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Jewish groups tell Eby to address antisemitism in B.C. NDP caucus

VANCOUVER — Three groups representing B.C’s Jewish community say Premier David Eby needs to address antisemitism in the ruling NDP caucus and beyond after former cabinet minister’s Selina Robinson’s decision to quit the party.

Robinson announced Wednesday she had left the party and would sit as an independent, citing antisemitism in the caucus and indifference to the problem.

The open letter by the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, the Rabbinical Association of Vancouver and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says they are “profoundly saddened” by Robinson’s exit and the treatment she says she suffered.

They say Eby needs to “demonstrate leadership” and deal with antisemitism in his caucus, his government, and B.C. as a whole.

Robinson, who is Jewish, resigned as post-secondary education minister last month after saying modern Israel was founded on “a crappy piece of land,” sparking outcry from pro-Palestinian groups that called the comments racist and Islamophobic.

In an impromptu news conference at the B.C. legislature on Wednesday, Robinson said her heart had been “shattered” by her treatment and said there were antisemitic voices within the NDP caucus.

The Jewish group’s letter issued late Wednesday says the community was already feeling vulnerable in light of the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the resulting conflict with Hamas.

NDP house leader Ravi Kahlon on Wednesday denied there was antisemitism in the caucus and said Eby has been a staunch advocate of anti-racism initiatives.

Robinson also said she felt she was a victim of double standards and her voice was no longer being heard within the party.

The letter from the Jewish groups says they have relied on “strong voices at the cabinet table to advocate” on the behalf of their community, and that recent polling showed 75 per cent of B.C. residents are concerned about rising antisemitism in the province.

In a post on social media platform X late Wednesday, NDP Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Katrina Chen said that “not wanting to see more kids and people die in Gaza is not antisemitism.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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