Why I voted against the Green Party BDS policy resolution.

See this despicable cartoon attached to my post? 
I didn't scrape it off some bottom-of-the-internet hate site, this was on the progressive World Social Forum which was happening in Montreal this last weekend.

Those particular workshops were condemned of course, and later cancelled and pulled from the website— but I think it is important to call out that kind of hate where and when we see it. The fact that it was approved as a committee/workshop and allowed to fester on a progressive website as long as it did? Nobody should be ok with this kind of thing, least of all progressives advocating for human rights. 

I wanted to give context to one of the reasons why I didn't support the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) of Israel policy resolution voted on at the Green Party of Canada's biannual convention, which quite coincidentally also took place this last weekend, in Ottawa. 

I'm not suggesting that the GPC members and BDS supporters behind this motion are racist, or wouldn't be offended by the cartoon —but I won’t sugar coat the idea that there isn’t a growing, ugly undercurrent out there of manipulation, and racism, and intolerance. The rise in (((Anti-Semitism))) and Islamophobia even in progressive circles is a tone eerily similar to the type of xenophobic rhetoric we’re hearing from Trump supporters, European nationalists, Brexiters, and the like.

When as Greens we formalize support for a position that polarizes around an issue of race, ethnicity, and nationalism we are traveling a dangerous path.

I didn’t attend the convention, nor am I especially active in the Green Party of Canada, but as a member I voted online some weeks before.

As someone who has run for political office (twice) under “Green” banners —though not the GPC specifically— I feel I should be clear where I stand. 

I support a two state solution. 

I support a free, safe, just, and self-determined nation state for Palestine.

I support a free, safe, just, and self-determined nation state for Israel.

I support non-violence as a means to acheive those goals, as I do not support the status quo as it is now.

But I can't support the motion passed at the GPC convention in support of BDS movement. 

I have studied the BNC and the BDS movement, the actual implications of BDS, as well as the positions of Palestinians and others like Noam Chomsky who reject the movement (while still being critical of Israel).

The BDS movement has a specific stated agenda: The BDS movement calls for a boycott of all Israeli products.

The GPC policy motion may couch support of BDS in language like: “targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation" —but that language is entirely subjective and utterly meaningless in its lack of specifics, as well as being inconsistent with the stated goals of the BDS movement. While I don't condone the actions of any belligerents in the Israel-Palestine conflict, I do not think that the BDS movement offers a realistic roadmap to a lasting peace and security in the region.

 

Details from FAQ page of BDSmovement.net
    Screenshot from BDSmovement.net FAQ page

 

So I reject this GPC policy statement for a myriad of reasons: first and foremost because it is guided by the mandate of an outside political organization, and not the least of which because the motion is poorly written. 

This policy statement lacks the balance and respect for diversity we expect as Greens. This policy statement lacks the context to acknowledge progressive Israeli and Palestinians working towards consensus and peace, or what any targeted boycotts might look like. This policy statement doesn’t explicitly acknowledge and distinguish between complex and nuanced issues of history, racial/religious identity and government. This policy statement lacks the sophistication to specifically consider Canada’s own direct role in Israel’s military-industrial-complex, the ultimate consequences of further squeezing Israel into a nationalist and defensive position and destabilizing a democracy in an already destabilized region, or the implications of abdicating party policy to an outside organization.

In my opinion, our objectives should be determined by the Green Party, not the BDS movement, and our methods to reach those goals should reflect that iteratively and clearly.

For the GPC to take policy directions from another political organization (the BDS movement) is as undemocratic as it is untenable, and clearly it is proving to be incredibly divisive.

I will suggest that as a party we are right to uphold progressive values of human and civil rights, equality, and social justice for everone —regardless of ethnic/religious identity, national origin, colour, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Those values can't be ad hoc, they must be universal in their application, including right here in Canada.

That being said, I disagree with any efforts to legislate a prohibition of expressions of support for BDS — respect for opposing views and the conversation they spawn are the only way to fulsome discussion and consensus. 

I regret that I didn’t post my thoughts on this earlier, but I didn’t actually think GPC members would pass this motion, nor did I think I would have to articulate or defend my own thoughts on the matter. 

 

Postscript: 

Once of the most meaningful and thoughtful opinions on resolving the conflict I've read comes from the The Parent’s Circle - A grassroots organization of bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance.

"Although the PCFF has no stated position on the political solution of the conflict, most of its members agree that the solution must be based on free negotiations between the leadership of both sides to ensure basic human rights, the establishment of two states for two peoples, and the signing of a peace treaty." — www.theparentscircle.com