Parliament to pass motion rejecting BDS

(JTA) – Canada’s Parliament stands poised to reject the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

The Liberals, who comprise the majority of seats in the House of Commons, said the party will support an opposition motion introduced Thursday calling on the House to formally reject the goals of the BDS movement.

The motion was introduced by Conservative MPs Tony Clement and Michelle Rempel.

Both the New Democratic Party and Green Party have indicated that they will oppose the motion on the basis of it being a free speech issue and not because they support the BDS movement.

“This is not a partisan issue,” said Clement, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, in leading off the debate. He called BDS a form of discrimination, “just like boycotts that have targeted Jews throughout history.”

Rejecting the BDS movement specifically, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said “the world will win nothing for boycotting Israel but depriving itself of the talents of its inventiveness,” adding, “We must fight anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

The motion states that “given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

The Canadian bill comes amid numerous initiatives condemning and banning attempts to boycott Israel in the United States – where state legislatures in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana passed anti-BDS resolutions – and in Europe.

Earlier this week, Britain’s government announced its plan to outlaw BDS. If passed, the measures will make Britain the second major European country with laws against boycotting Israel.

France passed such laws in 2003, and they have served as the basis for multiple convictions of BDS activists who were sentenced for incitement to discrimination or hate due to their actions on Israel.

On Tuesday, the City Council of Paris passed two declarative motions expressing the city’s rejection of attempts to boycott Israel.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs released this statement following the House of Commons debate:

“A clear, all-party consensus rejecting the divisive boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement was reaffirmed in the House of Commons today. One after the other, members of Parliament spoke up in support of Canada’s friendship with Israel and spoke out against efforts to delegitimize, isolate, and discriminate against Israel by advancing the false idea that Palestinians bear no responsibility for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“The boycott movement does not contribute to peace and is not pro-Palestinian. It is discrimination based on nationality, and it harms both Israelis and Palestinians alike by driving the two sides further apart. The BDS movement is a fringe movement and is outside genuine peace efforts that emphasize negotiation, fairness, and mutual responsibility.”

“We applaud our elected representatives for speaking out against BDS in the House of Commons today. There is clear agreement: BDS is hateful, divisive, and counter-productive.”

With files from the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.

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