Time to stop Israeli military recruiting in Canada

NDP MP Matthew Green is sponsoring a parliamentary petition that calls for the minister of justice to take action
Photo: Palestinian girls at an IDF checkpoint in Hebron. (Ronan Shenhav / Flickr)
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Thank you, Matthew Green. The MP from Hamilton Centre should be applauded for taking the pro-Palestinian wishes of NDP members seriously. In a courageous move he recently sponsored a parliamentary petition calling for an investigation into illegal Israeli military recruitment in Canada.

Earlier this month delegates to the NDP convention overwhelmingly supported the Palestine Resolution. Their vote confirmed where NDP members’ sympathies lie and hopefully will embolden the party to stand up for Palestinian rights more actively.

The petition points out that “the IDF has repeatedly contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention, and illegally attacked Syria and Lebanon by missile or by drone.” It adds that the Israeli military “has shot and injured at least two Canadian citizens since 2015” and that “the Israeli consulate in Toronto has advertised on several occasions an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) representative available for personal appointments for those wishing to join the IDF, not just those who are required to do mandatory service.”

Submitted by Rabbi David Mivasair, the petition has already been signed by more than a thousand individuals.

Under Canada’s Foreign Enlistment Act, it is a crime to recruit people for a foreign military or to aid and abet recruitment by offering incentives or encouraging someone to serve in a foreign military. The Act states, “Any person who, within Canada, recruits or otherwise induces any person or body of persons to enlist or to accept any commission or engagement in the armed forces of any foreign state or other armed forces operating in that state is guilty of an offence.”

The parliamentary petition concludes with a call for the minister of justice to investigate anyone involved in recruiting for the IDF, and if warranted to lay charges.

Submitted by Rabbi David Mivasair, the petition has already been signed by more than a thousand individuals, which is far more than the number required to be presented in the House of Commons. In 2019 the Israeli consulate in Toronto announced: “An IDF representative will conduct personal interviews at the Consulate on November 11-14. Young people who wish to enlist in the IDF or anyone who has not fulfilled their obligations according to the Israeli Defense Service Law are invited to meet with him.” The consulate has also sought to induce young people to enlist by arranging for IDF soldiers and veterans to speak in schools, summer camps and elsewhere.

Canadians staff some of the checkpoints in the West Bank and many Canadians have fought in Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza.

In a similar vein, United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto and Combined Jewish Appeal Montréal publicized a webinar last June titled “Joining the IDF.” It claimed to offer participants “everything you need and want to know about joining the IDF.”

According to IDF statistics, 230 Canadians served in the Israeli military in 2017. More recently, the IDF reported that 9 per cent of about 3,000 “lone soldiers” — the term used to refer to soldiers without immediate family in Israel — were from Canada. It is unclear how many of these individuals were recruited in ways that may have violated the Foreign Enlistment Act.

However they joined the Israeli military, it is wrong that Canadians oversee the brutal occupation of Palestine. During a trip to the World Education Forum a decade ago, I saw firsthand the immense separation wall and segregated roads in the West Bank. I witnessed checkpoints with their parapets and machine guns and talked to Palestinians whose olive trees had been uprooted and homes razed by the Israeli army. Canadians staff some of the checkpoints in the West Bank and many Canadians have fought in Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza.

On Thursday MP Green shared a video of Jewish extremist settlers attacking Palestinians in Jerusalem with the tweet “Sending solidarity to Palestinians under violent Jewish ethno nationalist attacks in Jerusalem today.” He noted that Canadians interested in holding their government accountable to their own laws related to Israel’s occupying military could add their name to the petition.

Matthew Green should be congratulated for listening to NDP members. His parliamentary petition is a boost to Canadians seeking to halt illegal Israeli military recruitment and bring justice to Palestinians.

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