Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) has launched a video to challenge Thomas Mulcair’s positions on Israel and Palestine. According to IJV, Mr. Mulcair’s leadership campaign represents an electoral coalition with Canada’s Israel Lobby.

Lorne Nystrom, the national co-chair of Mr. Mulcair’s leadership campaign and a former long-time NDP MP, is likely familiar to many who follow federal politics. However, many NDP members may not be aware that Nystrom currently sits on the board of this country’s major pro-Israel lobby group, which actively campaigns in support of the Israeli government’s inhumane and repressive policies towards Palestinian and other non-Jewish citizens.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is Canada’s umbrella Israel Lobby group (also known as AIPAC North). While it claims to be the “official” voice of Jews in Canada, IJV Canada believes that CIJA doesn’t represent Jewish interests, but rather the interests of the rich one percent who self-interestedly dominate the Israeli economy.

It is deeply troubling that Nystrom sits on the board of one of the most reactionary organizations in Canada, with some of the leading apologists for Israel’s violations of international law including former Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day. The choice of Nystrom as a campaign co-chair is a clear reflection of Mr. Mulcair’s self-professed unwavering support for “Israel… in all circumstances.

As has been noted by IJV and others, a broad range of CIJA and other Israel Lobby leaders (including billionaire Gerry Schwartz) have donated to Mulcair’s campaign. Given CIJA’s vocal support for policies like Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza, this raises the question whether Mulcair would try to align NDP policy on the issue with Israel, rather than international law.

IJV is a non-partisan organization and is not endorsing any candidate in the NDP leadership race. However, this information raises serious concerns about what direction Mulcair would take the party if he were to win the leadership race. An independent voice in federal politics on the issue of Israel-Palestine is urgently needed, especially in light of the unflinching political support for Israel from Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Bob Rae.

Independent Jewish Voices is urging NDP members not to vote for Mr. Mulcair in the current leadership race.

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