by Barry Weisleder
When the convention of the Green Party of Canada adopted a resolution in early August that advocates Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel, it simultaneously put BDS on the mainstream Canadian political agenda, and applied enormous pressure on the labour-based New Democratic Party to do the same.
Leader and sole Green Party (GP) member of Parliament, Elizabeth May, immediately threatened to resign over the motion. But when she saw that her attempt at blackmail wouldn’t kill the policy, she pivoted – instead asking her party to re-visit the motion, with a view towards rescinding it eventually. May’s manouvers, seeking to appease the Canadian corporate and political elite, reveal much about the bourgeois, undemocratic nature of the GP and its leadership.
Ironically, the image of the GP on BDS is rather overblown. The approved resolution itself is quite narrow and limited. It targets only “those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation” of the West Bank, and only “until such time as Israel implements a permanent ban on further settlement construction…. and enters into good faith negotiations with representatives of the Palestinian people for the purpose of establishing a viable, contiguous and truly sovereign Palestinian state.”
In other words, it advocates a two-state, bantustan-type ‘solution’, in which some Palestinians would be prisoners inside a weak, surrounded and impoverished statelet. The policy excludes a general economic boycott of the oppressor state and economy. The occupation of the West Bank would continue; most Palestinians abroad would still be denied the right of return; and the apartheid wall would remain as a militarized barrier to freedom.
Nonetheless, the GP policy (at least for the time being) “opposes all efforts to prohibit, punish or otherwise deter expressions of support for BDS”. This welcome stance comes at a time when the Conservative Party seeks to outlaw the boycott, which enjoys significant support internationally, including from unions across Canada. It follows the declaration by the Justin Trudeau Liberal government that defends the right to advocate BDS, while it vigorously opposes the actual boycott and staunchly backs the Zionist state – a position shamefully echoed by the Tom Mulcair NDP leadership.
But change is in the air. As shown by the debate in the GP, coupled with the trend in global public opinion, and the growing desperation of Israel backers, support for self-determination for Palestine continues to break down barriers.