MONTREAL — Political posters around Montreal depicting a dead child on a beach and accuse Israel of killing Palestinian children and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of supporting it are causing outrage.
Over a photo of the lifeless child, the signs read in French: “Israel murders Palestinian children/ Harper applauds/ What do the other parties say?”
In small print are the names of four Palestinian boys who died in July 2014 while playing soccer on a beach allegedly killed by an Israeli airstrike on the port of Gaza. It alleges that Israel closed a criminal investigation and no one has been found guilty.
The sponsor of the posters is identified as BDS Québec, paid and authorized by the Coalition pour la Justice et la Paix en Palestine.
The Conservative party issued a statement on Sept. 20 condemning the posters. “The Conservative Party of Canada is deeply disturbed by the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) signs posted in the Montreal area. We strongly condemn these signs as further evidence of continued, deplorable efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel.
“As we have said before, Canada will stand with Israel through fire and water… We will oppose any tactic to undermine Israel’s legitimacy, economic viability, or right to defend herself in the face of terror.”
Megan Murdoch, a spokesperson for the party, sent The CJN some photos of the posters. Two of them are on the same pole as New Democratic Party (NDP) candidates: Allison Turner in the riding of Ville Marie-Le Sud Ouest-Île des Soeurs, outside Concordia University’s downtown campus, and James Hughes of Notre Dame de Grâce-Westmount, near Westmount Square, where the Israeli Consulate is located.
NDP press secretary Mélanie Richer said the posters “have no association with any of the NDP candidates, nor have [they] anything to do with the NDP.”
Murdoch said that there were also at least two posters near McGill University on Sherbrooke Street, another near de Maisonneuve Boulevard and Greene Avenue, and one outside the Adonis grocery store on Ste. Catherine Street. BDS activists have held earlier protests at that store because it sells Israeli hummus.
Mount Royal Conservative candidate Robert Libman said the posters have been posted in that riding as well.
Calling them “revolting,” he stated: “I strongly oppose the BDS movement. Just as I will always oppose any attempt to delegitimize Israel, a friend and ally, the only democracy in the Middle East, I strongly oppose, not only the use of these images, but will always oppose anti-Semitism, which is what BDS is really about.”
According to information on its website, BDS Québec is supported by 27 groups, including such major unions as the Centrale des syndicats du Québec and the Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants, the Fédération des femmes du Québec, the student union Association syndicale pour une solidarité étudiante (ASSE), Independent Jewish Voices, and the political party Québec solidaire.
“We are absolutely disgusted by these signs,” said Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs spokesperson Eta Yudin on Sept. 24. “When we learned about them we immediately contacted both the City of Montreal and Elections Canada to see if they violate municipal bylaws or the Elections Canada Act. While they do not appear to contravene municipal bylaws, Elections Canada is still assessing and we are waiting for a final response. We have also reached out to the federal political parties, each of which are on record opposing and condemning BDS.”
She added: “This is yet another failed attempt by this group [BDS Québec] to legitimize themselves, this time by hijacking the federal election campaign with their attempt to demonize Israel. Their incendiary rhetoric has only resulted in alienating themselves from all three major parties. As far as we know, Facebook has already taken down their page.”
The Israeli Consulate General in Montreal stated that it is “appalled by the abuse of the Canadian election campaign to disseminate hateful slander about Israel. Support for Israel’s right to exist and the defence of our civilian population against brutal terrorist attacks is the consensus in Canada and is certainly not a campaign issue.”
Also on Sept. 24, former Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau, who is seeking re-election in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount, tweeted: “This kind of divisive and hateful rhetoric has no place in Canada and no place in this campaign.”