Citizen Action Monitor

My response to the Green Party’s request for feedback on the party’s adoption of the pro-BDS resolution

Party leaders probably won’t like what I had to say.

No 1749 Posted by fw, August 12, 2016

To act ignorantly when knowledge is available, to deny realities that patently exist and make a genuine difference, is the worst crime of civilized man.” — Herbert Thelen, American educator

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Controversy continues to swirl around the Green Party’s adoption of the pro-BDS resolution at its gathering last weekend in Ottawa. Party leader Elizabeth May is making the media rounds to explain why she is so vexed by the pro-BDS vote that she “could quit” as party leader.

Here are headlines to some of the online stories that have come to my attention:

In addition, I have contributed two posts of my own:

I also added a couple of paragraphs to a tangentially related August 11 post entitled: Deeply rooted factional politics in Palestinian society is jeopardizing their own salvation: “Deeply rooted factional politics in Palestinian society is jeopardizing their own salvation,” says Ramzy Baroud. I opened with this sentence: “Canada’s pro-BDS activists cannot allow Palestinians’ self-defeating political factionalism to undermine our pro-BDS actions.”

On August 11, I received the following email from Erich Jacoby-Hawkins, Co-Chair, Shadow Cabinet, Green Party of Canada. Am I correct in suspecting a hidden agenda lurking in the email?

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As a Green, please give us your thoughts on BDS

Dear fellow Green,

Like many of you, I regrettably was unable to attend the key votes at our convention this past weekend in Ottawa due to other equally-important commitments.

As you almost undoubtedly know, the vote to adopt a particular resolution addressing the Israel-Palestine situation has generated a significant degree of interest. Many are asking about this new policy, and are also asking about our policy development process in general.

There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue. Some think it is a bold step for human rights to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel movement. Others believe it is a risk to endorse another groups’ wording and campaigns where we are not in direct control of the message. In keeping with our Green values, it is important that we continue the conversation until we can get past these divisions and find something like consensus.

To be clear, it seems the vast majority of us agree that criticism of the Netanyahu or any other Israeli administration, is not controversial, and necessary when warranted. The question is whether or not aligning with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement is the appropriate course of action for our party to express such criticism.

As our membership and party grows, it is also important to continuously reevaluate our processes. This convention has given us a great opportunity to examine this essential aspect of our Party.

As co-chair of Shadow Cabinet, I believe that these questions are very important and timely. This is why I am asking you, as a member in good standing, to take a couple of minutes and fill out a short survey. This will help us consider our next steps as we continue to build and grow the Green Party.

Fill out the survey >> (hyperlink removed)

Thank you for your continued support of our party. I value your feedback.

Sincerely,

Erich Jacoby-Hawkins

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My reaction to the Jacoby-Hawkins email

This paragraph jumped out at me:

“There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue. Some think it is a bold step for human rights to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel movement. Others believe it is a risk to endorse another groups’ wording and campaigns where we are not in direct control of the message. In keeping with our Green values, it is important that we continue the conversation until we can get past these divisions and find something like consensus.”

Note the use of the indefinite nouns “Some” think and “Others” believe. In contrast, in his interview on The Real News Network, Green Party member Dimitri Lascaris gives specific numbers: And 58.5%, I think it was in the range of a little less than 900 voted in favor of the BDS resolution. Only 13.5% of those who voted, voted against. So the ratio of yeasayers to naysayers was an excess of 4 to 1 for the BDS resolution.”

Note this line: “…it is important that we continue the conversation until we can get past these divisions and find something like consensus…” A ratio of 4 to 1 for the BDS resolution sure seems like a strong consensus to me.

And then there’s this paragraph:

“To be clear, it seems the vast majority of us agree that criticism of the Netanyahu or any other Israeli administration, is not controversial, and necessary when warranted. The question is whether or not aligning with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement is the appropriate course of action for our party to express such criticism.”

In my feedback to the survey below, I address the first sentence. The second sentence reminds me of the post-Brexit outcome when the losers searched desperately for some way to have a re-vote.

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My responses to the Member survey on BDS resolution

On August 7th, our Green Party National Convention passed policy resolution G16-P006, to support some principles of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel movement. This change is in addition to our current policy as found in Vision Green.

What do you think about this decision? Which answer best applies to you?

I think this resolution is acceptable as-is. – I checked this box.

I think this resolution should be repealed.

I think this resolution should be made more general or applied more broadly (e.g. not tied to one actor or movement).

Do you believe that there is a need to improve upon our current policy development process?

Yes

No – I checked No

Unsure

Please use the box below to express why you are happy with our current policy development process, or how you believe we can make improvements. –

I’m unsure about the process.  But if Ms May’s remarks, as follows, refer to the process then I am happy with it — Members are “always right” and constitute the highest level of authority in the party. Anything is open to discussion, as long as it’s not hate speech. “We have absolutely no latitude to reject a decision of the members at a biennial policy meeting. That is now the policy of the Green party. There is no power of the leader, or the federal council that runs the party, to say, ‘Our members were wrong.”‘ As well, there is the need for a measure of support from a critical number of party members before a resolution can advance.

Do you have any other comments?

I have 6 other comments re the Member Survey of the BDS resolution

  1. Ms May claims BDS is “a tactic that won’t work”, but offers no supporting evidence of its failures. Instead, she proposes, as an alternative, support for opponents within Israel to Netanyahu’s policies. No details were forthcoming. Nothing about what kind of support she had in mind. Nothing about how opponents to Netanyahu might benefit from the “support” of a party with just one sitting member of parliament. Her proposal appears to be a low-risk, politically expedient cop out.
  2. In the cruelest cut of all, May would deny Palestinians support for their BDS movement, the most successful strategy yet to support Palestinian Resistance, while also holding Israel accountable for its “incremental genocide” of Palestinians. May’s opposition to BDS reflects a stunning, willful ignorance of the history of the region. Moreover, it is a slap in the face to all responsibly informed Canadians who toil in support of BDS.
  3. What other options does Ms. May offer to Palestinians, who have been victimized and ethnically cleansed from their own historic homeland for 68 years, described and treated as ‘beasts’, killed at will, and suffer under a massive system of apartheid and racial discrimination that has never ceased?
  4. Erich Jacoby-Hawkins’ email requesting fellow Greens to submit “thoughts on BDS” is telling, as much for what it doesn’t say as it is for what it does say. It does say that criticism of Israel should “not be controversial”, but “necessary when warranted” — knowing full well that any criticism, however benign, will draw fire from bullying B’nai B’rith and its allies. And criticism has not stopped Israel from pressing on with its construction of illegal settlements on Palestinian lands. If the only consequence is “criticism” – “necessary when warranted” – it gives Israel carte blanche to continue its acts of terrorism against innocent Palestinians.
  5. Elizabeth May’s threat to resign unless the party reconsiders its support of the BDS movement in a forthcoming review, is tantamount to holding the party hostage. Moreover, her announced intention to quit is not exactly a reflection of an admirable leadership quality. A party that would yield to her “my way or the highway” ploy is not a party that I want to belong to.
  6. It is worth noting that Jill Stein, a left-wing Jew, and US Green Party candidate for president, in an act of considerable moral courage, stared down AIPAC and endorsed BDS. Dr. Stein released this statement in support of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement:

“The United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government as it pursues policies of occupation, apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, demolitions, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, indefinite detention, collective punishment, and defiance of international law,”

“Bravo”, Jill Stein. “Shame”, Elizabeth May.

END OF SURVEY

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This entry was posted on August 12, 2016 by in moral & ethical counterpower, political action and tagged , , .
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