The Ontario NDP has once again succumbed to pressure from the anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic and anti-egalitarian B’nai Brith.
Last night newly elected Ontario NDP MPP Sarah Jama re-tweeted Palestinian academic Noura Erakat’s statement on the death of Palestinian prisoner Khaled Adnan. Erakat tweeted, “Sheikh Khaled Adnan has died on day 90 of his hunger strike in Israeli captivity. His arrest on Feb 5, was his 13th arrest by the IOF [Israel Occupation Force] and this was his 4th Hunger Strike. Adnan is the father of 9, the husband of Randa, from Arrabah, and now a martyr for freedom. Free Palestine.”
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council and other human rights groups released similar statements regarding Adnan’s death. The UN experts statement noted, “The death of Khader Adnan is a tragic testament to Israel’s cruel and inhumane detention policy and practices … The systematic practice of administrative detention is tantamount to a war crime.”
After B’nai B’rith posted a picture of Jama retweeting Erakat the NDP released a “Statement regarding Hamilton Centre MPP”. It noted, “Last night, the MPP for Hamilton Centre retweeted a tweet by an American academic Noura Erakat concerning the death of Khader Adnan and later un-retweeted it. The content of the tweet does not reflect the views of MPP Jama or the Ontario NDP.”
B’nai Brith has been attacking Jama since she ran in a Hamilton bi-election two months ago. At the time they called her “a radical activist who has been associated with groups that have frequently targeted Israel” and “a supporter of the antisemitic boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement.” Unfortunately, Jama subsequently apologized for (non-existent) “harmful” comments.
The attacks on Jama follow on from the group’s successful attacks against another pro-Palestinian NDP MPP. In 2020 B’nai Brith got the NDP to distance itself from Joel Harden’s defence of another Palestinian political prisoner, Khalida Jarrar. They were part of a subsequent onslaught that saw Harden (embarrassingly) apologize for altogether innocuous comments.
During the provincial election eleven months ago the NDP responded to a B’nai B’rith questionnaire by endorsing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) anti-Palestinian definition of antisemitism. The party also expressed opposition to a movement seeking to end apartheid. Its answer noted, “The Ontario NDP in no way endorses or supports the BDS [Boycott Divestment and Sanctions] movement…. Protest movements, however, should never become spaces where antisemitism, racism or hate is accepted.” Another part of the party’s response noted that “New Democrats also believe that public funds should not support programs that encourage a sense of hatred against the Jewish community or any other community.” NDP Ontario is explicitly linking a nonviolent movement challenging what Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and many others have labeled apartheid with racism.
It’s inexcusable that the Ontario NDP continues to throw Palestinians under the bus to curry favor with a racist, anti-left-wing organization.
Leaving aside their flagrant anti-Palestinianism, B’nai Brith has repeatedly whipped up hate against Muslims as Stephen Ellis recently detailed in “Tracking the malignant racism of B’nai Brith Canada”. They’ve promoted the xenophobic backlash against the term “Islamophobia” in bill M-103, which called for collecting data on hate crimes and studying the issue of “eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination including Islamophobia.”
B’nai Brith is also overtly hostile to politicians and groups trying to build a fairer world. They’ve campaigned aggressively to defund student unions and associated organizations. B’nai Brith “called on McGill University to immediately cease funding SSMU [Student Society of McGill University]” and pressed the University of Toronto’s administration to withhold its graduate students’ union funding. B’nai Brith was also granted intervener status on the side of the Doug Ford Conservatives in a court case between the Canadian Federation of Students/York Federation of Students and Ontario regarding the government’s move to force universities to grant opt outs for various student fees.
Despite the Ontario NDP bending over backwards to please a racist organization, all universal human rights supporters and progressives know that human rights for everyone but Palestinians is not progressive at all.