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article imageOp-Ed: NDP cracks down on critics of Israel

By Ken Hanly     Aug 17, 2015 in Politics
Ottawa - The NDP is cracking down on candidates who go beyond the mildest criticism of Israel. Prospective candidates have also been rejected because of their support of the Palestinian cause and criticism of Israel.
The Conservatives are successfully using the tactic of looking up past statements of NDP candidates on social media such as Facebook in order to accuse them of being anti-Semitic. Harper's Conservatives are fawning admirers of Israel to such a degree that even the Israelis are surprised. Morgan Wheeldon was forced to resign as an NDP candidate after old Facebook comments he published were dug up and published, suggesting that Israel intended to engage in ethnic cleansing of a region.
Just a day later, Jerry Natanine, the Mayor of Clyde River and a prospective candidate for the NDP in Nunavut, said he had decided not to run after NDP headquarters suggested past statements he made on Facebook supporting the Palestinians could be used by opponents to claim he was anti-Semitic. Natanine had a number of Facebook posts in which he supported the Palestinian cause and criticized Israel. Natanine admitted he often sided with the Palestinians because of the hardships they face. He noted almost nothing was being rebuilt that had been destroyed in conflicts with Israel. In spite of being rebuffed by the NDP brass, Natanine said he still supports the party and would not run as an independent.
While NDP leaders have historically supported Israel on the whole, there have been groups within the NDP that have been activists in support of the Palestinian cause. Mulcair has expressed strong opposition to the boycott, divestment, and sanctions(BDS) movement against Israel. He had been highly critical of deputy leader Libby Davies for her support for BDS. Davies is not running for re-election this time around.
In 2008 Mulcair stated his position on Israel, a position that even Stephen Harper would praise: "I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances." Mulcair unequivocally rejected the BDS movement: "To say that you're personally in favour of boycott, divestment and sanctions for the only democracy in the Middle East is, as far as I'm concerned, grossly unacceptable."
Back in 2014, Paul Manly was also disqualified as a candidate in a BC riding for his views on BDS. His father, James Manly, a former NDP MP, participated in a flotilla attempting to breach the Gaza blockade and was held for some time by Israel in 2012. Paul had petitioned both the NDP and Conservatives to work harder for his relief. This election he is running for the Green Party.
While the Conservatives use the politics of fear to pass legislation such as the draconian Bill-C-51 anti-terror legislation, and to convince voters that they are safer when the Conservatives rule, they also use the same fear tactic to keep parties such as the leftist NDP from allowing any strong support of Palestine or any but the mildest critique of Israeli actions. An article in Rabble sums up the situation:
This ugly and seemingly inexorable push by the NDP to insist on absolutely mindless unity and unanimity by all candidates and MPs on all issues that have been pronounced upon by the leader and his inner-circle strategists is a symptom of the dumbing-down of mainstream bourgeois politics generally. In 2015 the diversity and contrast of positions and policies between any of the major parties is more narrow than at any other time in our country's modern political history. This tendency may be the result of a concentration of all parties on being elected rather than attempting to promote a particular program or vision of the future. Discourse during elections is framed within a narrow range of alternatives that party strategists believe will garner votes.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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