Friday, August 12, 2016

Discussion of BDS movement toxic to mainstream politics

As a member of the Green Party of Canada, I am being asked by the party about my views on the recent resolution passed in support of the BSD movement.

Short answer

  • I do not support g16-p006, and believe the resolution should be repealed. I felt embarrassed as a party member to hear that the resolution was tabled and passed.
  • I do not support the motion of the Canadian Parliament that called upon the government to condemn those who promote the movement, and believe the motion should be repealed.  As a Canadian I felt embarrassed to hear that motion was tabled and passed.
I believe Mr. Clement's motion was trolling, and unfortunately some members of the Green Party decided to feed the troll.  This is a no-win scenario for the Green Party and Canadians generally, and the only way to minimize the loss is to exit the conversation quickly.

Longer answer

Having given my own thinking on these and related topic some thought, I came to realize I am part of the Freethought movement.  This goes beyond a support for a strong separation of church and state, which is the issue here, but also to my support for evidence for democracy, open government, and other related movements.

While I support people having their own beliefs, including religious, as part of their own personal lives, I don't believe that this has any place in governance.  Political decisions should be made "on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, revelation, or other dogma" (quote from Wikipedia on Freethought).  I don't believe religious states are legitimate states, and am uncomfortable when dogma (religious or otherwise) is used in decision making in self-called secular countries like Canada (which is more honestly understood as a Christian country that happens to be liberal and tolerant of other religious groups).

Boycott, divestiture and sanctions are all commonly used techniques to influence a political entity from the outside, and is nearly always understood as a better option than waging war.  It has a long history of being used by both individuals and countries in the west.

The fatal problem with what is now called the "BDS" movement is that it is focused on Israel.  As a freethinker I treat religious states equally, but western society does not.  This special treatment of Israel is most pronounced in North America. There is a strong emotional history when it comes to Israel and the guilt that western (and primarily white Christians) have when it comes to what was done to Jewish people during the second world war.   You can disagree with the emotion, but ignorance of it makes it impossible for you to have political influence.

There is a political technique of equating Israel with the Jewish faith, and equating any critique or either as antisemitism.  While there is no logic or reason to this political technique, it is a highly effective one.  Your logic or reason for being critical of policies of Israel simply don't matter, as the antisemitic label can be thrown at you and you are silenced.  You can disagree with this reality, but ignorance of it makes it impossible for you to have political influence.

I consider the arguments for or against boycotting, divesting, or sanctioning Israel to be largely irrelevant.  Please don't try to "convince" me of your particular position this topic in the comments. The mere discussion of any criticism of Israel will condemn you in the eyes of mainstream North American politics, and make it impossible for you to have political influence.


No matter what your emotions, the most logical course of action is to leave the hornets nest alone, not beat it with some form of moral indignation and then be surprised when you get stung.

The resolution needs to be repealed and the discussion within the Green Party needs to cease, other than for members to become more aware of why this debate should be left out of party politics.  I left the Green Party in the early 2000's for a while the last time the party (involving both the GPO and the GPC leadership) decided to involve themselves in this politically toxic discussion.  That time it was trying to boycott "David Icke" which had the predictable outcome of promoting this mentally unhealthy person's ideas both within and outside the party, and causing many members to leave the party.


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