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Support from Israel lobby for Mulcair NDP leadership bid raises serious concerns

With voting underway to elect the new leader of Canada's New Democratic Party and just two weeks until the leadership convention, Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) has discovered information indicating that key players at the highest levels in Canada's Israel Lobby are backing the candidacy of Thomas Mulcair.

IJV is a non-partisan organization and is not endorsing any candidate in the NDP leadership race. But IJV has a responsibility to highlight the fact that the positions of leadership candidate Thomas Mulcair stand out as more closely aligned with those of Stephen Harper than with the NDP on the issue of the ongoing crisis in Israel/Palestine.

The newly revealed Israel Lobby support for Mulcair's NDP leadership bid includes accolades from Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Canada-Israel Committee, who has called Mulcair " courageous" for his one-sided support of Israel, because Mulcair has, in Fogel's estimation, "consistently challenged the radical element that has sought to capture the soul of their party."

Contributions to Mulcair's campaign include one from Brent Belzberg, past co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA); the endorsement of former NDP MP Lorne Nystrom, who is currently a board member of CIJA; a donation from CIJA board member Joel Reitman; and another from Alvin Segal, who is a board member of the Canada-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

The sums of money involved are not large, but "IJV's concern is that these donations indicate the leadership of the Israel Lobby recognizes that Mulcair would be 'an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances,' as he himself put it," says Montreal IJV steering committee member Fabienne Presentey. "As IJV sees it, Mr. Mulcair's unconditional support for Israel could result in the NDP ignoring Israel's violation of Palestinians' human rights and its contempt for international law."

Canada's Israel Lobby is becoming increasingly centralized and undemocratic. CIJA and its allies represent the corporate interests of only a minority of Canadian Jews. But they provide strong, unquestioning political and financial support for everything Israel does. CIJA's board members include Stockwell Day, a former senior executive at Irving Oil, and a variety of senior corporate executives and board members, as well as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Israel Defence Forces reserves.

IJV is deeply concerned about this high-level support for Mulcair's leadership bid from Canada's Israel Lobby. We believe that NDP members voting to elect a new leader should be concerned as well, as these latest revelations serve to compound the concerns already raised by previous reports from IJV , Rabble.ca , and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East .

Independent Jewish Voices is a pan-Canadian human rights organization that promotes the application of international law and respect for human rights as the basis for the resolution of the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine. While IJV is politically non-partisan, the organization seeks to ensure that our analysis is shared with those who are in a position to influence Canadian public policy. To that end, IJV is expressing its perspective on the unbalanced positions taken by one of the candidates for leader of the federal New Democratic Party with respect to this conflict.

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