Curious case of NDP exec attacking party leader on Palestine

Ryan Painter

Strange that a member of the NDP executive would echo an anti-Palestinian group’s attacks against the party. Weirder still, this executive who disparaged Jagmeet Singh for taking action on Palestine and attacked those saying Israel practices apartheid, has made similar claims in the past.

In one of a half-dozen tweets, Ryan Painter shared a recent Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs email campaign criticizing Singh for releasing 13 demands of the Liberals on Palestine. He added, “I’m an NDP member and on the Federal Executive of the party (representative from BC). I do not support this approach, nor do I support the adoption of BDS. We need to do better.”

I responded, “Do you reject Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the UN special rapporteur and many other human rights groups findings that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid?”

Painter replied, “Yes, I wholeheartedly reject their findings. It is ridiculous to label Israel an apartheid state. Give your head a shake.”

Refusing my request to provide evidence for his statement, Painter instead posted a five-year-old article smearing me and then went silent. But this is when Painter’s “give your head a shake” comment became interesting. Sam Hersh noted that Painter campaigned for the most pro-Palestinian candidate, Niki Ashton, in the 2017 NDP leadership race while James Hutt revealed that “up until about 2017 he [Painter] knew very well that Israel was an apartheid state and called for BDS.” Hutt provided a half dozen screenshots of Painter calling Israel an apartheid state or making similar statements. “Fact remains the state of Israel practices racial segregation against Palestinians=apartheid”, tweeted Painter. On another occasion he noted, “How are we spreading freedom? By supporting a fascistic government responsible for apartheid???”

In 2021, notes Hutt, Painter did “a sharp U-turn” in which he started “sucking up to Israeli diplomats” and “promoting obscure Israeli propaganda.” It’s unclear why. Some speculated that Painter’s about-face was motivated by financial considerations or to create some buzz for his media relations firm or maybe it was linked to his role in Victoria municipal politics. In recent years Painter has done a number of events with Victoria NDP MP Randall Garrison. A vice president of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group, Garrison is the highest profile anti-Palestinian in the NDP

Recently 40 groups and 200 prominent musicians, authors and NDP members signed a public letter calling on Jagmeet Singh to disassociate the party from an interparliamentary group that promotes “greater friendship” with Israel. Signed by Noam Chomsky, Linda McQuaig, Svend Robinson and Roger Waters the letter states, “it is incoherent for the NDP to echo human rights groups’ finding of Israeli apartheid and simultaneously participate in a group promoting ‘co-operation’ with Israel.”

Promoting Jewish supremacy in Israel is not progressive and certainly not NDP member-approved policy. Curious that a member of the NDP executive should feel comfortable promoting an anti-Palestinian group’s attacks against the party.


Please take a minute to call on the NDP to withdraw from the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group

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