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Parliamentary debate on BDS missed the point

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Tony Clement, who somehow missed his calling as a high school Vice Principal, introduced a motion in parliament calling on the government to condemn the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, also known as "BDS." He and others characterized it as an anti-Semitic movement, one supported by thousands of apparently anti-Semitic Jewish people. But support for BDS isn't anti-Semitic any more than support for Saudi Arabian women is anti-Muslim, or support for First Nations is anti-hockey.

BDS is a non-violent movement (don't confuse it with the punk band Break Destroy Smash, that's the violent BDS). And what's amazing is that a lot of official Canadian policy, even under Harper, is in total harmony with the demands of BDS. They both believe the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and settlements there, are illegal, and both want rights and a state for Palestinians.

The difference is the Canadian government thinks the best way to change Israel's criminal behaviour is to ignore it, while the BDS movement is trying something that might actually work: punishing it.

The narrow debate in the House of Commons treated it as a given that Israel is a peaceful democracy. But a democracy doesn't rule over a group of people who aren't allowed to vote. And a peaceful democracy doesn't use cluster bombs against civilians, or repeatedly kill UN peacekeepers. And that points to the real danger of the BDS movement. It threatens to change the story of Israel from a poor little nuclear power that just wants peace, to a story that actually reflects reality. 

This video originally appeared in The Toronto Star

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