When Stephen Harper had previously given a speech in front of the Israeli parliament last year, he had effectively equated any lack of support for Israel with antisemitism. “[T]his is the face of the new anti-Semitism,” he said, “it targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel and attempts to make the old bigotry acceptable for a new generation. Of course, criticism of Israeli government policy is not in and of itself necessarily anti-Semitic. But what else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself, while systematically ignoring - or excusing - the violence and oppression all around it?.” And Harper isn't the only one having a problem with criticism of Israel, the NDP is also guilty of cracking down on pro-Palestinian sentiment.
The NDP has demonstrated that it will not tolerate any form of criticism of Israel from its candidates. On Sunday, Morgan Wheeldon, a candidate in Nova Scotia, was forced to resign after the Tories leaked old comments from Wheeldon's Facebook to the public. In his comments he wrote, “One could argue that Israel's intention was always to ethnically cleanse the region- there are direct quotations proving this to be the case... [I] Guess we just sweep that under the rug,” he posted, among other statements. And he isn't the only one. Another individual, Jerry Natanine, says that he also won't be running for election in the riding of Nunavut after he was cut from the contest as well over his support for Palestine. Wheeldon has since released a public statement affirming that he has never been anti-Semite, that he condemns terrorism, and that he believes that Israel is entitled to a secure state.
The NDP has a long history of supporting Israel, back in 2010 it was Mulcair who led the charge against Libby Davies after she expressed support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. “To say that you're personally in favor of boycott, divestment, and sanctions for the only democracy in the Middle East is, as far as I'm concerned, grossly unacceptable,” said Mulcair. He has publicly affirmed, on more than one occasion, that he is a staunch supporter of Israel “in all situations and in all circumstances.” Critics have suggested that its hypocritical and disappointing to see that the NDP would come out in support of civil liberties and social justice on many issues, but when it comes to issues over Palestine and Israel they get scared.
The Tories have also pointed the finger at NDP candidates Scott Andrews, Matthew Rowlinson, and Hans Marotte, as being worrisome critics of Israel. Justin Trudeau hasn't been shy to voice his opinion previously on the matter as well. Trudeau took to Twitter earlier this year and declared that the “BDS movement [had] no place on Canadian campuses,” and that he was disappointed with such criticism.
For now, a Facebook page has been established which calls for the reinstatement of Wheeldon. The page is called "Reinstate Morgan Wheeldon as NDP Candidate," and it was created by Andria Hill-Lehr. So far, the page has over 600 likes, and it's linked to an online petition which has now earned more than 500 likes and both are still growing.
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