Canadian political leader is ‘torn’ over resolution endorsing BDS

Marcy Oster

TORONTO (JTA) — The leader of Canada’s Green Party is “torn” over two Israel-related resolutions to be debated at the party’s convention next month.

One resolution to be reviewed by party members meeting in Ottawa in August would endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. The second calls on the party to pursue revoking the charitable status of the Jewish National Fund of Canada.

Regarding the two measures, “I am honestly torn,” party leader Elizabeth May wrote earlier this month in a letter to the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper.

“I, along with all Greens, denounce anti-Semitism in all its forms,” Green wrote. “I support unequivocally the right of the State of Israel to exist. I also have deep sympathies with the plight of the Palestinian people, and I find the illegal expansion of settlements on the West Bank deeply concerning.”

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In an earlier open letter to Canada’s Jewish community, May repeated that the Green Party of Canada opposes the BDS movement. “Some members wish to change that policy. That is their right as members,” she said

However, “as a past donor to the Jewish National Fund, I am troubled by the JNF support for Canada Park on the site of villages emptied and bulldozed in 1967,” she wrote to the Times-Colonist. “While no doubt JNF supports many worthy charitable endeavors, I am in a respectful discussion with the organization about policies of exclusion.”

Anti-Israel activists in Canada, as well as Great Britain and the United States, have long petitioned their governments to revoke JNF’s charitable status, arguing the organization has appropriated Palestinian land and discriminates in its leasing and selling of land.

May said she has invited JNF Canada to participate in the convention and speak to the resolution. “It may well be defeated in on-line voting and never make it to a debate,” she said.

In her letter to the newspaper, she added: “Decisions taken by any state or government, including the state of Israel, must be subjected to legitimate criticism and discussion in an open and democratic society.”