This article was originally published on September 4, 2017 on Rabble.ca.
For years, Israel's apologists have made headlines accusing the Palestinians of using anti-Semitic textbooks. Recently, the battle came to Canada when B'nai Brith attacked the government's decision to fund the UN aid organization for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), suggesting UNRWA school textbooks demonized Israel. It is a cynical strategy which grabs headlines when announced, but fails to make the news when such allegations are debunked.
When exploring the most recent incarnation of these accusations, it's important to mention a few realities conveniently omitted by Israel's champions. First, UNRWA has never been in the business of producing textbooks. Instead, UNRWA schools use the textbooks and curricula of the countries which host the refugees, i.e. the textbooks of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Gaza; and the textbooks of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon in those countries. This is because students who advance in their studies must inevitably sit for local exams.Read more
This article was originally published on July 14, 2017 on Huffington Post Canada.
This article was also published on July 14, 2017 on Rabble.ca.
With the recent flip-flop of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on the labelling and sale of West Bank wines in Canada, it's easy to wonder whose interest the agency serves. On July 6, CFIA issued a directive to all Canadian liquor boards which some interpreted as necessitating a ban on the sale of two wines that CFIA considered falsely labelled as "Made in Israel." CFIA made a compelling argument, citing Canada's Food and Drugs Act, and the Government of Canada's official policy on the status of the West Bank.
This decision was triggered by a formal complaint launched by Dr. David Kattenburg of Winnipeg, and affected wines from Psȃgot Winery Ltd. and Shiloh Winery Ltd. In his complaint, Kattenburg demonstrated that both wineries are operating in the West Bank, and not in Israel proper, and neither winery uses grapes harvested in Israel, in violation of CFIA labelling regulations.Read more
This article was originally published on May 26, 2017 in the Toronto Sun.
Earlier this week, the Toronto Sun published an op-ed entitled, “NDP MP Niki Ashton has made her priorities clear.” While I disagree with virtually everything the op-ed sought to assert, I do agree with the title, as indeed, it is clear that the rights of the oppressed are the priority in Ms. Ashton’s distinguished political career.
Since she won her seat in Parliament in 2008, Ms. Ashton has been a champion for a broad variety of social issues. She has spoken out repeatedly for the rights of women, and how women suffer wage discrimination and other systemic obstacles in Canada. She has also long been a proponent of LGBTQ rights, supporting same-sex marriage and other social rights for such groups since the beginning of her political career.Read more
This article was originally published on April 18, 2017 on Ricochet.
Canadians should be proud to have hosted Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai last week. She is an inspiration not only for what she has accomplished in her brief 19 years on earth, but for the causes she represents and defends: foremost the right for all girls around the world to have access to education. Her wisdom, humility and poise before Canada’s Parliament should be an inspiration to all: men and women, young and old alike.
But hosting someone such as Yousafzai is about more than just photo ops, and “feel good” press statements. It should be cause for reflection on our own action – or inaction – on the issues she raises. And for all practical purposes, Canada’s political leaders are worlds apart from Yousafzai.Read more
This article was originally published on April 13, 2017 on Canada Talks Israel Palestine.
To Zionists, the “Balfour Declaration” has an almost mythical status – like the Magna Carta or the US Declaration of Independence. One hundred years ago, on November 2nd 1917, Britain’s Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour sent a letter to British Zionist Lord Rothschild, promising that Britain would help establish a “national home” for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which at that time was under the Ottoman Empire.
The 1917 “Balfour Declaration” promised British support for the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people” but to the disappointment of Zionists did not call for a “Jewish state”Read more
This article was originally published on May 4, 2017 in the Huffington Post.
Three things are clear coming out of the second NDP leadership debate in Montreal. First, there’s a clear sense of where the party is headed. Second, the field of leadership candidates is extremely strong. And finally, the candidates will need to try harder to distinguish themselves.
This is in strong contrast to 2012, when last the NDP had to choose a leader. The task of replacing Jack Layton in 2012 forced the party to make many tough decisions, foremost over whether to bring the party closer to the political centre under Thomas Mulcair. But the current race has four candidates all of whom push a strong social democrat vision. They each refer frequently and favourably to Jack Layton’s legacy, but rarely to Thomas Mulcair’s. Regardless of which candidate prevails in the end, the party will be pushing a solidly progressive vision.
This article was originally published on March 28, 2017 in the Huffington Post.
If you’re like me, Canada’s debate around Islamophobia has left you drained and disillusioned. Both the Liberals and Conservatives treated this important social issue as if it were political football, seeking to gain cheap yardage with seemingly little concern for the lives involved. Muslim Canadians deserve better.
Many Canadians might be surprised to learn that back in October, Canada passed an anti-Islamophobia motion by unanimous consent. House of Common petition e411, sponsored by Liberal MP Frank Baylis was the basis for this motion. Sadly, at the time, Liberals didn’t have the political courage to propose a motion on Islamophobia before the House. Instead, it was NDP leader Thomas Mulcair who showed the sensitivity and political resolve to present this motion, and did so successfully on October 26.Read more
This article was originally published on Feb. 23, 2017 in the Huffington Post.
The jury is in. According to a new survey, the vast majority of Canadians do not consider criticism of the government of Israel to be “anti-Semitic.” This finding flatly contradicts those who have been warning of a “new anti-Semitism” in Canada, where criticism of Israel is a veiled form of this despicable historic ideology.
Of those who offered an opinion, 91 percent of Canadians did not believe that criticism of Israeli government policy is necessarily anti-Semitic. For those respondents who identified with the Liberal party, the number was 97 percent; for those with in NDP, literally 100% said that criticism of Israel is like criticism of any other country.Read more
This article was originally published on Feb. 20, 2017 in Rabble.
The most recent poll regarding Canadian’s attitudes towards Israel has just been released and the results are telling. Quite strikingly, far more Canadians have a negative view of the government of Israel than a positive one. Even more remarkable, Quebec respondents have a far harsher view of the government of Israel than their fellow Canadians.
Some have argued that Quebecers have always been more critical of the Israeli government, and more sympathetic to the Palestinians. This assumption was up in the air, however, when a survey by Crop-LaPresse issued in 2014 during the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas found that the majority (64%) of Quebecers chose not to pick sides in the messy flare up.Read more
This article was originally published on Feb. 17, 2017 in the Huffington Post.
New survey results indicate that on the question of Israel-Palestine politics, the Trudeau government is grossly out of step with the Canadian electorate. New survey results indicate that while Canadians were far more likely to have a negative opinion of Israeli government, most Canadians believe their government is biased in favour of Israel.
In a survey co-sponsored by my organization and conducted by EKOS, 46 percent of Canadians who expressed an opinion had a negative or somewhat negative view of the government of Israel. Only 28 percent had a positive or mostly positive view of Israel. On the other hand, 61 percent believed that their government held a pro-Israel Middle East policy, while only 16 percent thought Canada was pro-Palestinian.Read more