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Lifting the curtain behind the BDS motion

Dave Gordon - Thursday, 25 February, 2016

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In its first domestic act to stand by Israel, Canada’s newly-elected Liberal government recently helped pass a Conservative-led motion to denounce the Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

As York Centre Liberal MP Michael Levitt explained in Parliament, the condemnation of BDS serves the purpose of speaking out against the 3Ds: delegitimization, demonization and double standards (attributed to Israeli author/politician Natan Sharansky).

One should not, after all, tolerate intolerance.

Surely, for example, if a wave of anti-Aboriginal sentiment swept across the country, on campuses, churches and professional organizations, the Canadian government should stand firm against it.

Similarly, if there was a wave of anti-Aboriginal boycott, unfairly and singularly targeting Aboriginals, no sane government official would urge tolerance and goodwill towards the boycotters.

Except something different occurred here.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion urged tolerance and goodwill - towards the boycotters.

In critiquing the motion, he said:

“[W]e will not convince them of their error by banging them on the head, by hitting them with condemnations of all types, by intimidation, or by invectives. We have to speak to them with respect.”

That was a straw man argument – debating a premise that never existed - since no one advocated for, or indulged in, disrespect, invective and so on.

As one commenter on the Canadian Jewish News’ website aptly said: “The BDSers must be respected, but the Conservatives are bullies for criticizing BDS?”

“[M]ost of the organizations and individuals supporting the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement are doing so in good faith,” Dion continued.

Everyone believes they act in good faith. Even Hamas. I have yet to find an organization that believes they’re acting in bad faith. That is why we measure people not on intentions, but on actions and words.

But that didn’t stop Dion from purporting to have a looking glass into the heads of the Conservatives: “we [Liberals] are well aware that its [the motion’s] purpose is to create division.”

Create division? Between whom? In actual fact, Justin Trudeau’s stated position isn’t so divided from the Conservatives’ in this regard.

BDS, he wrote last year, is “something we have to take a firm stand against.” In an interview with the Canadian Jewish News, he was unequivocal of his condemnation of BDS.

Just prior to the election, he said:

We abhor and fight BDS the targeting of Israel at the UN and all other examples of the new anti-Semitism and efforts to isolate Israel”. [More here]

Strangely, taking “a firm stand against” and to “fight” BDS also means having the Minister of Foreign Affairs rebuke the anti-BDS motion as near-ridiculous.

Yet this should surprise no one.

Stephane Dion could not even bring himself to outright condemn terror attacks against Israelis.

Indeed, in response to Peter Kent’s recent question if the Liberals would condemn the latest murder of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists, Dion instead shifted the topic to humanitarian aid.

Along the same vein, Justin Trudeau gave a feeble response to Conservative leader Rona Ambrose’s question why Canada is offering $15 million to UNRWA - with proven ties to Hamas – who spare no effort to murder innocent Israelis.

Trudeau’s answer could be distilled as “re-engaging with the world in a constructive way” and disparaging Conservatives’ “canceling [the funding] for political reasons”.

Hardly the steadfast support for Israel – promised as indistinguishable from the Conservatives - we were assured on the campaign trail.

While the Trudeau government has insisted they are a friend of Israel, we learn that standing by Israel, in the Liberal sense, has a very liberal definition.


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