Dear New Democratic Party of Canada,
As fellow Canadians who are concerned with human rights, we call on you to condemn Israel’s murderous bombing campaign on the defenceless population of Gaza.
Since Tuesday, July 8, Israel has killed over 190 Palestinians in Gaza, including more than 25 children, in addition to wounding over 1,000 people, most of them innocent civilians. Israel’s artillery has destroyed crucial infrastructure for water, sewage and electricity, and countless families’ homes. During this same period, Hamas rockets have not caused a single Israeli death or serious injury nor damaged important Israeli infrastructure. While Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of rockets onto civilian areas must be condemned, of far greater significance are the Palestinian deaths from Israeli rocket attacks.
The majority of Gaza’s population — roughly 80 per cent — are Palestinians who were expelled from their homes leading up to and directly after Israel’s declaration of independence. Israel was founded on the violent dispossession of over 750,000 Palestinians, whose removal was needed in order for Israel to obtain a Jewish-demographic majority, and hence label itself as both “Jewish and democratic.”
Palestinians in Gaza live under a military occupation, since Israel maintains effective control over Gaza’s borders through a blockade by land, sea and air. While Israel’s military occupation of Gaza dates back to June of 1967, its blockade has been going on for over seven years. The blockade, a blatant and illegal form of collective punishment, has been condemned rightfully by the NDP. It was imposed on the Palestinians by Israel as formal retribution for electing a government that refuses to recognize Israel’s violent theft of Palestinian land, and Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestine.
We are chagrined that the NDP has yet to speak out against Israel’s bombing of civilians in Gaza. These are war crimes, since it is clear that Israel has used its precision-guided missiles to target families’ homes, hospitals, schools, ambulances, and even a centre for disabled children. The horrific images coming out of Gaza should elicit strong and immediate condemnation from any individual or organization that is concerned about human rights.
Why then, we are wondering, has the NDP failed to condemn these atrocities? Since Israel’s bombing of Gaza began last Tuesday, the NDP has failed to release any formal statement condemning the massacres that the bombing has caused. While we appreciate the NDP’s call — despite coming after a week of Israeli bombings — for a ceasefire, we are deeply disturbed by the NDP’s language in this statement.
In the statement, foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar states that the NDP “have reiterated that Hamas’ continued rocket attacks are unacceptable. We have also voiced our deep concern regarding the escalating violence and reports of civilian deaths.” It appears that while the NDP considers Hamas’ ineffective rockets to be “unacceptable,” Israel’s world-class rockets — that have killed at least 25 children — cannot even be mentioned, nor can the national identity of the civilians who have been killed.
The statement also calls for “restraint” from both sides, without explaining how the babies Israel is killing in their sleep should show restraint. How should hospitals, schools, ambulances, and unarmed families that Israel is bombing indiscriminately show restraint? It is time for real restraint in using this kind of misleading false equivalence that is totally disconnected from the reality of Israel’s massacres against the people of Gaza.
We are absolutely appalled that the NDP has yet to release a statement condemning Israel’s bombing of Palestinian civilians, and expressing condolences to the Palestinian people and to the thousands of Palestinian-Canadians whose family members in Gaza have been maimed, killed, and made homeless by Israel’s bombings. Paul Dewar issued a statement “on behalf of all New Democrats” expressing condolences for the passing of Ariel Sharon, a former Israeli general, Defence Minister, and Prime Minister who was directly responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent civilians (while failing to condemn his legacy of terror), but the NDP has yet to offer condolences for the killing of over 190 Palestinians, the majority of whom are innocent civilians.
As Jewish-Canadians, we want to be absolutely clear that conservative organizations supporting these war crimes and claiming to represent Canada’s diverse Jewish communities do not speak on our behalf. If the NDP were to follow its conscience and support justice and peace in Israel and Palestine — against the interests of Canada’s Israel lobby groups — we would stand with you in solidarity and support. Canada’s Israel lobby groups represent the Netanyahu government’s racist policies of colonization and apartheid, which can only lead to further bloodshed. It is up to the NDP, as official opposition, to oppose Netanyahu’s and Harper’s positions, and stand with the majority of Canadians in support of international law and the human rights of all parties.
With hope for justice and peace,
Independent Jewish Voices – Canada