Editorial: Green Party’s stand on Israel remains lopsided

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With growing concern around the world for global warming and other environmental issues,
some voters will want to support candidates for the Green Party of Canada.

With only two incumbent MPs, both in B.C. – leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands) and Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith), elected in a May by-election – the party may well increase its popular vote and possibly be asked to sustain a minority government, if Liberals and Conservatives fail to win a majority.

Should voters, then, be concerned by the fact that at one point, the Greens in August 2016 had endorsed a resolution in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel? After Elizabeth May threatened to resign, the party repealed that resolution in December of the same year.

There is good reason for supporters of Israel’s integrity to be concerned. The BDS movement has a broad set of goals that goes beyond boycotting goods produced in what the original resolution called “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” BDS, in its one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also endorses the right of return for more than 7 million Palestinian refugees and their
descendants.

The ambiguity in what BDS really stands for is extremely worrisome. Their propaganda seems to want to rewrite history, when in 1947 the Palestinian Arab leadership rejected the original two-state solution voted by the UN General Assembly. The massive return of several million
Palestinians going back more than 70 years would effectively doom the idea of a Jewish and democratic state. Many BDS supporters advocate a boycott of all things Israeli.

The Green’s amended resolution won’t satisfy all supporters of Israel, but it was accompanied by a statement that the party “rejects the goals of the ‘BDS movement’ as they do not include the right of the State of Israel to exist.” Their amended position endorses a two-state solution and denounces violence “in all its forms” as counter-productive. It then goes on to support “non-violent responses to violence and oppression” through government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment, economic sanctions, and arms embargoes. It sounds a lot like BDS lite.

It’s mainly about pressure on Israel. For example, it calls on Israel to “respect the intent” of UN Resolution 194 passed in Dec. 1948 that says in part, “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so.” The Palestinian leadership’s hard line on refugee return is one reason peace efforts have failed.

The Greens want to ban imports to Canada of products produced “wholly or partly within or by illegal Israeli settlements.” Some voters may well find the Green Party’s focus on Israel too one-sided. And so do we.

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