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NDP rejects call to drop pro-BDS candidate

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B’nai Brith Canada issued this screenshot from YouTube of NDP candidate Miranda Gallo affixing BDS labels to store merchandise.

The NDP has rejected a demand by B’nai Brith Canada that it disqualify one of its Montreal-area candidates who has campaigned for the boycott of Israel.

On Sept. 19, B’nai Brith released an image captured from YouTube of Miranda Gallo, who is running for the NDP in the Saint-Laurent riding, affixing a label to Israeli products on a store shelf.

The labels are part of a BDS campaign organized by Canadians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (CPJME). The labels read: “Warning/Do Not Buy This Product/Made in Israel: A country violating international law, the 4th Geneva Convention and human rights.”

Gallo, a McGill University graduate, is identified on the Montreal-based CPJME website as having been a staff research analyst and campus co-ordinator since 2017. She was an intern prior to that.

B’nai Brith says the video it found was dated 2016. The organization notes that the campaign targets products from within Israel’s internationally recognized boundaries, and not just those from the disputed territories.

It adds that, “Defacing products without the owner’s consent constitutes the criminal offence of mischief,” under Sec. 430 of the Criminal Code.

On Sept. 17, B’nai Brith expressed its concerns to the NDP. “On Sept. 19 the NDP responded to B’nai Brith, declining to drop Gallo as a candidate, adding that the NDP’s policy is ‘to work towards a just and lasting two-state solution between Israel and Palestine that respects human rights and international law,’ ” the organization stated.

“The party also said that Gallo was made aware of this policy and has agreed to support it.”

That’s not satisfactory to B’nai Brith, which noted that BDS is not NDP policy. The party did not permit a motion in support of BDS to reach the floor at its 2018 national convention.

“Someone who thinks it’s OK to vandalize store products based on the origin of their producer has no role as a candidate for a major Canadian political party,” said B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn.

Saint-Laurent has been Liberal since its creation in 1988. Seeking re-election is Emmanuella Lambropoulos, who won the seat in a 2017 byelection, following the resignation of Stéphane Dion.

Gallo is described on her campaign website as “working for a non-profit organization in Saint-Laurent that advocates for human rights in the Middle East.”

READ: INSIDE THE JEWISH-CANADIAN ELECTION BATTLEGROUND

She is not the only NDP candidate in the Montreal area with a history of criticizing Israel.

Star candidate Nima Charouf was nominated in March with the endorsement of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in Laurier-Sainte-Marie, which has been held since 2011 by the NDP’s Hélène Laverdière.

Charouf is a member of the provincial Québec Solidaire (QS) party, which officially endorses BDS, and the wife of Amir Khadir, who was a QS MNA for 10 years and co-lead the party for several years.

He actively promoted BDS, tried to get a motion supporting it before the national assembly and infamously demonstrated outside a store that sold Israeli footwear in 2010.

Laurier-Sainte-Marie is a seat the NDP hopes to hang onto, but support for the party is evaporating in the province. In the 2015 election, it elected 16 MPs in Quebec, down from the peak of 59 four years earlier.

However, the Liberals are running a strong candidate, environmentalist Steven Guilbeault. Before the unprecedented NDP “Orange Wave” of 2011, the riding was represented by former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe.

There are also concerns in the Jewish community about Zahia El-Masri, who was nominated in Ahuntsic-Cartierville in May.

An executive member of the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine, she has been a high-profile BDS activist for at least a decade. Her biography says she was born in Lebanon to Palestinian refugees and came to Canada in 1985, when she was 12.

In 2016, she appeared beside Omar Barghouti, the founder of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, and other Palestinian activists in a discussion titled, “Confronting Israeli Apartheid,” during the World Social Forum in Montreal.

Last year, El-Masri took part in Israel Apartheid Week events at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Concordia University, from which she is a graduate.

She most recently worked for the Regroupement des organismes du Montréal ethnique pour le logement.

Tourism Minister Mélanie Joly is seeking a second term in Ahuntsic-Cartierville. She beat her nearest challenger, the NDP’s Maria Mourani, by almost 10,000 votes in 2015.

Alexandre Boulerice, the incumbent MP for Rosemont-La Petite Patrie, who was named the party’s deputy leader in March by Singh, is also a critic of Israel.

Boulerice, a journalist and former Canadian Union of Public Employees representative, is a co-chair of the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Last year, he was one of the Canadian parliamentarians, including Green Leader Elizabeth May, who visited the West Bank and Gaza. They issued a report on the conditions facing ordinary Palestinians, which was applauded by CPJME. At a press conference, Boulerice described Israel’s military occupation as one of “segregation and discrimination.”

In February, Boulerice questioned the revamping of the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, asking in the House of Commons why the Liberal government rejected an NDP amendment to label products originating from “illegal Israeli settlements in order to distinguish between companies on the territory of the State of Israel and companies on the Palestinian territory that has been illegally occupied since 1967.”

Lastly, Sherbrooke MP Pierre-Luc Dusseault, the party’s revenue critic who is seeking re-election, tabled a citizens’ petition in the House in May, calling on the government to investigate whether the Jewish National Fund of Canada had violated the Income Tax Act.

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