NDP dismiss BDS motion, reject Jerusalem as capital at convention

A resolution calling on Israel “to end its occupation” and on Canada to ban products made in Jewish settlements failed to make it to the floor at the recent federal NDP convention in Ottawa.

The measure was placed near the bottom of the agenda – number 37 of 45 resolutions – by the party’s resolutions committee before the convention, which was held from Feb. 16 to 18. In a closed-door session on the morning of Feb. 16, delegates failed to get the resolution bumped up to the floor.

The motion to move the resolution to the floor was narrowly defeated by roughly 200 to 189 votes, meaning that the measure never saw the light of day.

B’nai Brith Canada called the events a “massive setback for Canada’s anti-Israel camp, saying that the resolution “would have opened the door for economic warfare against Israel.”

B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn said the measure’s rejection “is a slap in the face for those who oppose the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.”


Prior to the convention, Canadian Friends of Peace Now had urged the party to reject the “wrong-headed” and “highly one-sided” resolution, while the progressive Zionist group JSpace Canada called it “biased” and said it would make joining the NDP “untenable for Canadians who are otherwise in sympathy with the party’s focus on jobs, inequality and social justice.”

Titled, Supporting a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine, the resolution called on “all parties to abandon violence and negotiate a resolution grounded in international law,” and urged Israel “to end its occupation and settlement program,” lift the Gaza blockade and recognize Arab-Palestinian rights and refugee claims.

It also called on Ottawa to ban products from Israeli settlements and to oppose “parliamentary efforts to undermine non-violent movements,” which is likely a reference to the 2016 motion that condemned the BDS movement.

Party insiders said the resolution had the support of around 30 riding associations, current and former NDP MPs, as well as the unanimous backing of the party’s youth wing. The resolution itself said that 84 per cent of New Democrats and 66 per cent of Canadians believe it is “reasonable to sanction Israel for its military occupation and settlement program.” It did not cite a source for those numbers.

The resolution was 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.”

The anti-Israel crowd made a serious tactical error.
– Aidan Fishman

B’nai Brith said that procedural wrangling prevented a number of other resolutions targeting Israel from being debated, as well.

“The anti-Israel crowd made a serious tactical error by wasting time at plenary complaining about the failure of their preferred anti-Israel resolution to reach the floor,” said Aidan Fishman, interim national director of the group’s League for Human Rights.

“This time-wasting ironically prevented them from having time to debate any of the other anti-Israel resolutions located in the middle of the agenda.”

The sole Israel-related measure to pass garnered a lot of heated debate on the floor. The approved resolution condemned “violations of UN resolutions and international laws by both sides” in the Mideast conflict and U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It also recognized the right of both Israelis and Palestinians “to live in peace in viable, independent states with negotiated and agreed-upon borders.”

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies said it remains concerned about “anti-Israel voices that continue to threaten to co-opt the agenda of the NDP.”

The party “rightly rejected an attempt by a small, aggressive, and radical anti-Israel minority” to put it at odds with the long-held Canadian and international consensus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel said in an email.

Policies that single out Israel “serve only to undermine the peace process by driving Israelis and Palestinians further apart,” Fogel stated. Adoption of such policy positions “would marginalize the NDP.”

The CJN’s queries to Jake Cohen, a member of the NDP and of the pro-BDS group Independent Jewish Voices, were not returned. But Cohen told the news website Ricochet that he remains optimistic about the Palestine resolution. “There is movement in the NDP on this issue. We think the door is open for a more progressive stance on this issue,” he said.

In a similar turn of events, a resolution condemning “apartheid” Israel and supporting BDS failed to reach the floor for debate at the Ontario NDP’s convention last April.