The NDP need to stand up for what is right and not give in to the Israel lobby’s bully tactics. Two resolutions being proposed at the upcoming NDP convention are integral to the NDP’s being an anti-racist and anti-colonial party. If you are an NDP convention delegate or know any delegates, please rank both resolution 4-10-20 (“Justice and Peace in Israel-Palestine”) and resolution 4-11-20 (“Opposing the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism”) highly in the prioritization process, and also vote for them.
A small group of Jewish members of the NDP has tried to prevent resolution 04-11-20 from being debated at the convention, claiming that only the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism is acceptable and they are the only ones capable of defining antisemitism. A much larger group of over 60 Jewish NDP members replied supporting resolution 4-11-20 (“Opposing the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism”) and calling for it to be ranked highly in today’s prioritization process.
Resolution 4-11-20 was approved by over 45 electoral district associations (EDAs), labour councils and unions because the IHRA definition is highly problematic. The IHRA definition and its examples equate criticism of Israel — especially its treatment of Palestinians — with antisemitism. For example, the Israel lobby has called NDP MP Charlie Angus “antisemitic” because he tweeted that Palestinians needed fair access to the COVID-19 vaccine. And it allows Noah Tepperman to call Jewish New Democrats with a different opinion from his antisemitic “tokens.”
The IHRA definition is controversial among Jews because it enables oppression. EKOS polling shows that 34 per cent of Canadian Jews agree that criticism of Israel should not be labelled antisemitic. Among Jews who support the NDP, this proportion is even higher, of course.
Grassroots members and EDAs have asked for meaningful, vigorous debate on this resolution, which is what the NDP needs and what we will get by ranking it highly in the prioritization process. The Tepperman letter instead tries to curtail debate by interfering in the convention process.
While today’s prioritization and this resolution are important, this issue is bigger than the NDP convention. The IHRA lobby in Canada has also been clear about their intentions to use the IHRA definition against progressives. It is very clear that CIJA is not acting in good faith. While claiming to speak for most Canadian Jews, in fact CIJA speaks for a specific, narrow band in the wide spectrum of opinion in our community. CIJA uses its multi-million dollar budget to employ dozens of staffers to pass their agenda off as representative of a diverse community with a wide range of views on Israel, Zionism and many other issues.
Time and again, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and its allies have shown their intent to use the IHRA definition to conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism to silence the necessary discourse around Israel’s pervasive oppression of Palestinians.
We urge all NDP delegates today to highly prioritize the two resolutions which will bring our party’s policy into alignment with its vision and values as an anti-racist and anti-colonial party: 04-10-20 and 04-11-20.
Sara Rans is a New Democrat (London North Centre), a delegate to the convention and a member of the Independent Jewish Voices – London Chapter.
Rabbi David Mivasair is an active member of Independent Jewish Voices and a delegate to the NDP convention from Hamilton Centre.
Sam Hersh is a New Democrat (Ottawa Centre) and a member of IJV and a delegate to the NDP convention.