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NDP Rejects Anti-IHRA Resolution, but Unfairly Targets Israel

An image from the NDP convention (CPAC)

April 11, 2021

OTTAWA – The federal New Democratic Party did not adopt a resolution that would have committed it to opposing the internationally-accepted definition of antisemitism.

However, B’nai Brith Canada remains concerned by ongoing efforts within the party to attack the Jewish State, as demonstrated by a decidedly one-sided resolution adopted yesterday during the party’s 2021 policy convention.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition has been adopted by 30 countries, including Canada, as well as the provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick, and a host of Canadian municipalities. Opponents of the definition have falsely claimed that its purpose is to limit criticism of Israel, but the definition itself explicitly states that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

In the end, the resolution attacking the IHRA Definition was not prioritized by delegates to the NDP’s national convention this weekend, meaning that it never came up for a full vote. B’nai Brith had written to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh personally in March, urging him to lead the party in rejecting attacks on the fight against antisemitism.

Unfortunately, the anti-Israel resolution that was passed (‘Justice and Peace in Israel-Palestine’) contributes neither towards justice nor towards peace. It further removes the party from any relevance in a serious discussion of “redefining Canada’s place in the world.” The resolution does nothing to contribute to a constructive Canadian role or to the prospects of a durable peace in the Middle East. Despite the positive development on IHRA, the sleight-of-hand language and deliberately vague terms found in this resolution has shifted the party towards the direction of the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – contrary to previously stated NDP policy.

“Sanity has prevailed, and a shameful attempt to manipulate the federal NDP against Canada’s Jewish community has been rightly rejected,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The IHRA Working Definition is the global standard for combating Jew-hatred, and these attempts to undermine it ultimately undermine the struggle against antisemitism itself. At the same time, the NDP has missed an opportunity to make a balanced contribution by not calling for Palestinian leaders to respect the human rights of their citizens, for an end to Palestinian attacks on Israel, for an end to Hamas’ brutal control of the Gaza Strip, and for an end to hatred and incitement against Jews and the Jewish state in Palestinian education materials.”

“Had the NDP addressed in reasoned debate what all Canadians accept as pressing human rights concerns, they would have shown they are serious about a balanced foreign policy agenda,” said Brian Herman, B’nai Brith Canada’s Director of Government Relations. “Instead, the unhealthy preoccupation with Israel continued under the guise of helping Palestinians. This extended to support among some vocal NDP members for a resolution objecting to the IHRA Definition. All of this suggests the NDP has lost its sense of balance and realism.”

To the party’s detriment, the morbid preoccupation with Israel by the NDP has overshadowed even a cursory effort to address major human rights issues challenging those who believe in democracy and freedom. This includes support for the Uyghur population of China, and taking principled positions on human rights abuses in Iran, Myanmar, Syria and Hong Kong. Even the Canadian-led global effort to protect human rights defenders and safeguard press freedoms has gone unaddressed.

Debate and voting for the so-called “Palestine Resolution” took place electronically on Saturday, meaning that observant Jews could not participate. Some delegates also complained of hate speech and harassment online while resolutions were being debated.

B’nai Brith has long battled unjustified and misleading efforts to discredit the IHRA Definition. To read our views on this issue in more detail, CLICK HERE.