Progressive Jews across Canada Urge Canada’s NDP to embrace peace, reject counter-productive resolutions

The Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, representing progressive Jewish congregations across Canada affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism, and ARZA Canada, which represents progressive Canadian Zionists, are concerned about resolutions being brought forward at the upcoming NDP national convention that unfairly and unreasonably target Israel and will deter rather than promote a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. 

These resolutions risk alienating many progressive Jewish Canadians – who have a long history of being active in the NDP, the labour movement and social justice causes – from the NDP. The vast majority of Jewish Canadians, while diverse in their politics and often critical of particular Israeli policies, feel that a connection to Israel and Israelis is a core part of their identity.  Rejecting the basic rights of Israelis means rejecting Jewish Canadians.

The text of the first of these resolutions place one-sided demands upon Israel for ending the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.  It emphasizes UN General Assembly Resolution 194 as a basis for a agreement. Passed in December 1948, UNGA 194 calls for the return of Palestinian refugees displaced by that war to their homes.

This resolution would mean the end of the Jewish state of Israel, the national homeland for the Jewish people, and cannot be a basis for peace. It could only serve to prolong the conflict and not be a constructive step toward a negotiated two-state solution. It is counterproductive and unfortunate that this resolution also promotes boycotting Israeli goods, instead of engaging with those who seek peace and justice on both sides. Instead, the NDP should support investing in Palestinians – and Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and economic cooperation – rather than boycotting either side. To do otherwise would not only place the NDP far from the international consensus on how to resolve this conflict, it would undermine Israelis and Palestinians who are today working together to achieve peace.

Both Israel and the Palestinians have to take steps to end the conflict.  This kind of resolution is a step backward, and we encourage the NDP to reject it.  Rather, the NDP should continue to be agents of positive change, as reflected in the party’s existing policy statements.  We see these as a sound basis for positive engagement. 

Several other, similarly one-sided, resolutions reportedly will be presented at the NDP convention.  The CCRJ and ARZA Canada encourage Canada’s NDP to reject these as well.  Misguided efforts to punish Israelis by boycotting products and people, encouraging economic divestment and sanctioning those who do business with Israel should be rejected by the NDP.  The party’s policies should promote positive engagement in the region and give priority to encouraging a negotiated solution that results in two viable, independent states.

February 14, 2018

About the CCRJ, ARZA Canada and the URJ

The Canadian Council for Reform Judaism (CCRJ) supports and strengthens progressive Jewish congregations across Canada that are affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), building communities that advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.

The Association of Reform Zionists of Canada (ARZA Canada) is an affiliate of the CCRJ and URJ. ARZA Canada is a member organization of ARZENU, the International Association of Reform Zionists, and the Canadian Zionist Federation. With over 6,000 members, its mandate is to connect with Reform communities throughout Canada, foster connections with and strengthen ties to the Reform Movement in Israel, and work to realize the vision of Reform Zionism.

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), founded in 1873, has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.

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