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Since Israel restarted its siege on Gaza, provincial and federal New Democratic Party leadership has expended enormous effort—not on opposing Israeli imperialism—but on expelling, repressing, and slandering anyone rising in defense of the Palestinians.

Over the past month, provincial and federal NDP leaders have attacked party members, activists and even elected officials like Sarah Jama, all to prove their loyalty to imperialism.

‘Upholding’ Israel’s right to kill Palestinians

Since Israel restarted its airstrikes on Gaza after a surprise Hamas attack on October 7, nearly 9,000 Palestinians have been killed, and over one million have been displaced at the time of writing.  Already, UN experts have warned that the war will mean “mass ethnic cleansing” across Gaza. And, around the world, millions have come onto the streets opposing Israel’s war. 

But Israel’s war does have the support of Justin Trudeau’s government both diplomatically and in the form of millions of dollars in arms exports, and a secret deployment of Canadian commandos.  

Trudeau, in turn, has found a crucial ally in his coalition partner: the NDP. As Rabble explains, much like the Liberals, “Official New Democratic policy is that Canada is correct in upholding Israel’s right to defend itself;” that is, in upholding Israel’s “right” to kill Palestinians.  

Israel’s bombs have killed thousands of Palestinian men, women and children, leveling hospitals, mosques, churches, schools, and the like. But NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has saved his condemnation for pro-Palestine protesters, falsely claiming their support for Palestine is about “celebrating” Hamas. And, worse, when protesters entered the party’s 2023 federal convention, chanting “Free, Free Palestine,” the party leadership called the police.

The NDP policy was made clearer still earlier this month, when federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh joined Trudeau and others at a conference hosted by Canada’s most-prominent pro-Israel lobby group.  There, as Canadian Jewish News reported, from Trudeau to Singh, “Delegates to the conference heard leaders of Canada’s political parties pledge to support Israel.”

The federal NDP’s position has been adopted by its provincial counterparts. In a leaked email to the Ontario NDP caucus, leader Marit Stiles’ office demanded its MPPs avoid pro-Palestine demonstrations and put forward the federal party’s line in the interest of “unity and care.

When Hamilton Centre MPP Sarah Jama broke the party’s pro-Israel “unity” and called for an end to Israeli terror, she was sharply denounced. Jama’s benign statement read: “We must look to the solution to this endless cycle of death and destruction: end all occupation of Palestinian land and end apartheid.”  

For this, she was rebuffed, first by the right-wing but, soon enough, also by the NDP leadership. Within hours, ONDP leader Marit Stiles demanded a retraction and an apology as Jama’s statement “does not reflect our party’s position, which is articulated in our federal party’s statement.” 

Several columnists have inferred that the ONDP took issue with Jama using the phrase “apartheid.” The reality is that Israel does discriminate against Palestinians in law and oppress them in deed. This is clear for all to see. In fact, if anything, the oppression the Palestinians have suffered for over 75 years is worse than apartheid.

This is reflected in opinion polls too. Just last month, another poll found a majority of Canadians view Israel as a state with “segregation similar to apartheid,” or at least one with “restricted minority rights.”

Under pressure, Jama apologized. But as usual, this only emboldened the supporters of Israeli imperialism inside and outside the party. 

As the old adage goes, weakness invites aggression and following her apology, Jama was unceremoniously expelled from the NDP caucus.

Immediately, the Hamilton District Labour Council and other labor organizations condemned the attack on Jama as an attack on the right to oppose Israel’s war. 

As the HDLC explained

“This occupation of Palestine didn’t start or end with a single Hamas attack in 2023. Palestinians have been oppressed in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem for 75 years. That MPP Jama was called out for a statement exposing the continuing historical apartheid and colonial occupation instead of just the events of the previous couple of days, was definitely her prerogative, factually accurate, and has been proven to be on point in the intervening time.”

The NDP’s bad track record on Israel-Palestine

Since Jama’s expulsion, Stiles and the ONDP bureaucracy have tried to save face. With a ridiculous level of cynicism and hypocrisy the ONDP leadership have employed identity politics. This took the form of them tabling legislation to recognize “colonialism,” as an “intersectional social determinant of health.” It is difficult to imagine a more performative statement after expelling someone for taking a difficult stand against the oppression of one of the most oppressed people on the face of the planet. 

Elsewhere, the ONDP  has tried to claim that they didn’t expel Jama for supporting Palestine but for being “difficult,” and taking “unilateral actions.”

But no one is fooled. After all, the party’s attack on Jama is part of a long pattern.

Just over a year ago, Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden was baselessly branded an antisemite by the Toronto Sun for accurately noting that Israel’s government feels “no shame” about violating international law. Harden continued to discuss his efforts to unite Palestinian and Jewish community members against Israel’s oppression of Palestine. 

Immediately, NDP interim leader Peter Tabuns “forcefully” demanded Harden apologize. Tabuns made it clear in the process that even mild criticisms of Israel of this sort have, in his words, “no place in our party.”

A year earlier, federal NDP MP Niki Ashton was censured by the party’s leadership for hosting an online discussion with former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn because he too has spoken in support of Palestine.  

Elsewhere, Singh himself has leveled false allegations of antisemitism at pro-Palestine activists like Dimitri Lascaris and personally joined a CIJA-sponsored trip to Israel meant to launder the Zionist state’s reputation.

The party’s treatment of Jama and others on the left, moreover, contrasts starkly against how it has treated the federal Liberal government.

While the Federal NDP has pivoted to asking Trudeau to push Israel into ceasefire talks, Trudeau has mostly ignored them, refusing to even utter the word. Technically, the Liberal government is only alive due to NDP support so if the NDP leadership really cared about the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, they could move to bring the government down over their support for Israeli imperialism. But so far, in typical fashion, Singh has done nothing more than insist Trudeau push for a ceasefire.

The leaders of what is nominally Canada’s labour party have been willing to break with its own members, much of the labour movement, and even their own elected officials who support Palestine. But, their support for the federal government and its military allies is effectively unwavering.

Why the Canadian government supports Israel (and  why the NDP does too)

Over the past month, Canada’s major political parties have again all backed Israel’s “right” to kill Palestinians, from the Conservatives to the NDP.  

The commonality between these parties and all the parties represented in parliament is, fundamentally, that they accept the existence of capitalism and the rule of the capitalist class. 

Ultimately, that means they all accept the existence of imperialism.  

Canada is an imperialist power—exporting billions of dollars in pursuit of cheap labour and raw materials all over the world. And, it is an ally of US imperialism, which works towards the same ends. In order to maintain its economic domination, US imperialism, in league with other Western imperialist powers like Canada, supports Israel as their only stable ally in the region, as a reliable bulwark of imperialist reaction abroad.   

As we’ve explained before, whenever the interests of American and Western capitalism have been threatened in the Middle East or North Africa, the Israeli State—chiefly its military and airforce—have been at the ready. Describing Israel’s relationship to the United States, the Israeli newspaper Ha’Aretz explained exactly this in 1951:

“Israel is to become the watchdog. There is no fear that Israel will undertake any aggressive Policy towards the Arab states when this would explicitly contradict the wishes of the US and Britain. But if for any reasons the Western powers should sometimes prefer to close their eyes, Israel could be relied upon to punish one or several neighboring states whose discourtesy to the West went beyond the bounds of the permissible.”

War is a continuation of politics by other means. 

The NDP leadership, who long ago abandoned even the pretense of the struggle for socialism, plays the game of “realistic” politics under capitalism. This is why they sell their soul to the devil for peanuts and prop up the Liberal government who in turn carry on a predatory policy abroad. Falling over themselves not to appear too “radical” they bend to bourgeois pressure on every major issue.

This is also why the NDP prop up the Liberals in spite of them lavishing the capitalists with bailouts at home, while at the same time massively increasing Canada’s military spending and military aid to its “allies” to serve them abroad. The NDP have aided and abetted this entire process. 

Fight imperialism

While all of Canada’s parliamentary parties, at bottom, support Israel’s right to wage war on Gaza, this does not at all reflect the opinion of regular working class Canadians.

Despite a massive barrage of pro-war propaganda, when a polling agency asked ordinary Canadians if they agree that “Canada should support Israel in its current armed conflict against Hamas,” 41 per cent disagreed, compared to just 38 per cent who agreed. 

Increasingly, working class people oppose Israeli imperialism. They see they do not have an interest in supporting the oppression of Palestine or the killing of Palestinian people. 

As this current war continues and it becomes increasingly clear that the capitalists have lied to us, we can expect this opposition to grow.

But opposition alone means little if it isn’t organized and we don’t have a clear idea what we are fighting for. 

This opposition must be mobilized and organized into a revolutionary current, against imperialism. It must sweep away the Trudeaus, the Bidens and the Netanyahus and the capitalist class they represent. 

The fight against imperialism will also mean abandoning any hopes of “unity” with the ruling class’ agents in the labour movement. The workers’ movement is not made any stronger by uniting with those who support the murder of workers abroad.

Freeing Palestine from Israeli imperialism will require a movement against its foundations. The imperialist monster which oppressed the Palestinians and constantly meddles in the Middle East rests on the foundation of the capitalist system. This is why as revolutionary communists, we believe that we need to unite the struggle against Israeli imperialism with the struggle of workers all over the world against the capitalist system as a whole.