Category Archives: Green Party

Annamie Paul’s failure to confront international racism

 

Annamie Paul

Annamie Paul and her supporters are right to cite racism as a driving factor in her leadership crisis. But the Green leader’s supporters have misplaced the source of responsibility. It is Paul’s inability to view colonized peoples, notably Palestinians, as deserving of equal rights that is the source of her current troubles.

As the first Black woman federal party leader with MPs in the House of Commons, Paul has undoubtedly faced discrimination during her eight-month tenure. But Paul’s leadership of the Greens is in crisis due to her anti-Palestinian racism amidst a rebellion against Israel’s ethnic cleansing and violence.

As Israel bombed Gaza last month Paul released a horribly anti-Palestinian statement. It ran counter to the party’s democratically decided policy, which “supports only non-violent responses to violence and oppression, including economic measures such as government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment, economic sanctions and arms embargoes” to force Israel to comply with international law.

Unlike Paul all three Green MPs echoed the explosion of righteous outrage, criticizing Israeli “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing”. Then Green MP Jenica Atwin also explicitly disagreed with Paul’s statement. Subsequently, Paul’s senior adviser Noah Zatzman publicly denounced “appalling anti-Semitism” and “virulent anti-Jewish behavior” by Green MPs and other politicians. “We will not accept an apology after you realize what you’ve done,” he posted to Facebook. “We will work to defeat you.”

In subsequent interviews and posts Zatzman doubled down on his smears and threats against Green MPs and activists. As her senior adviser attacked much of the party, Paul remained mum regarding Zatzman’s statements. In fact, she responded to questions related to the divisions in the party by talking about anti-Semitism and despite the issue playing itself out in front of millions she has yet to distance herself from Zatzman’s wild statements.

Paul’s anti-Palestinianism is not new. When Independent Jewish Voices and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East surveyed the nine Green leadership candidates on their Middle East policy Paul received bottom marks.

And Palestinians aren’t the only colonized and racialized people that she has had a hard time seeing as deserving of equal rights. Paul backed the wealthy, Christian extremist and white supremacist coup against Bolivia’s first everindigenous President Evo Morales. As the Green’s International Affairs Critic, Paul released a statement that began by noting “a post-election audit conducted by the Organisation of American States (OAS) Electoral Observer Mission concluded that those elections were marred by serious irregularities and that the results should be annulled. Evo Morales has announced his resignation as President of Bolivia.” But Morales was forced out by soldiers and the OAS’ claims have been exposed as fraudulent.

Months later Paul stuck to her position by stating that her husband worked for the first indigenous Vice President of Bolivia, Victor Hugo Cárdenas, who became a controversial minister in the unelected post-Morales coup government. Paul’s husband, Mark Freeman, helped establish the New York based liberal imperialist International Center for Transitional Justice, which is largely funded by the Dutch Foreign Ministry, Swedish government and UN.

As leader of the Greens Paul has stoked Sinophobia as well. In February she called on Ottawa to push to move the 2022 Olympics from China and instead hold the games in the US and Canada (on unceded Indigenous lands in BC). She also called for sanctions against China.

As Green MP Paul Manly, environmentalist David Suzuki and other prominent individuals signed a statement critical of Canadian policy in Haiti, Paul has stayed quiet about Canadian imperialism in a country that delivered a major blow to racial slavery. Nor has she spoken out about Canadian mining companies pillaging African resources.

Paul previously worked as an advisor in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. She worked at the ICC at a time when the court was widely derided by Africans for only pursuing individuals from that continent, prompting stories like “Is the International Criminal Court Racist?” and “The ICC’s problem is not overt racism, it is Eurocentricism”.

Paul was posted to the ICC as part of her work for Canada’s lead purveyor of racist imperialism. She joined Global Affairs Canada out of university, working for years in Canada’s Mission to the European Union.

Her resume demonstrates rock solid support for the status quo in Canada and around the world. The problem is most Green Party members do not want the status quo. There are enough political parties working to maintain the privileges of the few against the needs of the many. Most Green Party members want serious change, not only to combat various ecological crisis, but also to create a more just world, where everyone everywhere has equal rights.

Yes, Paul should confront all forms of racism as Green party leader, including racism against Palestinians. But so far she has failed miserably on that important issue.

 

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Filed under Green Party, Israel Lobby

Green Party debacle may be win for Palestine

Jenica Atwin

Score an own goal for Green Party pro-Israel extremists Noah Zatzman and Annamie Paul. Not only are they responsible for the Liberals adding an MP to their caucus, one of their own they slandered as “anti-Semitic” for labeling Israel an “apartheid” state, but also saw to it that millions of Canadians heard mention of Israeli apartheid and now understand that Israel advocates brazenly and unjustly smear those they disagree with.

On Thursday MP Jenica Atwin left the Green party to join the Liberals. She was driven out by party leader Paul and senior adviser Zatzman whose anti-Palestinian animus blinded them to political reality and the scope of support for Palestinians among Greens.

On May 11 Atwin labeled as “totally inadequate” a statement from Paul whitewashing Israel’s ethnic cleansing and violence. On Twitter Atwin added, “Forced Evictions must end! I stand with Palestine and condemn the unthinkable air strikes in Gaza. End Apartheid! #SaveSheikhJarrah.”

In response to Atwin, a statement from Green MPs Paul Manly and Elizabeth May, as well as others, Zatzman accuseda slew of political leaders, including “Green MPs”, of “appalling anti-Semitism” and “virulent anti-Jewish behaviour”. He also said “we” would work to defeat them.

It was extremely stupid and should have led to Zatzman’s immediate removal. Instead, Paul sought to ride out the kerfuffle. But Green activists refused to let the smear and threat slide. They mobilized online and my article “Crazed anti-Palestinian Green adviser must be removed” was widely read and shared. Two weeks after Zatzman’s post the CBC finally reported on the matter. Incredibly, Zatzman doubled down in his attacks on Atwin and Manly in his interview with CBC and elsewhere. With Paul’s apparent support, he told La Presse that he didn’t regret his Facebook statement and that “these two MPs [Atwin and Manly] have propagated what I consider to be anti-Semitic remarks.” He added, “I’m not trying to rule out Jenica or Paul [Manly], but the Green Party wants to become a ‘mainstream’ party and make gains and if that means it has to lose Jenica along the way for that, well, too bad.”

Immediately, more than 150 Green party members signed a public letter calling for Zatzman’s removal. Simultaneously,1,400 individuals emailed Green leaders calling on them to “remove Noah Zatzman as senior adviser”.

On Tuesday the head of the Green Party Fund, Doug Tingey, emailed some members saying that Zatzman’s contract had been terminated a few days earlier. But Zatzman denied he was removed. A Canadian Press investigation found that he was staying on as a “volunteer” adviser to Paul. In other words, the Green executive council voted to end Zatzman’s contract, but Paul effectively flouted their decision.

This is the backdrop to Atwin joining the Liberals. In a press conference alongside New Brunswick cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc, the Liberals brought a new MP into the fold who recently called Israel an “apartheid” state for which she was labeled anti-Semitic. As the Centre for Israel Jewish Affairs, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, B’nai Brith and other Israel lobbyists began complaining about the Liberals embrace of Atwin, her messages critical of Israel were being reported to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Canadians. On Thursday Atwin told the media she stands by her previous criticism of Israel.

At a hastily organized Thursday press conference Paul was grilled for 40 minutes on Atwin’s defection. A half dozen of the country’s leading reporters discussed Zatzman’s charges of anti-Semitism in an incredulous tone and mentioned Israeli apartheid. Paul refused to answer when directly asked whether she “condones or condemns” Zatzman’s statement.

Throughout the press conference and subsequent interviews Paul repeatedly denied that Zatzman’s comments played any role in Atwin leaving the party. But Atwin suggested differently and Elizabeth May and Paul Manly made it clear that Zatzman was responsible. The two Green MPs released a joint statement Thursday afternoon noting, “unfortunately, the attack against Ms. Atwin by the Green Party leader’s chief spokesperson on May 14 created the conditions that led to this crisis. We have no intention of leaving the Green Party.”

Of course, the move by the Liberals to welcome Atwin into the fold was cynically electoral, but fascinating nonetheless. Generally, the Liberals govern from the right and run their election campaigns from the left, so it is smart strategy to embrace an MP identified with fighting for indigenous rights and the climate just prior to a probable election. In his statement Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “with her tireless and effective advocacy on priorities like climate action, mental health, reconciliation, and making life more affordable for families, Jenica Atwin is respected by her constituents and all of her colleagues as a champion for real change.” What’s more interesting is the Liberals’ calculation regarding Atwin’s position on Palestine. Does the party believe it serves their short-term electoral strategy to bring into caucus someone now identified with the Palestinian cause? Is it possible Trudeau’s people are calculating that after the massive outpouring of pro-Palestinian sympathy in recent weeks and the prime minister’s staunch pro-Israel positions it’s good to appear open to pro-Palestinian voices (particularly after the horrific recent anti-Muslim motivated murder in London Ontario)? If that’s the case the Liberals may actually welcome the criticism of Atwin leveled by CIJA, FSWC and other Israel lobbyists.

How will the rest of this game play out? Will there be more own goals by Paul and other fanatic supporters of Israel?

Stay tuned. This saga certainly does not seem finished.

 

Please ask the Green Federal Council to hold a Non-Confidence vote through this action alert.

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Green division over Palestine could net NDP 2 MPs

Annamie Paul

Green party leader Annamie Paul is a competent, well spoken, social democratic politician. She’s also fanatically anti-Palestinian. In her devotion to the apartheid state, Paul is giving two thirds of the Green party’s parliamentary caucus every reason to join the NDP.

On May 14 Paul’s senior adviser Noah 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].”

In recent interviews with CBC, Canadian Press, iPolitics and La Presse Zatzman effectively doubled down on his smears and threats. The former adviser to Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne told La Presse that he doesn’t regret his Facebook statement and that “these two deputies have propagated what I consider to be anti-Semitic remarks.” He added, “I’m not trying to rule out [Green MPs] Jenica [Atwin] or Paul [Manly], but the Green Party wants to become a ‘mainstream’ party and make gains and if that means it has to lose Jenica along the way for that, well, too bad.”

As he’s threatened and slandered innumerable individuals, Zatzman has presented himself as the victim. Zatzman told the media that those criticizing his outrageous Facebook statement were anti-Semitic and that his parents had to delist their home address (presumably fearing Green activists).

In another attack against party members Zatzman called on “all progressives” to “stay away” from the 2,300-member Green Party of Canada Supporters Facebook group. “They are not climate activists and I doubt they are even members of the Green Party of Canada”, he wrote. “It is a group of 150 of the country’s worst anti-Semitic actors … including a few neo-Nazis. They have been digitally harassing me and many others because we are Jewish in recent days, weeks and months. We must all come together to defeat anti-Semitism!!!!”

As her senior adviser smears the party’s activists and MPs, Annamie Paul has remained mum regarding Zatzman. In fact, she’s responded to questions related to the divisions in the party by talking about anti-Semitism.

Considering the circumstances, who could begrudge Manly or Atwin for changing parties? The NDP rank and file recently adopted a decent Palestine Resolution and Jagmeet Singh has called for an arms embargo on Israel. Could the division in the Green Party net the NDP two MPs? Incredibly, that may be where things are headed.

Manly’s father was an NDP MP and he was blocked from running for that party under former pro-Israel leader Tom Mulcair due to comments Manly made when Israel detained his father as part of an effort to breach Israel’s siege of Gaza. Manly would likely gain more votes running as an NDP candidate in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

The electoral calculation may be less favourable for Atwin since the NDP hasn’t traditionally been strong in New Brunswick. But the Greens hadn’t won a seat there before Atwin’s 2019 victory.

It will be interesting to see if Manly or Atwin join the NDP in coming weeks. If they do it would have significant positive effect on Palestinian solidarity in Canada.

 

Please ask the Green leadership to remove Noah Zatzman as senior adviser through this action alert.

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Questioning Canada’s “One China” policy is not progressive

In a recent commentary Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith suggested Green Party candidates’ path to victory was to question Canada’s “One China” policy. According to Smith, the candidates “missed an opportunity to win over the large number of Canadians who trace their roots back to Hong Kong and Taiwan and who are thoroughly disgusted with the behaviour of the Chinese government.”

Smith went on to say that if Green Party candidates’ had spoken out against the “Sinofascists in charge in China,” some of the large Hong Kong expat community in Canada “would have come out in force for any Green Party of Canada candidate who declared on their website that our country needs to respect the democratic desires of the former colony’s brave, democracy-loving residents.”

While Smith’s argument might persuade some caught up in the present wave of anti-China sentiment, the premise of his argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Whatever one’s opinion of the Chinese government, it is not wise to interfere in the internal affairs of another country—especially one so big and powerful.

So why would an otherwise sensible individual write such nonsense about China? Because as beneficiaries of Anglo-American colonialism we can be blind to our arrogance. Because the US, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand “Five Eyes” security agencies promote this type of thinking.

Let’s start with a little background:

Between 1841 and 1997 Hong Kong was a colony and dependent territory of the UK (with a Japanese interlude during World War II). Hong Kong was taken over at the end of the first British Opium War. That war weakened China’s central government and divided the country into foreign spheres of influence.

Taiwan’s relationship to mainland China is more complicated. Historically it was more independent from mainland China but the Kuomintang retreated there with some two million Chinese supporters in 1949 after they were defeated by Mao’s forces. For 21 years Ottawa recognized the government in Taiwan as the official representative of all China and until 12 years ago the governing party in Taiwan openly claimed it represented all of China.

From the Chinese perspective a One China policy reflects the end of the “century of humiliation” spurred by the Opium Wars. But, even after Mao’s victory largely consolidated the country and strengthened the central government, foreign powers sought to weaken China. In response to Mao’s victory, Canada sent 27,000 troops to Korea in the early 1950s where they fought Chinese troops. Canada refused to recognize the Chinese government until 1970.

More recently, Canada has pursued various measures to isolate and weaken China. Canada’s navy has run provocative patrols near its waters; Ottawa arrested one of its leading capitalists; the military has sought a small base in Singapore to keep an eye on China; Canada has troops in South Korea as part of a mission to contain China; Ottawa has sold nuclear material to India to counter China; Ottawa has failed to allow its firm to provide 5G networks, etc.

But, unlike similar destabilization/isolation campaigns against Venezuela, Iran, Haiti, etc., targeting China has limited negative impact on the target population because it is a very large country that has mostly broken from foreign domination. That doesn’t mean these efforts are benign however.

Conflict with China feeds the military/intelligence apparatus. It legitimates spending on new naval vessels and fighter jets as well as justifying the racist Five Eyes intelligence arrangement.

It has broader reverberations as well. China is so powerful that the Washington-led block’s efforts to target it undermines humanity’s efforts to mitigate the current pandemic, climate crisis and other pressing global matters.

The world doesn’t need a second Cold War. Calling for an end to Canada’s One China policy pushes us further down that path. So does calling for sanctions on China.

China is the most populous nation in the world. It’s only right that it would be among (or the) most powerful. We need to accept China’s rise and not expect a return to its previous weak and impoverished state. We also need to acknowledge its sensitivities because of the foreign interference the country had to overcome during its return to independence.

This isn’t an endorsement of the Chinese government’s policy in Hong Kong and Xinjiang or towards the “two Michaels” they’ve detained or “communist” billionaires. It’s simply the starting point for a serious, healthy, discussion of Canada-China relations.

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Green leadership candidates to debate foreign policy

Debate is the lifeblood of democracy and a good one is fun to watch or listen to. Hopefully an upcoming Green Party debate will accomplish that while simultaneously strengthening progressives’ foreign policy expectations and infrastructure.

On September 10, Rabble and the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute are organizing a Green Party leadership debate on “Canada’s Place in the World.” Moderated by journalist Judy Rebick, the event will allow people to “hear candidates’ views on Palestinian rights, Venezuela, NATO, the global climate crisis, as well as the international mining and arms industries. Candidates will also address the global pandemic, Donald Trump, tensions with China as well as the global struggle against anti-Blackness and Canada’s second consecutive failure to win a seat on the UN Security Council.”

The Greens, like other parties, generally treat foreign policy as an afterthought. There were two pages on international affairs at the end of their 82-page election platform last year. Of nine Green leadership candidates only Dimitri Lascaris, Andrew West and Amita Kuttner appear to have mentioned international affairs in their policy platforms.

When the Greens do engage on international issues, they are all over the place. Resolutions passed at conventions are generally pretty good and one of the three Green MPs, Paul Manly, has signed the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute’s call for a “fundamental reassessment of Canadian foreign policy”, released following Canada’s second consecutive defeat in its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Leadership front runner, Lascaris, has put forward a bold foreign policy platform that includes a call for Canada to withdraw from NATO and to reduce military spending by 50%. In 2011 outgoing Green leader Elizabeth May was the only MP to vote against Canada’s bombing of Libya.

But, May has also taken many pro-imperial positions. As I detailed a year ago in “Green leader May supports same old pro-imperialist foreign policies”, she’s lent her name to numerous initiatives targeting Iran and Venezuela organized by Irwin Cotler, a vicious anti-Palestinian who aggressively criticizes ‘enemy’ states while largely ignoring rights violations committed by Canada and the US. Even if she’s come around somewhat on the subject, May forced a special party convention in 2016 because she refused to accept the clearly stated will of party members to support “the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (BDS) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories].”

If politicians aren’t under constant pressure from social movements and progressive organizations they tend to follow the dominant media’s depiction of international affairs or gravitate towards individuals like Cotler, who no progressive should follow. In that sense May’s positions reflect the left’s failures as much as her own. If the left was as organized regarding international issues as on domestic affairs it’s unlikely she would have participated in Cotler’s press conferences targeting Venezuela and Iran.

The Rabble and Canadian Foreign Policy Institute leadership debate needs to be viewed within this optic. It’s about raising expectations and strengthening the Left’s foreign policy ecosystem.

Independent Jewish Voices and Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East took a step in that direction. They recently surveyed the candidates on their Middle East policy. (Lascaris received top marks and Meryam Haddad was in second place while the top fundraiser in the leadership race, Annamie Paul, received bottom marks.)

The CJPME/IJV survey ups the left’s game on foreign policy. But this type of internationalist intervention needs to be adopted more broadly. It would be great if the newly formed Canadian Latin America Alliance had the resources to do a similar survey on Venezuela, Bolivia and Honduras or if Solidarity Québec Haiti could force the candidates to take a position on Canada’s role in Haiti (Lascaris participated in a discussion held by Solidarity Québec Haiti member Jean Saint-Vil). We also need groups hounding the candidates on Canada’s international mining behemoth, large government-backed arms export industry and the legality of Canadian sanctions.

Any individual seeking to lead a major political party should expect to be pressed to articulate their positions on Canada’s foreign policy. The Green leadership debate is an opportunity to ‘centre’ a left discussion of Canadian foreign policy.

Every progressive in this country should be eager to hear what the Green candidates have to say about “Canada’s place in the world”.

 

If you want to vote in the Green Party leadership election you have to become a member of the party by September 3.  It costs $10. 

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Elizabeth May accepts right-wing billionaire’s debate

images-1It is great that Elizabeth May wants to debate foreign policy issues, but why would the Green Party leader want to participate in an event designed and controlled by an organization funded by right-wing capitalists who profit from the super exploitation of poor people and countries across the planet?

In recent days Munk Debates has repeatedly run a Facebook ad calling on individuals to pressure other party leaders to agree to their debate. It notes, “thank you Elizabeth May and Andrew Scheer for accepting our invitation to participate in the Munk federal election debate on foreign policy. Help us convince Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau to take part in the debate by visiting our website. Email Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau. More debates = more democracy.”

Generally, political debates do reflect vibrant democracy but that is not necessarily the case when the forum was set up and financed by one of Canada’s richest and most right-wing capitalists. Through his Aurea Foundation, Peter Munk, the founder of rapacious global mining firm Barrick Gold, established Munk Debates a decade ago. Peter’s son Anthony Munk is on the committee overseeing the debate series.

Set up to promote Peter Munk’s vision of the world, the Aurea Foundation has doled out millions of dollars to right-wing think tanks such as the Fraser Institute, Canadian Constitution Foundation and Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Now deceased, Peter Munk espoused far-right political views. In 1997 he publicly praised dictator Augusto Pinochet for “transforming Chile from a wealth-destroying socialist state to a capital-friendly model that is being copied around the world” while two years later the Canadian Jewish News reported on a donation Munk made to an Israeli University and speech in which he “suggested that Israel’s survival is dependent on maintaining its technological superiority over the Arabs.” In 2006 he attacked leftist Bolivian president Evo Morales and the next year wrote a letter to the Financial Times comparing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to Hitler. In a March 2011 Globe and Mail interview Munk dismissed criticism of Barrick’s security force in Papua New Guinea by claiming “gang rape is a cultural habit” in that country and he responded to a 2014 Economist question about whether “Indigenous groups appear to have a lot more say and power in resource development these days” by saying “globally it’s a real problem. It’s a major, major problem.”

In the lead-up to the 2015 election 50,000 individuals and 175 group signed a petition calling for a debate on women’s issues. It never happened, but in a sign of how “money talks” in politics, a Munk foreign policy debate did. And the questions asked were in line with the debate sponsor’s worldview.

This election tens of thousands have called on CBC to hold a climate change debate, but it has yet to be scheduled. Instead, the Conservatives, who would rather not discuss the environment, and the Greens have agreed to another debate organized by a billionaire’s foundation.

There are two ways to look at May’s participation in the Munk Debate.

  • Having been excluded from previous election debates, she is simply keen to partake in these forums and is sincerely committed to an exchange of ideas.
  • And/or, May’s decision to participate in this right wing circus means she is comfortable participating in the Munk Debate because she shares much of their foreign policy outlook. (I detailed this in “Green leader May supports same old pro-imperialist foreign policies.”)

To avoid reinforcing this impression, May could have conditioned her participation in the debate on the Rideau Institute or Project Ploughshares playing a role in determining the questions or co-sponsoring the debate.

While it is good May is willing to debate international issues, the devil is in the details. And if one of those details is committing to the interests of billionaire capitalists, banks and mining companies, instead of ordinary people around the globe, then the Green Party leader is just another establishment politician.

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Green leader May supports same old pro-imperialist foreign policies

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Elizabeth May and prominent Israel apologist Irwin Cotler.

Does Elizabeth May hate Palestinians? Does the Green Party leader want the Trump administration to attack Iran? Does she support efforts to overthrow Venezuela’s government?

I’ve been asking myself these questions since reading a Canadian Jewish News story about Paul Manly’s recent victory in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith bi-election. In a story titled “Concerns raised over new Green MP’s views on BDS” May strongly implies that the Palestinian civil society led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement is racist. “We have nothing to do with BDS,” May is quoted as saying. “We repealed it. We are not a party that condones BDS. We would never tolerate anybody in our party who violates our core values, who are anti-Semitic.”

May is seeking to downplay the significance of Manly’s election to anti-Palestinian forces, particularly within the NDP. Only the second MP ever elected under the Green banner, Manly was blocked from running for the NDP in the 2015 federal election because he defended his father (a former NDP MP) after Israel detained him as he sought to break the illegal blockade of Gaza.

In the CJN interview May also appears to boast that she forced the party to spend $100,000 to overturn an August 2016 convention resolution in which members voted for “the use of divestment, boycott and sanctions (BDS) that are targeted to those sectors of Israel’s economy and society which profit from the ongoing occupation of the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories].” In response to the clearly stated will of party members, May threatened to resign if the party didn’t revisit the issue and then announced that a special general meeting would be held four months later to discuss the party’s stance on Palestine. She then fired three members of her shadow cabinet for defending the party’s new Palestine policy from attacks by the head of the British Columbia Greens. Before what was shaping up to be an embarrassing defeat, May endorsed a compromise resolution at the special convention that dropped the BDS formulation in favour of support for “economic measures such as government sanctions, consumer boycotts, institutional divestment, economic sanctions and arms embargoes” while simultaneously endorsing all three (versus just one in the initial resolution) goals of the BDS movement (“Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall”; Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”)

As May besmirched Palestinian civil society’s call for international solidarity, the Green leader stood with those pushing for war on Iran. Last week May attended a press conference organized by Irwin Cotler calling on Canada to impose sanctions on 19 Iranian officials and to follow the Trump administration in listing the country’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. May’s support for ramping up Canadian hostility towards Tehran takes place amidst increasingly bellicose moves by Washington that could lead to a war on Iran.

The press conference in Ottawa was part of parliament’s Iran Accountability Week, which Cotler established in 2012. May has participated in previous Iran Accountability Weeks alongside individuals such as Mark Dubowitz who Ynet, Israel’s largest English language news site, dubbed “The Man Who Fights Iran”. But, when current and former Green Party candidates organized a 2010 conference on a “just and sustainable peace” in Iran May told Postmedia it should be “canceled” because it was “unbalanced”.

May is a regular at events led by Cotler who has devoted much of his career to defending Israeli human rights violations. (His wife, Ariela Zeevi, was a “close confidant” of Likud founder Menachem Begin when the arch anti-Palestinian party was established to counter Labour’s dominance of Israeli politics. His daughters were part of the Israeli military and one of them ran in Israel’s recent election.) The Green leader is part of the Cotler-led Raoul Wallenberg All-Party Parliamentary Caucus for Human Rights and in 2014 she tweeted, “honouring Irwin Cotler, with Raoul Wallenberg Award. Tributes from John Baird, Justin Trudeau, Murray Rankin and me.”

May has participated in at least three press conferences organized by Cotler to call for the release of leading Venezuelan Leopoldo López. The Harvard-educated Lopez endorsed the military’s 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez and the leader of the hardline Voluntad Popular party was convicted of inciting violence during the 2014 “guarimbas” protests that sought to oust President Nicolas Maduro (Cotler later joined López’ legal team). According to a series of reports, Lopez was the key Venezuelan organizer of the recent plan to anoint Juan Guaidó interim president of Venezuela and on April 30 he escaped house arrest to join Guaidó in a failed coup bid.

In 2014 May met López’s wife Lilian Tintori who, reports The Guardian, met Donald Trump and other international players to build international support for the recent coup efforts. According to Cotler’s website, “MPs Irwin Cotler (Liberal) and Elizabeth May (Green) joined today with Lilian Tintori – international human rights campaigner and wife of imprisoned Venezuelan opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez – and their international legal counsel, Jared Genser, to call on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to release Mr. López immediately.”

Four months later May and Cotler met Carlos Vecchio, who Guaidó recently appointed as his phantom government’s “ambassador” to the US. Afterwards, the Green leader joined Cotler at a press conference to denounce the “deterioration of the human rights situation” in Venezuela.

While she’s criticized some Canadian foreign policy decisions, May rarely strays far from the liberal establishment worldview. In laying out her party’s 2015 election position in Esprit de Corps magazine May wrote, “the world needs more Canada” and argued,we should also support the United Nations’ ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine”, which was used to justify bombing Libya in 2011 and ousting Haiti’s elected government in 2004. In her article May also bemoaned that “defence expenditures are headed to an unprecedented low”, which is a bizarre criticism for an environmental minded politician to make. Previously, she backed the Conservative government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, a $60 billion effort to expand the combat fleet over three decades.

How to explain May’s positions? The Green leader represents a riding near a naval base and until a few years ago was studying to become a priest in a church with a history of theological Zionism. May clearly fears Jewish Zionist groups’ accusations of anti-Semitism and dabbles in philo-Semitism. (In 2015 May responded to a CJN request to make her pitch to Canadian Jewish voters by saying “you have been the heart and soul and conscience of Canada on many issues for a very long time… I would urge you to look at the Green party’s policies and platform and see if you don’t see yourself there. If you don’t, let me know, I certainly would apologize if we are not meeting the aspirations of Canadians who have done so much for this country.”) More generally, May is absorbed into the foreign policy swamp in Ottawa and has shown little willingness to defy the dominant media’s depiction of international affairs.

But if the Green Party wants to be seen as different from the tired, old, mainstream parties, it needs to move beyond the double-standard, cynical, anti-democratic, anti-human, pro-imperialist claptrap that our elites insist on selling us.

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