September 17, 2015
So far in the current federal election campaign, there has been a virtual silence from the major political parties about one of the most crucial international issues: Israel’s illegal, apartheid-style occupation of Palestine, and the shift in Canada’s position to unconditional support for Israel’s expansionist policies.
Despite the courageous efforts of many grassroots Palestinian solidarity activists, this issue has been almost completely blocked from any meaningful public debate.
This is largely due to the consistent attempt by the Harper Conservatives and pro-Israel lobby groups to label any criticism of Israeli policies as “anti-Semitism”, and to vilify all those who support the BDS campaign for “boycott, disinvestment and sanctions” against Israel. One of the key objectives of Harper’s Bill C-51 was its implicit inclusion of BDS campaign activists among the many categories of so-called “terrorists”.
“In our 2015 election platform,” says Communist Party of Canada leader Miguel Figueroa, “we renew our principled call to oppose Israeli apartheid and its continuing siege of Gaza, and to demand a just peace in the Middle East based on total withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories, the release of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the formation of an independent, viable Palestinian state.”
“Our candidates will make opposition to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine a key element of our campaign. We will continue to give full support to the BDS movement, including the ongoing efforts to break the Israeli blockade and bring material solidarity to the people of Gaza.”
Figueroa, who is the CPC candidate in the Toronto riding of Davenport, also noted that “although millions of Canadians are strongly opposed to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and its wars against the people of Gaza, the ‘major’ parties display a shameful consensus that no criticism of such policies can be expressed.”
In this respect, the parliamentary opposition parties refuse to utter a word to challenge the Harper Conservative stance of unquestioning support for Israel. Any candidate of these parties who is discovered to have previously expressed opinions critical of Israeli policies faces possible removal from the race, and in fact a number of NDP candidates or potential candidates have been silenced in this way. By stifling their own candidates and members, these parties all give support to the Israeli regime.
“In some cases, the subservience of the parliamentary opposition parties has gone even further. For example, the Liberals and the NDP joined with the Conservatives in expressing condolences to the family of the late war criminal Ariel Sharon, the butcher of Sabra and Shatilla,” Figueroa added. “We also recall that BC Green MLA Andrew Weaver publicly called for removal of a Vancouver Island billboard calling for support of the BDS campaign, falsely accusing the groups which placed this billboard of being racists and anti-Semitic.”
The Communist Party of Canada is proud of its longstanding policies of solidarity with the Palestinian people, and we will continue to express our views, regardless of the threats of the Conservative government and the complicity of the mainstream media in silencing dissent.
In Montreal, the Communist Party’s campaign is aiming to make Palestine an election issue and confront Harper’s attempt to criminalize BDS by placing signs throughout the city. The signs are being coordinated by William Sloan, Party candidate in Ville-Marie-Le sud-ouest-Île-des-sœurs.
“For the third straight time our election posters’ slogan is END CANADIAN SUPPORT FOR APARTHEID ISRAEL. Two elections ago, the City of Westmount removed these signs illegally, but had their fingers slapped by the Election Commissioner,” said Sloan, a retired refugee lawyer, and a long time activist with Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU) in Montreal.
“This time we are upping the ante to confront the government’s attempt to muzzle freedom of expression,” Sloan said. “Our signs have the photo of the little boy who was killed on a Gaza beach last year while playing soccer with his cousins.”
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