NDP youth speak out on Gaza: 'It's time to call a spade a spade'

| August 1, 2014
photo credit: Mohammed Saber/EPA

An ocean away from Palestine, Canadians have watched on in absolute horror as the death toll continues to mount. In three short weeks, hundreds of people in Gaza, a majority of them civilians, have been wiped out at the discretion of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Anger, disbelief, outrage -- we've felt these emotions before. We watched in horror as the U.S. dropped thousands of bombs on Iraq, we marched in the streets to protest NATO's brutal occupation of Afghanistan and we've reacted with vile disgust at Russia's cruel and bloody invasion of Ukraine. That is because as a nation we feel the pain of global conflict first hand: through the sacrifice of our own young women and men abroad, and through the incredible resilience of the many refugees fleeing these very conflicts, coming to Canada to seek a more just life.

If we are to live up to the standards of peace and tolerance that we've set for ourselves domestically, on a global scale, it is our responsibility to call for restraint and seek mediation whenever war rears it's ugly head. In our short lifetime we've witnessed the same violent scene repeated time and time again, so we ask: how is this situation any different?

As the next generation, we are destined to inherit incredible political, environmental and logistical challenges. For us, the past 21 days have been deeply disheartening, as we now see that we are also destined to inherit a more violent world. And it isn't only because Stephen Harper has proven himself (yet again) to be incompetent at representing Canada on the world stage but rather, also due to the hesitation from our Official Opposition when it comes to standing up for New Democratic values on this issue.

With respect to the current situation in Gaza, there can be no question: the NDP has been open about its desire to see hostilities cease from both sides in this conflict. Hamas must stop firing rockets indiscriminately at civilians, and so must the IDF.

But on the question of Palestine, let's be clear:

Section 4.1 (f) of the 2013 NDP Policy Book states that the NDP supports "working with partners for peace in Israel and Palestine, respecting UN resolutions and international law, supporting peaceful co­existence in viable, independent states with agreed­upon borders, an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and an end to violence targeting civilians."

These resolutions include those that call for the withdrawal from occupied territories during the 1967 war [1], the legitimacy of the struggle for liberation from foreign domination by all available means [2], condemnation of governments that don't recognize the right to self determination and independence of peoples under foreign domination[3], and more recently, the upgrade of Palestine to a nonmember state of the United Nations [4].

We demand a fair approach be taken with the situation in Gaza, one that adheres to the above mentioned United Nations resolutions, among many others. As citizens of the world we owe it to each other to admit that no state can ever achieve security through force of arms. If terror groups are to be rendered irrelevant, and the growth of extremism stemmed, then we must address the root cause of the violence, not its symptoms.

It is time for Canadians to know where the NDP stands on this issue: as the only party that seeks a comprehensive and viable solution on agreed upon borders, that guarantees the security of both Israeli and Palestinian citizens to co-­exist in peace.

That is why New Democrats should never shy away from condemning the slaughter of civilians, no matter where it happens, or who perpetrates the act. That is why we agree with independent groups like Jewish Voices for Peace, who have called for an end to the bombing of Gaza, and for Israel to be held accountable for its actions [5].

We must further acknowledge that in the almost 20 years since the Oslo Peace Accords, the situation on the ground in Palestine has deteriorated so badly that it is nearly impossible to imagine a contiguous two­state solution based on the 1967 borders­ at least without serious land concessions from existing settlements.

Our government's inaction and paralysis on the world stage is our shame to wear. By providing unflinching political cover for the Israeli state, we enable a situation where it is likely that much of the West Bank [6] will be annexed, and the erosion of Palestinian lands that started so many years ago will be complete.

That is, unless we finally elect a government that believes that upholding human rights and working to create lasting peace should be primary goals of a just foreign policy.

New Democratic Youth of Canada



[1] United Nations Security Council Resolution S/RES/242 22 Nov 1967

[2] United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/3246 (XXIX) 29 Nov 1974

[3] United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 29 Nov 1978

[4] United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/67/19 4 Dec 2012

[5] Jewish Voices for Peace: End the Bombing. Hold Israel Accountable July 2014

[6] The West Bank was divided into areas A, B, and C during the Oslo II accords. Area C has been under Israeli civil and military control. It accounts for a majority of the territory of the West Bank Map of Area C, Retrieved from NPR.org "Palestinians fear new Israeli moves in West Bank" 30 Jul 2012

photo credit: Mohammed Saber/EPA



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