Friday, August 1, 2014

Re: Not too late ( build a better world -- or is it?): An open letter to the federal NDP

 An open letter to the federal NDP...

NDP Headquarters <>,,
 Dave.Hare@ndp.caPaul Dewar <>,
Dear Dave, Ann, Paul, Tom,
Your fundraising messages have been coming thick & fast recently, but in case you haven’t noticed, many people aren’t donating so much to the NDP of late, for a variety of reasons. For many of us, it is hard to hear your persistent call for cash these days over the weeping of mothers and fathers of the Jabaliya camp in Gaza whose children were killed in the recent Israeli shelling of the UNWRA school where they had been told to go for safe refuge. 

I am among the growing number of Canadian voters who would like to support a party in parliament that stands clearly for human rights and international law, but can’t find one. For a bunch of reasons, both personal and political, it would be great if that party were the NDP. But right now the NDP is not rising to the occasion, and frankly, time is running out for your party to take a principled stand. Your latest fundraising message says “the clock is ticking”, and I agree: the time to take a stand for international law is now!

We all know that many of your MPs have strong, principled positions but are not able to speak their consciences fully on the subject of Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians, especially in Gaza. At times like these, that imposed collective silence seems a lot like complicity with war crimes. This eerie caucus uniformity is all the more troubling when MPs from the UK Labour Party (together with members from the Conservative-Liberal-Democratic government coalition) are able to speak their conscience freely and name Israeli aggression for what we all know it is. Similarly in Australia, Labour MPs have spoken out along with Green Party and independent MPs, and many social-democratic parties in Europe and elsewhere allow elected representatives to speak out against Israeli attacks on civilians. So by enforcing a single narrow “Israel first-and-only” line on all public statements, you are increasingly isolating the NDP among sister parties. Even some Democratic Party congress reps in the U.S. have gone farther than your party’s MPs are allowed to, at least naming the aggressor the world knows is responsible for the soaring death toll among Palestinians in Gaza.

Your statements about the “conflict” are so detached from reality that you don’t even name who is responsible for the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. With the Harper government cheerleading for Israeli war crimes and Trudeau’s Liberals singing back-up, it would be very refreshing to offer concerned Canadian voters a real alternative. Just to be clear: your current silence about war crimes is not an alternative, and false “neutrality“ is not an alternative.  And your repetitive mantra of “Israel’s right to defend itself” is most definitely not an alternative, especially when you never mention the legal responsibilities that go along with that right (i.e. the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality). Bombing children in a UN school cannot ever be self-defense, under any understanding of international law. And yet you remain silent.

When your caucus labour critic cannot stand with the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux in naming who is the aggressor responsible for so many civilian deaths, the NDP falls out of step with traditional labour allies and working Canadians generally. When your health critic cannot concur publicly with the diagnosis expressed by MDs in the Lancet and by Médecins sans Frontières about attacks on Palestine, then health professionals (among many others) observe seriously worrisome symptoms within the NDP. And when your Human Rights critic cannot take a public position in line with what the International Committee of the Red Cross or Human Rights’ Watch are saying about violations of international law by Israel, then your party loses any remaining shreds of moral credibility at home and abroad.

Canadians need to see real leadership on this issue that names violations of international law for what they are, and calls for the application of the International Criminal Court to Israel. Until then we see such leadership, I will be standing with Canadians of conscience like Voters4Gaza – or sitting in with them, or perhaps even lying down and going limp (as my parents taught me) if necessary.  But right now your failure to call for the application of international law in Israel and Palestine means I cannot support the party I was born into, and the only party I’ve ever voted for, federally or provincially.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said recently that “No individual or state can be considered exempt, if they violate the law.” Will you speak out today in support of the UN Human Rights Commission’s call for an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate the conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories? Will you publicly support her call for accountability, “ensuring that the cycle of human rights violations and impunity is brought to an end.”?

Time is indeed running out.

Sincerely and persistently,

David Heap
London, Ontario

On 31 July 2014 19:19, NDP Headquarters <> wrote:

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post. All politicians of every political leaning should not hesitate to stand for universal human rights.