Since the Israeli Defence Forces invaded the Gaza Strip on July 8th, the death toll has passed 1,500 people, the vast majority of them civilians. As members of Solidarity Halifax, we have been reacting in horror as Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip continues to kill, injure, and displace Palestinians. We are not able to say the same of our Canadian political parties.
The governing Conservatives have shamefully acted as Israel’s biggest cheerleader while the third party Liberals have sung backup in an equally uncritical support of Israeli aggression. Concerned citizens -Canadians, Arabs, Jews, and more- have been mobilizing to hold the Israeli government and its supporters to account. To our disappointment, these concerned citizens demanding a just peace have not found political support from the official opposition New Democratic Party.
The NDP has frustrated its supporters by refusing to name, let alone condemn Israeli aggression. The party has called for a ceasefire, but has not called for an end to the blockade and occupation of Gaza that is the very reason that a Palestinian resistance movement is necessary. NDP members have dissented against this silence, including a one-day occupation of Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar’s office and a statement from the New Democratic Youth of Canada. Today, Solidarity Halifax is calling on the NDP to stand with social movements across Canada and the world in calling for a just peace in Palestine, and to not stand on the side of imperialism.
The occupation of Palestine is part of a broader strategy to secure Western interests in the Middle East, including access to oil and markets. Capitalist imperialism will stop of nothing short of the total elimination of the Palestinian people in its quest for ever-growing profits.
On July 29th, a UN bomb shelter in the Jabiliya Elementary Girl’s School was shelled by Israeli tanks, killing 19. The UN and even the US condemned Israel’s war crime, yet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper openly lied by blaming Hamas for the attack. Human Rights Watch then criticized Canadian Foreign minister John Baird for his comment that “Hamas will be solely to blame for any further loss of life,” saying Mr. Baird’s comments amounted to a “green light for more unlawful Israeli attacks that kill civilians.” And on August 3rd, another UN shelter in Rafah was shelled by the IDF killing 10 Palestinians.
If the NDP supports human rights, justice, dignity and peace for Palestinians, it must provide immediate political support to Palestinians and their allies in civil society. As members of Solidarity Halifax, we are picketing at the office of NDP Deputy Leader Megan Leslie to call on the NDP to do the following:
-Issue a statement specifically condemning Israeli aggression against civilians by shelling UN shelters at Jabiliya and Rafah.
-Condemn Stephen Harper for lying to Canadians in order to cover for Israeli crimes in the shelling of the Jabiliya UN shelter.
-Sign and promote NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice’s petition calling for an end to Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.