Dear NDP: Stop apologizing for war crimes and breaches of human rights

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Photo: Darren Ell

We expect the NDP, in its role as the main opposition party in Ottawa, to take a strong stand regarding the ongoing assault on Palestinians in Gaza. We are extremely disappointed by the NDP's official statement and denounce it as insufficient and riddled with omissions. While paying lip service to criticizing the government, there is little that distinguishes Tom Mulcair and his official party line in any profound way from the position of the Harper government. Through its statement the NDP exposes its deep bias towards the Israeli politics of occupation and aggression, and it will have no effect on the disastrous path the Canadian government has chosen.

The list below details the basis of our judgement.    

1. Civilian deaths, destruction of homes, hospitals and schools

  • The statement bemoans that 'millions of innocent civilians have been caught in the line of fire in the Middle East, and hundreds have been killed in recent days', but it says nothing about who the innocent civilians are, namely that they are almost exclusively on the Palestinian side. It thus fails to pinpoint the disproportionate nature of Israel's actions, let alone condemn it.
  • The statement omits pointing out that amongst Palestinians killed more than 80 per cent are civilians and more than 25 per cent are children, while on the Israeli side there are three civilians killed. It furthermore omits that hundreds of thousands of Gaza Palestinians have been displaced, thousands of houses have been destroyed or damaged, including many hospitals and clinics and schools.
  • While the NDP claims to be 'deeply concerned' over the deaths, it does not call the targeting of densely populated areas by air missiles and tank shellings 'utterly unacceptable'. Instead it reserves the latter expression for the 'firing of rockets by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants'. We recognize that the indiscriminate nature of the firing of rockets violates conventions of armed conflict. But Israel's targeting of densely populated areas under the pretext that they serve to hide arms must be investigated as possible war crimes.

Photo: Darren Ell, 'Die-In' protest held August 5 at Tom Mulcair's office in Montreal

2. The right to self-defence

  • The NDP, parroting the Israeli government, proclaims that "Israel has the right to defend its citizens," while not explicitly granting the same right to the Palestinians in Gaza. Does Palestine not have the right to defend its citizens? And if so, how should they do this without an army?
  • The NDP fails to lend support to the numerous non-violent forms of resistance that are employed by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, for example, the call for boycott, divestments and sanctions (BDS) reminiscent of boycott actions against the South African apartheid regime in the 1980s, the weekly non-violent protests in Bil'in and the Palestinian government turning for help to international organizations of the UN.
  • In no way can Israel's targeting of densely populated areas and its killing of so many children be construed as self-defence. It is an act of immoral and illegal aggression. By not condemning it, the NDP turns itself into an accomplice to these reprehensible acts.
  • The NDP fails to clarify that Israel is an occupying power and that under the Fourth Geneva Convention it is Israel's obligation to protect the civilian population of Gaza.

3. The issue of a ceasefire

  • The NDP points to 'Hamas' firm rejection of an Egyptian-negotiated ceasefire', but omits that Hamas was neither consulted nor informed of this ceasefire until moments before it took effect.

4. The issue of the rockets

  • The deaths by Hamas rockets on the Israeli side, as rare as they are, consistently occur during Israeli aggressions on the Gaza strip. By ignoring these facts, the NDP not only acts as a mouthpiece for the Israeli administration, but also fails to admonish Israel for not acting with the interests of protecting its own citizens. 

Photo: Darren Ell, 'Die-In' protest held August 5 at Tom Mulcair's office in Montreal

5. Beyond the current aggression, and the question of international law 

  • Finally, the statement by the NDP entirely ignores the root causes of the ongoing violence. While it calls for 'unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance within Gaza, including food, fuel and medical treatment', it does not explicitly address the at least seven-year-long blockade on Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza do not want more humanitarian assistance; they demand the right to employment, trade and a viable economy, preconditions for a viable lasting peace.
  • The NDP fails to call on Israel to honour international law and UN resolutions regarding the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees, ending the occupation and illegal settlement expansions in the West Bank, the evictions and house demolitions directed against Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the apartheid politics and the separation barrier that Israel keeps extending into Palestinian land, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice ten years ago, in July 2004.
  • The NDP also fails to call on Israel to accept the unification government that is supported by the majority of Palestinians.
  • In the absence of these preceding points, mentioning 'Canada's long-standing support for a negotiated, two-state solution respectful of international law' is little but empty lip service. 

Our explicit demands on the NDP

1. To call for an immediate cessation of the bombing

2. To call for an immediate arms embargo on Israel

3. To call for an immediate lifting of the inhumane blockade on Gaza. Its crippling effect on the livelihood of Palestinians in Gaza forms the root cause of the armed resistance, i.e. the rockets.

4. To call on Israel to respect international law and end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and to recognize the unified Palestinian government.

It is the duty and the responsibility of the NDP, as the official opposition and the most progressive party in Parliament, to demand that our government honour human rights and international law. Israel is in violation of numerous UN resolutions and acts as a repetitive violator of international law. The NDP needs to stand up for the rights of Palestinians and to counter the appalling degree to which Canada sides with Israel, the bully, against a defenceless population. Canada should stand for a just peace in the Middle East, and the NDP must press the government to use its diplomatic efforts towards a just peace.


The affiliations indicated with some names are for identification purposes only and are not meant to signal institutional support.

Máire Noonan, linguist, McGill University, Montreal, QC

Lorraine Guay, attachée de recherche, Université de Montréal

Antoine Bustros, compositeur, Montréal, QC

David Heap, Associate Professor, UWO, ON

Jocelyne Doray, traductrice, Montréal, QC

Heather Goad, Associate Professor, McGill University

Brendan S. Gillan, Professor, McGill University, Montreal, QC

Denis Kosseim, College professor. Montreal, QC

Heather Newell, Professeure, UQÀM, Montréal, QC

Jean-Pierre Pelletier, Enseignant, poète, traducteur, Montréal, QC

Barbara Ulrich, humaniste et traductrice de profession, Montréal, QC

Sylvia Piggott, Retiree, Montreal, QC

Adrienne Hurley, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, McGill University, Montréal, QC

Rushdia Mehreen, member of BDS Quebec, Montréal, QC

Fabienne Presentey Voix juives indépendantes Mtl, Montréal, QC

Kevin A Gould, Association Professor, Dept of Geography, Planning & Environment, Concordia U, QC

Bruce Katz, Montréal, QC

Steve Jordan, Canadian citizen; Montreal, QC

Ehab Lotayef, Engineer, Montreal, QC

Eric Shragge, Retired Concordia University, Montreal, QC

Mary Ellen Davis, Montréal, QC

Mohamed Kamel, Montréal, QC

Glyne Piggott, Emeritus Professor, McGill University, Montreal, QC

Priscilla Bittar

Norma Rantisi, Professor, Concordia University, Montreal, QC

Anna Maria Di Sciullo, Professeure, UQÀM, Montréal, QC

Louise Blais, Professeure titulaire (retraitée), Université d’Ottawa, ON

Donna Patrick, Professor, Carleton University, ON

Jean-Marie Nadeau, ancien candidat NPD provincial au N.-B. et chroniqueur acadien

Jim Manly, Nanaimo, B.C.

Eva Manly, Nanaimo, B.C.

John Baxter, Courtenay, B.C.

Rosemary Baxter, Courtenay, B.C.

Diane Baxter, Courtenay, B.C.

Huberte Gautreau, Moncton

Wayne Bradley Courtenay, B.C.

Ted Rutland, Assistant Professor, Dept of Geography, Planning, & Environment, Concordia U, QC

Dimitri Lascaris, Lawyer, called to the bars of Ontario and New York State

Fran Cochran,very concerned Canadian, Vancouver Island, B.C.

Charles Reiss, Professor, Linguistics Program, Concordia University, QC

Rev. Marianna Harris, minister, United Church of Canada, Vancouver, B.C.

Rev. Steve Berube, Co-Chair, United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI)

Alan Rimmer, Educatior, Kitchener, ON

Daniela Isac, Associate Professor, Concordia University, QC

Bruce J. Partridge

May S. Partridge

Maria Gomes, Nanaimo, B.C.

Stephanie McDowall

Jase Tanner, filmmaker, lapsed NDP member, Burnaby, B.C.

Madeleine Thien, writer

Michael Keefer, Professor emeritus, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph, ON

Diane Morris, KAIROS

Carl Rosenberg, Editor, Outlook: Canada's Progressive Jewish Magazine, Vancouver, B.C.

Chris Bowers, Gabriola Island, B.C.

Dale Perkins

Jordan Gail BA, BSW, MSW

Phil Little, Retired teacher OECTA, Ladysmith, B.C.

Rabbi David Mivasair, Ahavat Olam Synagogue, rabbi emeritus, Vancouver, B.C.

Anne-Marie Brun, Kelowna Peace Group

Helen Humphreys

Jeff Tennant, Associate Professor, Department of French Studies, The University of Western Ontario

Judy Rebick, writer

Margaret Anne McHugh, Union Education Officer, Halifax, NS

Najat Rahman

Kathryn Anderson, retired United Church of Canada minister, adult educatorWilf Bean, adult educator

Rawi Hage, writer

Linda Scherzinger, Halifax, NS

Diana Ralph, Ottawa, ON

Berta Gaulke

Mary Sanderson

Sheila Haniszewska, retired teacher, Gabriola Island, B.C.

Alan Collins, Dartmouth NS, Christ Church Anglican Dartmouth, Canadians Arabs and Jews for a Just

Peace, Halifax, NS

Sara avMaat, Antigonish NS

Deena White, professeure, Université de Montréal

Myrna Wicks ,Charlottetown, PEI

Jim Wicks, Charlottetown, PEI

Charles Burns, Sechelt, BC

Karin Brothers, Toronto, member of the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel

Susan L. Eaton, Antigonish, NS

Hala Yassin, Montréal, QC

Ed Deak, Big Lake, B.C.

Marta Deak, Big Lake, B.C.

Laure Guirguis, Banting postdoctoral fellow, CÉRIUM, Dpt of political science, Université de Montréal

Sabine Friesinger

Chadi Marouf

José Garcia-Lozano, film/video technician/artist

Daniel Valois, Université de Montréal, Montréal, QC

Scott Agur, Courtenay, B.C.

Georgina Cordoba, Beaches East York

Joane Bourget inf. dans le Nunavik

Patricia Clarke, retiree, Toronto, ON

Vera Kristiansen

Debra Shogan, Professor Emeritus, Gabriola, B.C.

Ed and Marta Deak, Big Lake, B.C.

Koula Mellos, Retired Professor, University of Ottawa, ON

Sheila Fischman, Montreal, QC

Ruth Houle, Gibsons, B.C.

Jean-Marc Corbeil, Montréal, QCDr. Lisa S Price

Tony Reddin, NDP member, Bonshaw PEI

George Bartlett

Sarah Ewald, M.S.W, Professional Social Worker / Teacher, Montreal, QC.

Clément Paul, enseignant, APPM

Yvonne Zolezzi, retraitée

Hiromi Goto, writer

Mark Haley, Member, Kelowna Peace Group, Unceded Sylix Territory

Craig Taylor, Writer

Gloria Cope, Chemainus, B.C.

Roberto Miguelez, MSRC, Professeur émérite, Dépt. de sociologie et d'anthropologie, Université


Andrew Forster, Montreal, QC

Michel Seymour, professeur de philosophie, Université de Montréal, QC

Stéphane Thellen, Cégep du Vieux Montréal

Anne-Marie Voisard, professeure, Cégep de Saint-Laurent

Jessica Squires

Kathy Copps

Patrick Maloney

Wasmaa Turky

Iana Kanaan

Gila Avni

Annalise Mathias

Farah Khan

David Parnas

Stewart Brown

Julie McBrearty

Sadia Jama

Jeffrey Kugler

Joel Trupin

Jo Wood

David Zelman

Yannos Roussos

Sadaf Rahman

Merv NicholsonHanna Cora

Rosalind Boyd

Mira Khazzam

Helga Mankovitz

Grant Roedding

Idrisa Pandit

Carol Trainor

Jay Armistead

Vivia Kay

Valentina Capurri

Jill Abson

Sam Cosentino

Ron Strand

Elizabeth-Anne Malischewski

Karen Kurtzrock

Hugh Jordan

Susan Natsheh

Hedy Muysson

Nayyar Razvi

Serge Proulx

Louise Woychesko

Yedida Zalik

Dawn Waring

Carrie Zadrazil

Troy Troyer

Eryl Court

Scott Weinstein

Abby Lippman

Mergler Donna

Jason Forbes

Katharine Cukier

Don Schmidt

Stan Hendrickx

Michaël Séguin

Serge Proulx

Salem Tajeddine

Dr. Sharon Baltman

Christina Duvander

Helene B

charlotte Weisberg

Bertha MacBain

Jamal Hmidan

Heidrun Fiebig

David Weller

Oonagh Berry

Linda Forsythe

George Neville

Jody Perrin

Amanda B

Jess B

Renata Militzer

Stephane Jaques

Mina Kulasic

Cécile Sabourin

Esther Robitaille

Evelyn Traveller

Ira Silverstein

Mojca Pertot

Denise Drabkin

Margaret Rao

Don and Clare Vipond

William Tamblyn

Linda Sauras

Maria Heynen

Madiha N

Yousef Shaath

Fotini Lionis

Cathleen Kneen

Maria Cal

Sarah MewaBruce Holtom

Wajib Jabali

Mohamad Elmasri

Parsifal Satori

Frances Combs

Bruce Campbell

Sandy Bauer, Vancouver, B.C.

Ted Siverns, Langley B.C.

Anne Farquharson, member of UNJPPI the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine/Israel

Hassan Husseini, Labour Activist, Ottawa

A. Jean Macdonald, retired public servant living in B.C.

Shannon Walsh, Filmmaker

The Reverend Margaret Sagar, Minister, United Church of Canada

The Reverend Alan Sagar, priest, Anglican Church of Canada

Brian Fisher

Randa Farah, Associate Professor, UWO

Chantal Carrière, Montreal, QC

Sonia Gauthier, professeure, UdeM

Véronica Ponce, Collège Marianopolis

Samira Louni, ex-candidate du NPD 2008 dans Bourassa

Daphne Marlatt, poet, B.C.

John C Warkentin, PhD, former faculty member at Lakehead University

All photos courtesy of Darren Ell

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