(Read the article with the above title on the Middle East Eye or on the UNJPPI Blog)
by Steve Berube, Co-chair UNJPPI
In general, I agree with the overall gist of the article. The recent history of the Liberal party (dating back to the 60's) is of very strong ties with two groups related to the article: the Canadian Jewish community and big business.
Like many, I am not impressed with the decision not to do anything with the shipment to Saudi. I hope this was a short term political decision. Try to imagine how it would have played out if Trudeau would have said they would intervene and cancel the export permit.
With respect to Palestine and Israel there is reason to worry that he may not dramatically shift Canadian policy. The Liberal's retook several ridings where the Jewish community has major influence. This means any criticism of Israel will face push back in the caucus.
With respect to his BDS comments, in what I have read but not researched, he seems to be pushing for the rights of pro-Israel students on campus to feel safe. So the issue may be about the limits of free speech impinging on the safety of another group. I can understand that perspective especially if the pro-Israel community is in his ear about that particular issue.
I know from a conversation with one of his oldest and closest friends two things. First, the party was not going to move prior to the election on Israel/Palestine. Second, Trudeau in the previous couple of years, especially before the last Liberal policy convention, seemed to be building some bridges with the Canadian Arab community.
Also, knowing that his brother is probably pro-BDS means that no one should hold back from talking sincerely about BDS as a means to get Israel to start to respect the human rights of Palestinians.
Venting about Israel may feel good but strategically will not change the hearts and minds of many. Building a strong case rooted in the personal experiences of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian Israelis will make the difference. Building a case based on the credibility of groups like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other human rights observers such as EAs (especially where documentation is readily available) will help to change perspectives. In other words, use stories as examples and back those up with statistics.
Strategically, from my perspective, we need to be active on a couple of fronts.We need to work with local MP's and those in the riding who have strong influence to focus on three issues:
- The situation on the ground with a focus on grounding the situation in personal stories of Palestinians,-
- A focus on traditional Canadian values: support of human rights and the rule of international law - i.e. the 4th Geneva Convention.
- A focus on getting MPs to get to know Palestinians in their riding.
- Naming the reality that on the one hand the pro-Israel lobby in Canada is well funded and well organized while on the other hand the pro-Palestinian lobby relies predominately on volunteers.