This coming national election, Oct. 19, is a neck & neck & neck three-way race among the incumbent Conservatives, the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Liberals. The NDP is a democratic socialist party in the mold of Western European social democracy, that emerged in 2011 from decades as a distant third force (with a modest number of Members of Parliament and occasional victories in the provinces) to substantially overtake the Liberals for second place to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Polls show the NDP with a very slight lead, but the Liberals have surged back from near-oblivion under the leadership of Justin Trudeau (son of the late Liberal PM and JFK-like celeb Pierre Elliot Trudeau); it really is anybody’s ball game.
I studied in Montreal in the 1970s and actually campaigned for an NDP candidate there. I’m disappointed that the NDP and Liberals didn’t make a strategic agreement that would have guaranteed a Conservative defeat: in all ridings (parliamentary districts) where a Conservative won with only a plurality over Liberal and NDP candidates, they could have chosen one opposition candidate, depending on which party had more votes last time.
When I was in Montreal, the NDP’s national leader was David Lewis, an avuncular Jew with slightly Bundist leanings. He supported Israel’s right to security, while also expressing sympathy for Palestinian rights as integral to a peaceful resolution. His son, Stephen Lewis, led the NDP in Ontario in the 1970s, and has since taken career turns as a broadaster and diplomat.
David’s grandson, Avi, is married to Naomi Klein, the well-known radical activist and writer. Klein is somewhat simplistic in her uncharitable view of Israel, contending that Israeli security-related business interests are what has caused Israel’s move to the right in recent years — in line with her Shock Doctrine best-seller theory of “Disaster Capitalism,” and ignoring that pesky little matter of the Second Intifada.
But what brings me to this subject of Canada now is journalist Lisa Goldman’s Facebook post (she’s originally from Toronto) about an article in a Canadian cultural publication called The Walrus:
Jew v. Jew v. Jew v. Jew v. Jew v. Jew
Six journalists debate the question of why shrill partisanship is tearing apart the Canadian Jewish community
The Jewish issue adds relish to an already exciting election campaign. Prime Minister Harper has been outspoken in supporting Netanyahu’s policies (they are pictured together in this posts’s featured image). My reactions to this discussion:
- My surprise that a candidate identifing himself as a child of Holocaust survivors would become an issue.
- As one discussant indicated, why should it matter for Israel who Canada elects? Unlike the US (or even Europe), Canada is simply not significant enough as an ally or source of trade. He went on to suggest that Canada’s most important role in the world is to model a peaceful foreign policy and democratic values.
- I heartily agree with one of the participants who argues that standing with Netanyahu’s government is not the only way, nor the best, to express Zionist sympathies.
As a Canadian-Israeli, I continue to be disturbed by the predominant view among Canadian Jewry that Steven Harper is good for Israel. It’s high time that the Jews of the Diaspora came to the realization that support for Netanyahu and his policies is not equivalent to support for Israel. In fact, the opposite is true. Netanyahu is ruining Israel’s ties with the United States, enacting antidemocratic laws, negotiating with Hamas at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, and bringing the sense of despair among the Palestinian public to the boiling point. Canada may not be a leading player in the international arena but it is a player nonetheless, and Canadian Jews who hope to see a brighter future for Israel should support a candidate who rightfully criticizes the current Israeli Government’s practices rather than one who blindly supports them.