Criticism of Israel is something that "today's NDP" takes very seriously indeed: so seriously that a purge of candidates now seems to be underway. Their crime? To speak up for the human rights of Palestinians.
After the recent roasting of a Palestinian toddler by Israeli settlers (no arrests to date, just a round-up of the Usual Suspects and a lot of talk), one might have expected a party with a strong human rights record to speak out. Nope. OK, it's an election campaign, and the calculus of victory includes giving as little offence as possible to wavery electors. But the NDP High Command is going further -- much further.
It began last year, when Paul Manly, the son of former NDP MP Jim Manly and an NDP activist since he was eight years old, was not even permitted to run for the party's candidacy in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. He had spoken up for the suffering and destitute people of Gaza. That was too much for the NDP High Command.
I said at the time that the mould was truly on the orange at that point, and predicted it would spread. It has.
Two candidates have been disappeared so far. One is Morgan Wheeldon, who was running for the NDP in Kings-Hants. He "resigned" (not really) after it came to light that he disapproved of Israel's ethnic cleansing policies. He was referring to the West Bank, but he could have included East Jerusalem and the on-going expulsion of Bedouins from the South Negev in Israel proper.
This sort of thing is indeed a "war crime," precisely as Wheeldon said. But the NDP High Command immediately dropped the hammer. "Our position on the conflict in the Middle East is clear, as Tom Mulcair expressed clearly in the debate," said apparatchik Brad Lavigne. "Mr. Wheeldon's comments are not in line with that policy and he is no longer our candidate."
"Clear," eh? Well, becoming more so, I guess.
Also axed was Clyde River Mayor Jerry Natanine, who wanted to run as the NDP candidate in Nunavut. But Tweets supporting Palestinian human rights came to light. In Natanine's own words, "I often side with the Palestinians because of all the hardship they are facing and because nothing is being re-built over there."
Apparently the NDP High Command thought that might be construed as anti-Semitic. Yes, seriously. It has come to this.
There are other candidates who have incautiously defended the human rights of Palestinians in the past, and who may yet disappear down the orange memory hole. How long will Hans Marotte last, for example? He's being duly investigated as of this writing by B'nai Brith and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. Ulp. Then there's David McLaren (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound), whose sin, apparently, is to refuse to support either side of the Middle East conflict.
Up to now I've been supporting the NDP in the run-up to October 19, even though I quit the party last year over the Manly mess. Now...I dunno. Yes, we have to get rid of Harper: that's imperative. No, young Justin would just give us more of the same, with different clothes and hairstyle. That pretty well leaves the NDP. But at what point do we progressives have to start listening to our consciences?