This early election call by Conservative Prime Minister Harper caught Liberal Justin Trudeau with his pants down.
But more seriously for NDP Leader Mulcair, this early election call has left Mulcair and his party easily exposed to being attacked by both the federal Liberals and Conservatives as being a federal party sympathetic to anti-Semitism because the party’s key supporters – such unions as the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-Ontario) – are hateful anti-Semites.
In this federal campaign Mulcair will try to present himself as a fair-minded, competent prime minister in waiting. But he leads a party riddled with crazy, hateful whack jobs. Many of whom are virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.
Let me explain.
Recall Prime Minister Harper, in an historic speech in Israel, publicly denounced a new strain of anti-Semitism that is spreading throughout the Canadian body politic. Specifically, Harper labeled supporters and advocates of the anti-Israel BDS movement and the pernicious concept of “Israel apartheid” as anti-Semites.
As Harper so eloquently stated in his “Fire and Water” Israeli speech:
But, in much of the western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.
People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.
As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.
Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state…
It is nothing short of sickening.
Harper was not breaking new ground in his denunciation of the new anti-Semitism.
Harper was publicly espousing the EU’s working definition of anti-Semitism specifically, the EU’s Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC – superseded in 2007 by the Fundamental Rights Agency.) In 2005, the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism included the following examples:
Denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor;
Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;
In addition, then Liberal MP and former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, on behalf of the Federal Liberal party, further expanded on the new anti-Semitism which included political anti-Semitism – denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination; de-legitimization of Israel as a state (flowing from Israel apartheid rationale); attributions to Israel of all the world’s evils – and economic anti-Semitism – BDS movements and the extraterritorial application of restrictive covenants against countries trading with Israel.
Similarly, on March 1, 2010, in an open letter, Michael Ignatieff, then leader of the Federal Liberal Party, also echoed the above sentiments that describing Israel as an “apartheid state” and supporting the BDS movement against it, amount to anti-Semitism.
Ignatieff persuasively argued:
“On university campuses across the country this week, Israeli Apartheid Week will once again attempt to demonize and undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish state. It is part of a global campaign of calls for divestment, boycotts and proclamations, and it should be condemned unequivocally and absolutely.
Apartheid is defined, in international law, as a crime against humanity. Israeli Apartheid Week is a deliberate attempt to portray the Jewish state as criminal……
Let us be clear: criticism of Israeli government policy is legitimate. Wholesale condemnation of the State of Israel and the Jewish people is not legitimate. Not now, not ever.”
In addition, in 2010 the Ontario legislature with the support of all three parties unanimously condemned Israeli Apartheid Week in Ontario as “odious, hateful and inappropriate, in the case of Israel.
In sum, we have at least two major federal parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives in Ottawa and three Ontario provincial parties which consider support for “Israeli apartheid and the BDS movement” at least odious and hateful, and in some cases anti-Semitic.
Note that Mulcair and the federal NDP party have failed to equally denounce Israeli Apartheid and the BDS movement because some of the NDP’s most ardent supporters, for example, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, whom Tom Mulcair and his Ontario lieutenant Olivia Chow have publicly supported, are front and centre in the Canadian anti-Israeli “Israeli Apartheid” organization and the infamous Canadian anti-Israeli BDS movement.
In 2008 CUPW passed a resolution that the union will work “with Palestinian solidarity and human rights organizations to develop an educational campaign about the apartheid nature of the Israeli state and the political and economic support of Canada for these practices.”
The CUPW resolution also called on Israel to recognize the Palestinian people’s “right to return to their homes as stipulated in UN Resolution 194” – a demand by Palestinian negotiators that would virtually erase the Jewish state.”
Other groups that are pro Israeli Apartheid and the BDS movement, and supporters of Tom Mulcair, Olivia Chow and the NDP include the Canadian Union of Public Employees-Ontario and rabble.ca, an influential Canadian left wing online journal. Rabble.ca is published by Kim Elliott, the spouse of former NDP Deputy Leader Libby Davies who in June 2010 expressed support for the boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign against Israel. Ms. Davies is a former NDP colleague of Ms. Chow and Tom Mulcair.
It is noteworthy that in his 2009 autobiography, former Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove wrote that he was “all for” union leaders taking up activist causes, but criticized union leaders who had taken the Israel file too far:
“Now and then, someone in the labour movement makes a wrong turn or fires a salvo at the wrong target, which casts a pall over the entire movement,” he wrote. “One thing you can’t do as head of a union is to allow the most vocal, and usually most radical, minority to dominate your thinking on issues or the decision-making process.”
Olivia Chow represented the Toronto federal riding of Trinity-Spadina from 2006-2014. For many years, during that period, the University of Toronto, in her riding, hosted and celebrated the hateful Israeli Apartheid Week. Not once during that time did Chow ever publicly denounce either “Israeli Apartheid” or the anti-Israeli BDS movement.
During the 2014 Toronto mayoral race, Chow publicly supported the noxious, anti-Semitic Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) right to participate in the 2014 Toronto Pride parade, notwithstanding the principled and vehement opposition of her opponents John Tory and Doug Ford.
I am not suggesting that either Tom Mulcair or Ms. Chow is anti-Semitic or that either espouses anti-Semitic views or that either even agrees with the anti-Semitic views of the groups which support them and whom they support.
But during this federal election, it is now time for Tom Mulcair and Ms. Chow to take responsibility for their silence and to publicly denounce unequivocally the anti-Semitic positions of some of their supporters, as former CAW president Hargrove did.
Or Mr. Mulcair and Ms. Chow and the whole federal NDP Party run the risk of being tarred with the same odious brush.