Here is a powerful letter my friend, the poet Nyla Matuk, wrote recently to candidates vying for the leadership of Canada’s New Democratic Party. Formerly the country’s progressive option, the NDP has followed other such parties across most Western nations in the rightward creep that began under Reagan and Thatcher.

The leadership vote takes place in October, but the issues are already exposing deep moral divides among the candidates, not least on Israel-Palestine. The NDP’s previous leader, Tom Mulcair, was a virtually unconditional supporter of Israel, a military superpower, expressing shamefully equivocal concern about that country’s savage 51-day blitz of Gaza, while ruthlessly punishing party members who broke ranks to stand up for Palestinian rights.

Sadly, shameful equivocation was as good as it got in Canada during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge and since, with barely a cigarette paper between the country’s then PM, the Teflon-haired and -hearted Stephen Harper, and his photogenic replacement, Justin Trudeau, who consistently alleges that non-violent advocacy of Palestinian human rights runs contrary to Canadian values.

This is Nyla’s letter:

‘I am writing to you all today as a Canadian of Palestinian descent, born in Winnipeg and living in Toronto. I work in the field of multiculturalism.
Given the NDP’s statement on International Human Rights Day, that “every person has the fundamental right to freedom, equality, justice and dignity,”
it’s simply beyond my understanding how it might be commensurate with Helene Lariviere’s reported recent attendance at a conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee and her subsequent support for the apartheid-endorsing Jewish National Fund.

Please read the report I’ve linked here, on the NDP activities that are supporting the dispossession and continued ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their own land, and change the party behaviour so that you will all be seen on the right side of history. Do this immediately and show yourselves to be a truly progressive political party.

In addition, I might direct your attention to the ongoing brutalization, political detention and imprisonment, illegal home searches, extra-judicial killings, trials of children in military courts, and home demolitions and evictions, among other contraventions of the Geneva conventions, that Israel continues to perpetrate on non-Jews who are indigenous to the region.

Do you believe Palestinians do not deserve human rights? That is what your party is saying when your representative attends AIPAC and supports the JNF.

Sincerely,

Nyla Matuk

Toronto