes “parliamentary efforts to undermine non-violent movements,” which is likely a reference to the federal anti-BDS motion that passed in 2016.

This resolution is meant to replace the party’s current policy on Israel, which states that the NDP believes in “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.”

Geneviève Joëlle and Jake Cohen, both members of the NDP and Independent Jewish Voices, are part of the group that drafted the resolution.


It has been endorsed by 24 riding associations nationwide, as well as numerous campus clubs, politicians and activists, including Yves Engler, who penned a 2016 essay for the Huffington Post, in which he posited that the term anti-Semitism “is now primarily invoked to uphold Jewish/white privilege.”

Joëlle said that the language used in the resolution was carefully chosen.

“We crafted it in a way that counters any form of attempts by groups to label this as something that is inherently anti-Semitic (and) puts forth something that is grounded in the respect of human rights and international law,” she said.

Cohen said the resolution aims to “constitutionalize some of the policies that are not in the constitution, like calling on Israel to end the blockade on Gaza, so it’s a bunch of things that have already been said by NDP MPs, but isn’t necessarily in the policy book.”

He said he doesn’t anticipate that this resolution will divide the membership, adding that a 2017 survey showed that 84 per cent of New Democrats believe that it’s reasonable to sanction Israel.

Former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, centre, at the party’s convention in 2012. MATT JIGGINS PHOTO

“People will disagree,” said Cohen. “We do see some opposition towards this, as there has been in the past … but we think it’s time we take a stance.… We want our policy to start reflecting what the membership thinks.”

Joëlle added that the resolution has a lot of support within the party.

“It is in alignment with what our party stands for. We’re confident that we can get this passed,” she said.

Cohen said that during the party’s leadership race in 2017, every candidate in the running took a position against Israel’s occupation.

“Our current leader, Jagmeet Singh, we’re not sure where he stands on our particular resolution, but we know that he did tweet about the blackout in Gaza,” Cohen said, referring to a series of pro-Palestinian tweets that Singh posted in July.

We want our policy to start reflecting what the membership thinks.
– Jake Cohen

Responding to the resolution, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel said in a statement that, “CIJA has enjoyed an excellent relationship with the party and with its last two leaders, Tom Mulcair and Jack Layton, and we are hoping to build a similar relationship with Jagmeet Singh and his team.”

He praised both Layton and Mulcair for their leadership, when it came to “pushing back against marginal elements within the party that sought to advance an extreme agenda to the detriment of the NDP’s broader policy priorities,” and said he hopes that Singh will do the same.

In a statement from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies, president and CEO Avi Benlolo said that he sent a letter to NDP president Marit Stiles, urging her to keep the “divisive and one-sided resolution off the agenda.”

“The resolution is misleading and paints Israel as a villain, failing to mention the violence perpetrated by Palestinians and the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to support that violence,” Benlolo said.

B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said he communicated his strong opposition to the resolution to NDP leadership and expects “the federal NDP to reject this anti-Israel resolution,” which is “based on falsehoods and will contribute nothing toward the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict.”

  • bill smith

    BDS is not a “non-violent” movement, it’s a tool to be used in addition to violence.
    Source: BDS Website (in Arabic)

    • Sydney Nestel

      Link please? Otherwise I’m going to assume this is made up.

      • moosehorn

        No need for assuming, it is made up.

    • Misterioso


      • bill smith

        Not bull crap….
        I see that this article has caught the attention of IJV activists and part of their group email blasts.

  • DavidJH

    Polling shows that the 84% of NDP supporters, and 66% of Canadians in general, think it would be reasonable to add Israel to the list of countries which Canada sanctions over human rights issues: http://ijvcanada.org/2017/poll-on-bds/
    So this resolution simply reflects members’ values and Canadians’ values.

    • Judy Goldschmidt

      May it be so!

  • DavidJH

    Polling shows that this resolution supports positions which 66% of Canadians and 84% of NDP supports find reasonable: http://ijvcanada.org/2017/poll-on-bds/
    #PalestineResoNDP is a reflection of Canadian and New Democratic values.

  • Pete Moss

    It’s unlikely that this resolution will be passed in its present wording or any revised wording. The NDP bureaucrats will cave to the pressure from the zionist Lobby.

  • Dimitri Lascaris

    The notion that proponents of the NDP motion are “marginal” within the NDP bears no relationship to the facts. An EKOS poll conducted last year demonstrated that, within the NDP, there is overwhelming support for BDS and for Canadian government sanctions on the State of Israel. That same poll showed that a large majority of Canadians support the use of boycotts and sanctions to bring an end to the State of Israel’s long-standing and well-documented human rights abuses. The EKOS poll can be found here: ijvcanada.org/2017/poll-on-bds/. Canada currently imposes sanctions on approximately 20 states known to be human rights violators. There is no justification for treating Israel any differently than Canada treats those 20 violators.

    • Harry Abrams

      You can mealy mouth this insane BDS thing all you want. It’s another effing Auschwitz in the works ….

    • Michael Mann

      Yes, it’s clear that the NDP generally indulges a dark motivation where Jews are concerned.

      Say, weren’t you fired?

  • ReynoldR

    Sounds like a resolution that this NDP member will support. The mistreatment of Palestinians must stop. There’s no need to “paint Israel as the villain”. Israel’s actions make it a de facto villian.

    • Michael Mann

      Oh, you mean things like building health clinics and providing modern agricultural techniques; lowering infant mortality rates and raising living standards…despite PA action to undermine those efforts. Villainous behaviour on Israel’s part indeed.

      • Johnny Blackburn

        no, like bombing schools and hospitals, demolishing homes, imprisoning and torturing children, stealing resources, burning orchards, and using white phosphorus on civilians.

        • Michael Mann

          Ah, torn a page out of the NDP policy convention have you?

          Schools and hospitals with arms caches in and under them — that being the breach of international law and Israel’s actions lawful under doctrine of necessity. You would clearly give terrorists carte blanche.

          Are you aware of the security exceptions in the Fourth Geneva Convention, Articles 64 to 78? Israel MUST do what is necessary to maintain peace and order for civilian populations under lawful occupation. That includes home demolition, check points, preventive detention, barriers.

          We know that Israel takes all necessary steps to avoid civilian casualties while Arabs take all steps to expose civilians to harm.

          Get a legal education then come back and talk.

  • Michael Mann

    But Arab-Palestinian have no rights with respect to territory and displaced Palestinians are not refugees within the meaning of the term in international law; so, the NDP must be seen as questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

    Nor are “settlements” contrary to international law. Jews have a treaty right to reside anywhere west of the Jordan River.

    Oslo was the stupidest gambit by an Israeli government, offering an opportunity that has morphed into an imagined right.

    NDP members know all this. They simply choose to side with the Arab Palestinian leadership who seek to eradicate a Jewish presence from the region. That’s hatred and that, of course is what the NDP has always been about.

  • Gregory Allard

    Wait Since when did palestine exist… the west bank was rightfully Jordanian land

    • Johnny Blackburn

      since 1175 BCE

      • Gregory Allard

        Funny Cause it was Still Judea and Ooooh yeah That was roman propaganda. BDS was part of the 1948 and 1967 Failed Attempts to murder The people of israel which were inspired by An SS recruiter and nazi propgandist.

  • David Roytenberg

    One can symbolically boycott “the settlements” without boycotting Israel. I admit that there is an intellectually coherent distinction between BDS and boycotting “the settlements”. Peter Beinart publicly supported this position.

    But as a practical matter, the Jewish communities in the disputed territories are wholly integrated with the economy of Israel and many Palestinian jobs depend on the economy of the Jewish communities in the disputed territories. An actual boycott of Israeli settlement products would be hard to implement in practice and would hurt Palestinians as well as “settlers” if successful.

    In my opinion, any serious effort to implement a boycott of those “benefiting from the Israeli occupation” will be indistinguishable from full BDS. The measure proposed in this resolution is thus a Trojan horse for full BDS, and I oppose it as vigorously as I oppose BDS. A similar position was taken by the United Church of Canada and has led to a breach of relations between UC and Jewish congregations.

    NDP, please don’t do this.

    • Gregory Allard

      The goal of the BDS movement is to Legitimize anti-semitic hate.

      end of the conversation.

      also WOULD hurt “palestinians” Um first of all they’re jordanians living in the west bank I mean Why do you think from 1948 to 1967 that the Arabs Happily gave up the west bank and didn’t care that it was occupied? cause Palestine is made up propaganda.

  • Thucydides_of_Athens

    Nice to see anti semitism and Socialism are maintaining their close historic relationship.