OPINION: NDP policy in the Middle East is to blame Israel entirely

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Some politicians perfectly demonstrate why their profession consistently ranks among the least trusted professions in the country.

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Last June, university students and members of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton who felt unsafe met Heather McPherson, MP for Edmonton Strathcona and federal NDP foreign affairs critic, to discuss of McPherson’s one-sided stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which glosses over Palestinian wrongdoing and blames Israel entirely.

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We were hoping that she would hear the views of the Jewish community, that the issue is complex. We hoped it would move closer to the federal NDP’s longstanding position that both sides have a responsibility to end the conflict. We hoped she would understand how her words make Jewish Albertans feel unsafe in their communities and in their Jewish identity.

It is important. McPherson’s blaming the world’s only Jewish state for a litany of problems in the Middle East has shifted from a foreign policy perspective to an attack on Jewish Albertans and their identity.

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We emerged hopeful that McPherson would add the missing nuance to his speech to reflect the lived reality in the Middle East.


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We should have known better.

In an email last month, Jagmeet Singh’s NDP shared its new policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it was as if McPherson’s biased tweets, compiled into an email, had become the news party policy in the Middle East.

Singh pretended to defend peace, stating his support for a two-state solution, a position supported by the Jewish Federation of Edmonton and most Jewish Canadians.

From there, however, the letter continued to demonize the Israelis as somehow solely responsible for the entire conflict, infantilize the Palestinians as helpless and unfortunate victims, and regurgitate anti-Israeli talking points. long refuted from Soviet-era propaganda. And he absolved the Palestinian leadership of their actions perpetuating the conflict, harming generations of their own people.

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The Palestinians’ repeated refusals of a negotiated peace and a two-state solution are nothing new.

In 1947, when UN Resolution 181 established the borders of a state of Israel and a Palestinian state, Arab leaders vehemently rejected it. Anti-Jewish violence in British-held territory led to Israel’s War of Independence – when it defeated attacks from seven neighboring Arab states.

Hopes were raised in 2000 when US President Bill Clinton brought Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian National Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to Camp David for peace talks.

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Israel came to the table ready to make concessions for peace, including the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, the ceding of some pre-1967 Israeli territories in return for some land swaps, and sovereignty over part of East Jerusalem.

Arafat replied: “no”. He made no counter-offer and indicated no way to move the negotiation process forward. Each proposal presented was received in the same way: No.

The current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has done no better.

When presented in 2008 with a new peace deal by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, which included withdrawal from almost all of the West Bank, compensation for the remainder in a land swap and, most importantly, , the recognition and formalization of a state, Abbas rejected it and refused to offer an alternative.

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There seems to be a lingering desire among Palestinian leaders to prolong the conflict.

As recently as May 2020, when the United Arab Emirates offered COVID-19 medical aid to the Palestinian Authority, its leadership refused to accept desperately needed supplies – as aid shipments would land. at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.

The Middle East is changing. Israel now enjoys peaceful relations with a growing list of its Arab neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. As the world moves, the federal NDP has seemingly regressed decades.

We thought McPherson understood. We thought she recognized the impact of her lopsided statements on the Jewish community. But the fact that his vehemently one-sided tweets targeting Israel have now become federal NDP policy in the Middle East indicates that we have been cheated.

Steven Shafir, KC is a board member of the Center for Israel & Jewish Affairs and past president of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton.

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