The outpouring of Canadian support for the human rights of Palestinians has obviously unnerved some hardened Israeli nationalists. But who would have thought it could threaten the unity of the Green Party?
Party leader Annamie Paul’s senior adviser has threatened party MPs, gone against party policy and needs to be removed immediately. If Paul doesn’t remove Noah Zatzman and shift gears regarding Palestine it may spell the end of any chance she has for success as party leader.
Recently Zatzman posted a message to Facebook stating:
“Shabbat shalom. I have never experienced more anti-Semitism and Jew hatred from people I thought I knew well, then I did this week. (This includes being on campus at York and Carleton in 2002-7 — not a walk in the park). The progressive and climate communities have displayed, at some points this week, overt and virulent anti-Jewish behavior.
“Appalling anti-Semitism and discrimination from a range of political actors beginning with Jagmeet Singh and Dimitri Lascaris and many Liberal, NDP and sadly Green MPs.
We will not accept an apology after you realize what you’ve done. We will work to defeat you and bring in progressive climate champions who are antifa and pro-LGBT and pro indigenous sovereignty and Zionists!!!! Am Israel chai [The people of Israel live].”
Zatzman’s statement is wild. Only hardened Israeli nationalists believe it is anti-Jewish to oppose Israel’s recent ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem, violent attacks on the Al-Aqsa mosque and killing of 63 children in Gaza. Certainly, smearing influential individuals and threatening to work to “defeat” sitting Green MPs doesn’t seem very strategic for a top adviser. Nor is it realistic to think it’s possible to create a climate and social justice coalition supportive of Israeli violence and ethnic cleansing. Whatever Zatzman may believe, there is a strong correlation between those who organize or attend climate or indigenous rights protests and those outraged at Israel’s actions.
But Zatzman has been shaped by intense Israeli nationalist institutional indoctrination. He graduated from Toronto’s TanenbaumCHAT high school, which organizes fundraisers for Israeli military initiatives and holds regular “IDF days.”He was also tied to Hillel and part of the Birthright Israel Alumni Community. Birthright offers young Jews free trips to Israel in the hopes of engendering Zionism and deterring them from marrying non-Jews.
Zatzman’s statement reflects deep-seated anti-Palestinianism and could cost Paul greatly. Already the Green party leader is in a battle with former leader Elizabeth May over party resources. Last month the manager of Paul’s unsuccessful Toronto Centre by-election, Sean Yo, implied the people around May were anti-Black and anti-Jewish in a story the Toronto Star headlined “Senior Green officials are sabotaging the first Black woman to lead a Canadian political party, ‘disgusted’ insiders say”. Since then, there have been a series of other leaks designed to embarrass May and her supporters. It seems foolhardy to simultaneously fight with May, threaten to defeat sitting Green MPs and battle members over Palestine.
After refusing to make a declaration for days Paul has released two statements on Israel’s recent violence. They are as bad or worse than what the Trudeau government has said. But all three Green MPs have released statements critical of Israeli actions and many members are angry Paul is ignoring official party policy, which is pretty good on Palestinian rights. In response to an action alert tweet titled “Write Annamie Paul and ask her where she stands on Palestine”, Green MP Jenica Atwin wrote, “I stand with Palestine! There are no two sides to this conflict, only human rights abuses! EndApartheid.”
It is unlikely that many Greens support Paul’s position on Palestine. Even fewer likely support Zatzman’s wild statement. Some pro-Palestinian NDP activists, bolstered by that party’s recent call for an arms embargo on Israel, have turned Zatzman’s statement into an opportunity to embarrass the Greens.
If Paul doesn’t immediately remove Zatzman it suggests she’s more committed to Israel’s ethnic cleansing and war crimes than her own career.
On Friday, May 21 at 7pm Yves Engler will be speaking at a Canadian Foreign Policy Institute event on “The Innumerable Ways Canada Supports Israeli Apartheid”