The president of the Green Party stepped down about a week after writing a pro-Israel blog post on the party’s website which prompted a significant backlash.
In the post called “Why Gaza makes me sad” that apparently generated quite a bit of backlash from Green Party supporters, President Paul Estrin wrote among other things that “Gazan officials tell their people to be killed while they hide in bomb shelters.This is worse than cowardice. It is vile and ugly and they should be put to shame. Instead, it is Israel who is put to shame.”
The Green Party sits on the left of the political spectrum and emphasizes environmentalism and so-called social justice. The party claims it is neutral in the Israel Palestinian dispute.
According to the Ottawa Citizen, Estrin’s opinion “angered many party supporters. Some threatened to resign or stop donating, so upset were they by the implication Estrin’s views reflected party policy.”
In an apparent attempt at damage control, Estrin followed up his original blog posting with an apology for not making it clear with a disclaimer that he was expressing his own perspective about what is going on in Gaza in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. “My intention was to give my personal viewpoint to our members in the spirit of dialogue. Some have mistaken my personal views to be the perspective of the Party and our Leader. Neither is true.”
Evidently that wasn’t sufficient to calm things down, because four days later, Estrin announced his resignation: “I am proud of all the successes and achievements made during my term as President of the Green Party of Canada. I never intended to create confusion or have any of my actions negatively impact the Party. Therefore, I tender my resignation, effective immediately.”
The Green Party’s PR spokesman claimed that Estrin wasn’t forced out of the Green Party for his pro-Israel, anti-Hamas beliefs and that he made the decision on his own to leave the job merely because of the “confusion” his blog caused. “It was nothing to do with his opinion or beliefs. It has to do with his role as the party president. There’s separation … between the political and the actual organization. He doesn’t have a role in policy.”
The Green Party has two seats in the 308 member House of Commons, the Canadian parliament. One of these seats is held by party leader Elizabeth May, the first Green ever to get elected to the legislative body. In response to the controversy, May said that “I didn’t know [Estrin] felt this way about Gaza. He had not raised this before.”
At the Green Party convention in late July, May said “I condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization for sending missiles into Israel, but the Israeli retaliation and the invasion of Gaza violates international law and humanitarian norms, and any Prime Minister of Canada worth his or her salt would say that as a friend and ally of Israel, ‘you’ve gone too far — you must move to peace talks.'”
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an unwavering supporter of the state of Israel.
[Image credit: Shaun Merritt]