Web Exclusive

Thomas Mulcair—Israel, Right or Wrong

“I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances.” [“…je suis un ardent supporter de toutes les instances et de toutes les circonstances d’Israël.”]*

~Thomas Mulcair, quoted in Canadian Jewish News, May 1st, 2008

Independent Jewish Voices promotes the application of international law and respect for human rights as the basis for the resolution of the ongoing conflict in Israel/Palestine. While IJV is politically non-partisan, we seek to ensure that our analysis is shared with those who are in a position to influence Canadian public policy. To that end, we are expressing our perspective on the positions taken by one of the candidates for leader of the federal New Democratic Party with respect to this conflict.

Thomas Mulcair is well known in Quebec. But except for readers of pro-Israel newspapers like the Canadian Jewish News and the Jewish Tribune, people in Quebec and English Canada are not familiar with his unquestioning support for Israel.

It is Mulcair’s single-minded support of Israel that has been a major factor behind the NDP’s equivocation when it comes to supporting Palestinian human rights and applying international law to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Since his bye-election victory in 2007 in Outremont and his subsequent appointment as deputy NDP leader, he has used his influence in the NDP caucus to stymie Members of Parliament who wanted to support initiatives like the 2006 NDP Policy Resolution on Israel/Palestine, which spoke out against Israeli injustices.

In 2008 Mulcair led a caucus revolt against Jack Layton when Layton criticized the Harper government’s decision not to participate in the United Nations Conference on Racism. Mulcair agreed with the Conservatives’ declaration, echoing Israeli government statements, that the conference was “anti-semitic” because of it made mention of certain Israeli injustices.

Mulcair was later successful in muting NDP criticism of the January 2009 Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which killed 1400 civilians, as well as the subsequent Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla, which killed 9.

In 2010, Mulcair took the extraordinary step of publicly criticizing Libby Davies, the BC MP who is the conscience of the federal NDP caucus on Palestinian rights, and joined with Stephen Harper and Bob Rae of the Liberals in calling for her resignation as NDP House Leader when she commented in response to a reporter’s question that the occupation of Palestine had begun in 1948.

In November 2010 Mulcair, together with Conservative Jason Kenney and Liberal Michael Ignatieff, condemned Israeli Apartheid Week activities organized on university campuses across Canada as “anti-semitic”. These politicians’ characterization of this widely supported campaign, which is designed to draw attention to ongoing Israeli transgressions against international law and human rights, fits right in with a range of attacks on freedom of speech that have been mounted by Israel and its unquestioning supporters.

Independent Jewish Voices believes that at a time when the Conservatives and Liberals are vying to see who can be more pro-Israeli and when Stephen Harper is tarnishing Canada’s reputation by defending every Israeli outrage on the international stage, it is vitally important for the NDP to choose a leader who will support peace, international law and human rights in Israel/Palestine. In our view, Thomas Mulcair’s kneejerk support for Israel, regardless of how it behaves, demonstrates that he is not such a leader.

Thomas Mulcair’s uncritical support for Israel does not reflect the fundamental values of NDP members in Quebec or in English Canada. We are confident that they will send him that message once they become fully aware of his position.

Fabienne Presentey and Sid Shniad are members of the steering committee of Independent Jewish Voices Canada. Originally published on the IJV website.


  • Thank you for this very important information, which I was completely unaware of.  Like all right-thinking people, I support Israel’s right to exist; however, I am adamantly opposed to any nation that sees its actions as above criticism.  History teaches us that such unbridled hubris never ends well.

    I am very disappointed to learn of Mulcair’s refusal to think critically about Israel, and realize now, despite earlier hopes, that he clearly is not the person to fairly and effectively represent Canadian views and values as the leader of the NDP. Yet in these politically-charged times, I am hard-pressed to think of who might be able to do so.

    #1. Posted by Lorne in dundas on December 1st 2011 at 1:29pm

  • I find Muclair utterly discussting in his unoquical support of Israel and much rather see our Party go down in flames then be led by a pro Zionest pig like him. It’s almost as if people like him (Muclair) thinks that these people (Palestinians) were Aliens from Outter Space ! To muzzle the Caucus from speaking out against the attrocities committed against the Palestinian people is all the evidence I need to see to know that this man is a bigot because he puts the value of life of one race of people ahead of that of another. That makes him a Racist ! Plain and simple. Just like Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, These Zionist A-holes have no value on any other Human life except that of the Jews. A lot of Idots out here are going to read what I wrote here and just write of everything wrote to being just anti-semetism, to them I’d like to say that I believe that the two greatest human beings that ever lived are Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, both of whom were Jewish and both of whom were also anti Zionest ! I am not anti Jew, I am anti Zionest because Zionism is Racism and anyone who dosn’t think so should get out a dictionary and look up the meaning of the word Racism and figure it out. Under the Laws of the Zionist Jewish State of Israel today, a Jew born outside of Israel has more rights and claims to land in Israel today then a Palestinian or any other Race for that matter born in Israel today. Who in the hell can say that that isn’t RACISM ? I find it so hipocritical of Zionist Jews today who give examples of how they were persecuted in Nazi Germany by not being alloted the rights as citizens when at the same time they support that same policy today in the Jewish state of not allowing non Jews to become citizens of Israel. I hope some day that these Zionist’s acknowledge these hippocrocies and that they (Zionists) start valuing all human life equally.

    #2. Posted by Colin in Mississauga, On on January 19th 2012 at 5:03am

Commenting disabled.

Jack Layton, former Federal Leader, NDP

Canadian Dimension offers progressive Canadians a rare forum for open political debate. Four words: thoughtful, persistent, challenging, unflinching. Forty years on, CD is still providing spirited debate.

— Jack Layton, former Federal Leader, NDP. SUBSCRIBE NOW!