A recent post on World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) draws attention to the failure of Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP) to "denounce the murderous assault being carried out by the Israeli government" in Gaza:
Over the past two weeks, Thomas Mulcair, the head of the NDP and the leader of the Official Opposition in parliament, and Paul Dewar, the NDP foreign affairs critic, have refused to oppose Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s full-throated support for the Israeli onslaught [in Gaza].
The article notes that Mulcair's stance on the Gaza conflict has drawn kudos from at least one columnist on the vociferously pro-Israel National Post. The nod from the right is no surprise. Mulcair's position on Israel goes along with the neoliberal makeover of the NDP that has put distance between the party and its one-time socialist leanings. Symbolic of this ideological shift was the vote at a party convention last year to remove references to socialism from the party's constitution.
The title of a Yves Engler article makes the point that the "N" in NDP "now stands for Neoliberal." The NDP has effectively joined the club, so not surprisingly its response to Israel's massacre in Gaza is pretty much indistinguishable from the weasel language of "balance" we've been hearing a lot of on MSM lately - language that conveniently overlooks the massive power disparity between the Israeli military and Hamas resistance.
It's notable that Mulcair described rockets fired into Israel - most neutralized by the Iron Dome or off-target - as "utterly unacceptable" but has been less outspoken about the use of sophisticated modern weaponry to obliterate the homes and lives of innocent Palestinian women and children. A few pundits have reasonably asked if Mulcair is just another Harper with a beard.
The WSWS piece directs pointed criticism at the statement by NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar:
In his statement... [Paul Dewar] carefully avoided any specific condemnation of Israel’s targeting and killing of civilians, including women and children, and covered up the fact that the assault on Gaza is transparently a long-planned act of Israeli aggression, with last month’s murder of three Israeli youth—an act Hamas has always insisted it had nothing to do with—serving as no more than a convenient pretext.
Earlier this week, NDP leader Mulcair weighed into the discussion in a similar vein. He refused to oppose the Israeli assault, even if, to use his words, it has “already caused too many civilian casualties", but denounced “the firing of rockets by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants at civilian populations” as “utterly unacceptable”. Mulcair’s stance earned him praise from the neo-conservative, rabidly pro-Zionist National Post. “The current round of hostilities in Gaza suggest a New Democratic Party that has matured,” declared Post columnist John Ivison.
The article includes an excerpt from an "Open Letter to the NDP" by the human rights organization Independent Jewish Voices. IJV takes on the NDP's position on Gaza with an eye to detail. The letter reflects the outrage felt by many Canadians in the face of Israel's brutal campaign of collective punishment.
I'm including an extended excerpt from the IJV letter because it's an important statement. Bear in mind that it dates from earlier in the month so the figures of Palestinian dead cited are much lower than the current figures.
Independent Jewish Voices:
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."Read the entire open letter - here.
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.
Mulcair has made statements that have essentially boxed him into a corner when it comes to assessing and responding to Israel's conduct in an objective light. The following paragraph in the WSWS article sums up Mulcair's compromised position:
Mulcair has professed a slavish loyalty to the aggressive policies of the Israeli state, famously declaring in 2008, “I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances”. In 2010 Mulcair joined with the Conservatives and the Liberals to smear “Israeli Apartheid Week”–a pro-Palestinian campaign mounted on dozens of Canadian university campuses–as “anti-semitic”.
For the article in full link here.