The Communist Party of Canada condemns the February 22 vote in Parliament, in which the Liberals and Conservatives joined forces to pass a shameful motion denouncing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s apartheid policies. The motion also condemns anyone in Canada who supports or promotes BDS. The Communist Party reaffirms its longstanding and unwavering solidarity with the people of Palestine, its condemnation of Israeli apartheid, and its support for the BDS campaign in Canada and internationally.
The BDS campaign began in 2005, in response to a call from 171 Palestinian groups for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel. A similar campaign emerged in the 1980s, as a way to isolate and pressure apartheid South Africa. Both campaigns cited violations of United Nations’ resolutions and international law as part of their legal and moral justification.
The objectives of the BDS campaign are straightforward, just and entirely based on international law:
• Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the separation Wall;
• Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
• Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
Just as Parliament’s motion condemns BDS activists, people who acted in solidarity with opponents of the racist South African regime were denounced as “terrorist supporters” by right-wing politicians. Parliament’s vote is a disgraceful attempt to silence the growing BDS movement through slander and political intimidation. It is an act of desperation that will fail, just the racist attempts to derail the struggle against South African apartheid failed.
The fact that most Liberal MPs supported this Tory motion proves that the Trudeau government cannot be judged on the basis of its progressive campaign promises. The working class and people of Canada must hold the Liberals to account as they “govern from the right.”
This includes international issues such as the expanding war in Iraq and Syria, the sale of weaponized vehicles to Saudi Arabia, and support for regimes in Ukraine and Israel which trample on human rights. It is encouraging that the NDP and Bloc Quebecois caucuses voted against the motion, on the basis that it violates the rights to free speech and expression. However, it is shameful that NDP MPs also attacked the BDS movement during the Commons debate, revealing yet again that party’s racist opposition to criticism of apartheid Israel.
The Communist Party rejects the right-wing charge that the BDS campaign is a form of antisemitism. Opposition to Israeli apartheid is focused firmly and solely on the policies of the Israeli government, not on the ethnicity or nationality of those who perpetrate those policies. The Communist Party condemns antisemitism, racism, national chauvinism and all forms of oppression. It is our ongoing commitments to ending oppression and achieving national equality that guide our solidarity with Palestine and our support for the BDS campaign.
The strongest response is to build the BDS campaign across Canada. We congratulate the students at McGill University who also voted on February 22, to support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel’s apartheid policies. The February 22 vote was preceded by heavy criticism and opposition from peace, human rights, labour and progressive activists across the country. These groups organized several campaigns that included petitions, letter writing, online actions, and joint statements. In Quebec, a coalition including BDS Quebec, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, the FTQ (QFL) and CSN (CNTU) unions publicly called for the Liberal government to reject the Tory motion.
These and other acts of solidarity, in defiance of Parliament’s racist motion, are the basis for a more powerful BDS movement, capable of winning more victories in Canada and internationally.
Palestine will be free!
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada
March 1, 2016