In recent days, Israel has killed more than 3,000 Palestinians (including at least 1,030 children), dropped white phosphorus on Gaza, enforced a brutal siege cutting off essential supplies as a form of collective punishment, and called on more than a million Gazans to leave their homes. These actions, among others, have, according to an expert in the field (backed up by hundreds of others), amounted to “a textbook case of genocide unfolding in front of our eyes.”
Despite this, on Tuesday, Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the federal NDP, appeared as a speaker at a conference organized by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), one of the most fervently pro-Israel groups in Canada.
Since Israel’s latest bombardment of Gaza began, CIJA has cheered on Israel’s offensive, blamed some Gazans for their deaths and smeared groups that have expressed solidarity with Palestinians. In addition, CIJA failed to rescind an invitation made to a speaker who, in the days prior to the conference, tweeted a horrific image portraying Palestinians as insects getting crushed by the Israeli army. CIJA also previously made it clear that one of their priorities for the conference is hearing “leadership in the political sector declare that anti-Zionism equals antisemitism.” These latest actions follow decades of pro-Israel lobbying, media work, smear campaigns and much more by CIJA and its predecessor, including sponsoring expensive propaganda trips to Israel for more than 800 MPs.
Several groups called on Singh to withdraw from the conference, claiming that it platforms “advocates of genocidal violence against Palestinians.” These appeals were popular, with one petition receiving more than 7,600 signatures of support as of Tuesday night. Moreover, members of Independent Jewish Voices Canada blockaded one of the entrances to the conference on Monday, arguing that it “seeks to conflate anti-Zionism and antisemitism and increase Canada’s support for Israeli violence.” And Canadians For Justice And Peace In The Middle East (CJPME) called for the conference to be boycotted. Despite this, Singh went ahead with his speech. Rather than joining the people in Ottawa protesting Israel’s mass slaughter on Tuesday night, Singh spoke as part of a keynote address hosted by those endorsing it.
As editors of The Maple, we are disgusted by Singh’s choice, as well as other decisions in the party, at the federal and provincial levels, both recent and historical, that have shown a callous disregard for the lives of Palestinians in Palestine and abroad.
This past weekend, Palestinian activists at the federal NDP’s convention attempting to bring attention to the mass killing and influence the party’s policies on it were assaulted by security and booted from the building. Last week, the Ontario NDP publicly pressured one of its MPPs to apologize for a statement they had made that called for an immediate ceasefire. The party later sent out an advisory to all of its MPPs instructing them to not attend any rallies related to the issue, and spreading a racist conspiracy theory about a supposed “Day of Jihad,” a theory that was also cited by the man who killed a six-year-old Palestinian Muslim boy in Chicago. Also that week, Toronto mayor Olivia Chow, a former NDP MP, smeared a pro-Palestine rally and its participants and portrayed them as a threat to Jewish people in Canada.
Of course, the NDP’s issues didn’t just start this month. For example, in late-2019, Singh told CIJA: “I don’t believe [that BDS is] a path to peace,” and “it is not [the NDP’s] path forward and it will not be.” As CJPME vice president Michael Bueckert wrote for Passage (now Maple Opinion) in February 2020, “Even worse, Singh repeated several common falsities often levelled against the BDS movement: he suggested criticizing Israel too much (whoever gets to determine such a thing) ‘has to indicate antisemitism’; he said the boycott of Israel has a ‘similar pattern of behaviour’ to Nazi boycotts of Jews in the 1930s; he accused the movement of creating ‘tension,’ ‘division’ and an ‘unsafe climate’ on university campuses.”
While the federal NDP has now called for a ceasefire, it has failed to do anything concrete to force the Liberal government — which it has propped up since March 2022 in a supply agreement — to take that position (and much more, as is needed).
Ultimately, the NDP has shown that it is willing to stand by as genocide unfolds, saving its harshest actions for those fighting back. We believe the presence of such a party should not be welcomed in leftist spaces. While we can’t control what other organizations and outlets do — and indeed, some valuable progressive publications in Canada have deep ties to the NDP — we can determine what happens at The Maple. As such, as editors of The Maple we will no longer seek or be open to any sort of pitches, articles, appearances, features or requests from elected NDP officials, those who run for the party going forward, those employed by the party, and others with more formal ties.
We do not have the largest media platform, but we are proud of building a thriving space for leftist writers. We understand that some individuals and groups on the left came to this sort of decision sooner than us and for a range of justifiable reasons, including the British Columbia NDP’s support of the crackdown on Wet’suwet’en land defenders. We do not wish to imply that our delay on this decision was justifiable. Instead, we’d like to emphasize that as people who care deeply about the plight of the Palestinians and have dedicated an extensive amount of effort to covering their liberation movement, we do not want those in positions of power who harm their struggle to feel welcome here. This was our breaking point.
To be clear, The Maple has always been a non-partisan publication. We do not back any of Canada’s major parties, have never released an editorial endorsing one and have published articles harshly critiquing all of them at various points (including the majority of our articles regarding the NDP). The policy we’ve discussed here applies, and has applied, to other major parties as well, but we’ve chosen to focus this message on the NDP because some of our readers expect better of, and are more likely to be sympathetic to, them. We’ve also extended a very limited number of opportunities to those associated with the NDP in the past that we wouldn’t have for the other major parties, such as an episode of our North Untapped podcast featuring Singh.
Additionally, we want to stress that this new policy does not apply to rank-and-file party members or people who have voted for the party/intend to do so going forward. We understand that our readers vote for any particular party for a variety of reasons and ultimately prioritize things they feel are important. We hope our readers understand that this matter is especially important to us.
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