Last month we learned that the federal NDP, under the leadership of Thomas Mulcair, had rejected the candidacy bid of well-known Nanaimo filmmaker Paul Manly. Manly had been seeking his party’s nomination for the new federal riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith in British Columbia, in preparation for the next federal election.
While the federal NDP executive gave no written reasons for culling him from the line-up, they told Manly in a phone conversation that they dumped him because of social media postings he had made nearly two years earlier when his father Jim Manly was in Israel.
The elder Manly, a retired federal New Democrat MP, was part of an international delegation of parliamentarians aboard the “Estelle” Freedom Flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza in October 2012. The boat was seized by Israeli commandos in international waters, and the occupants were imprisoned with no communication privileges.
A group of Toronto Jews, all NDP stalwarts, took exception to the censorial and heavy-handed approach of Mulcair and his federal executive in jettisoning Paul Manly as a prospective candidate for their party. On July 12, 2014, they sent the following letter to Mulcair:
July 12, 2014
Dear Mr. Mulcair:
Re: Paul Manly Denied Right to Seek Candidate Nomination for Federal NDP
The purpose of this letter is to express our dismay with the NDP decision to deny Paul Manly the right to be considered as a candidate for MP for the riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith, BC. This denial appears to be based on comments made by Mr. Manly regarding the NDP caucus’ refusal to speak out against actions taken by Israel against his father who was working in support of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories.
By way of introduction, some of us are members of the NDP, some are activists within the NDP, all of us vote for the NDP. One of us has acted as CFO for both provincial and federal candidates and has been a member of a riding association executive. We include a professor of equity studies, a social worker, an engineer, a human rights lawyer, and a student of Talmud.
We are all Jews, some Israeli citizens, we have all lived in Israel, some of us have given birth to and raised children in Israel and three of us have served in the Israeli Army. Two of us were born to Holocaust survivors, one of us spent years in a German Displaced Persons Camp, until Israel, and only Israel, provided a safe haven. We are fervent peace activists.
We believe in the right of Israel to exist and for Israelis to live in peace.
We also believe in the right of Palestinians to a homeland, to live in peace and to live with dignity. We speak out in support of those rights even when that has put us in opposition to those parts of the Jewish and Israeli communities that oppose holding Israel accountable for its oppressive, repressive, illegal and discriminatory actions against the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. We wish to change public opinion and the reality on the ground. We do not believe in going along with injustice in order to get along.
It is distressing to learn that the NDP joins with the Conservative Party of Canada in a slavish support of Israel, regardless of the truth of its abhorrent actions against the Palestinians. This NDP position is in contravention of NDP Policy, Montreal 2013, specifically section 4.1f, “Human rights and world peace” which states:
New Democrats believe in:
Working with partners for peace in Israel and Palestine, respecting UN resolutions and international law, supporting peaceful co-existence in viable, independent states with agreed-upon borders, an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and an end to violence targeting civilians.
Israel has illegally ruled the Occupied Territories for forty-seven years. Throughout this period, Israel has denied Palestinians the right to vote, the right to citizenship and the protection of civilian law. Palestinians are subjected to military rule and military law. By contrast, Jewish settlers of the Occupied Territories are protected by the Israeli civilian police and have all the privileges and advantages of citizenship. This Israeli government policy leaves Palestinians without the protection of either the military or civilian police from the often violent actions of the settlers.
We have been to the Occupied Territories, some of us as recently as 2 month ago, and have witnessed first hand the repression of Palestinians, without regard for age, abilities or gender. The denial of passage of pregnant women in ambulances through the checkpoints; the cruel insistence that young children wait for long periods of time in the blistering sun at a checkpoint, with no water, before being allowed to proceed to school; the holding of young Palestinian boys and men at checkpoints, randomly pulled from a line based on nothing but whim; the requirement that aged and infirm Palestinian men and women climb over and down rubble, pointlessly dumped in front of a checkpoint, even if using a cane or wheelchair or if mothers are pushing a stroller with one arm while carrying another young child in their other arm. University students denied access to their universities and given no explanation other than, “You are not getting through today.” All these people gathered the necessary documents, the very documents they were ordered to obtain. It didn’t matter. In the face of the Israeli brutality and intent to break the peoples’ spirit, Kafkaesque rules change on a dime causing people to be always on edge and at the mercy of the Israeli soldiers with no recourse.
It is reported that approximately three thousand Palestinian children have been arbitrarily detained from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, the majority of whom are between the ages of 12 and 15 years old. Seventy-five percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and twenty-five percent faced military trials. Are these the actions of a truly “democratic” state? How is this defensible by a political party that claims to value everyone in the human family?
Why is the NDP preventing its candidates, its MPs and its members from speaking out against these vile actions?
We respectfully request that you rescind the denial of Paul Manly the right to run for the nomination in his riding. His commitment to social justice makes him an exemplary NDP candidate.
We respectfully request that the NDP invite its members to discuss Israel’s anti-democratic, discriminatory and brutal actions against the Palestinian people and learn more about this issue. We further request that the NDP abide by its own policy along with the UN resolutions and the European Court of Human Rights decisions and reports regarding Israel, the illegal occupation and its negative implications for democracy and peace.
And lastly, we request a response from you on how you will open up this discussion.
Sheryl Nestel, Trinity-Spadina
Sydney Nestel, Trinity-Spadina
Sam Blatt, 327, St. Paul’s
Ronnee Jaeger, St. Paul’s
Zvi Gaster, Toronto-Danforth
Cheryl Gaster, Toronto-Danforth
Charlie Lior, Trinity-Spadina
Shlomit Segal, Davenport
Lev Jaeger, Davenport