Shalom Life | April 19, 2015

McGill University Votes No, Again, To BDS Against Israel

The Student’s Society of McGill University voted no to another attempt to introduce the school to the BDS movement against Israel by the student run Palestinian group

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: March 17th, 2015 in News » World

Photo: McGill University


Once again Montreal’s McGill University has defeated a motion urging the school, and its students, to participate in the BDS movement against Israel and Israeli companies. The vote, a secret ballot which resulted in 212 for, 276 against, with 9 voters abstaining, was held at the General Assembly of the Student’s Society of McGill University (SSMU) this past Sunday.

The motion was put forth by the school’s student run Solidarity for Palestine Human Rights (SPHR), and has been the second anti-Israel motion they’ve tried to have passed in the last academic year. According to Canadian Jewish News, the group tried to have a bill passed which would have students “stand in solidarity with the people of the occupied Palestinian territories” while condemning Israel's “illegal” control in Gaza. Unfortunately for them, the motion was defeated 402 to 337.

This second motion was fought intensely by the student-run group Israel on Campus at McGill. They took to social media to help their cause and launched the “SSMU for All Students” campaign along with the hashtag #EnoughisEnough.

This motion, however, was much more aggressive and it asked that McGill stop investing or working with international corporations such as Re/Max, Oshkosh, and Volvo due to their current activity in the “illegal” territories, which should be taken as them being complicit with human rights violations the SPHR believes Israel has committed.

It also asked that SSMU, and the 30,000 odd students it represents, should work in collaboration with SPHR to help bring school administrations and students the “truth” as Israel’s illegal activities and violations against human rights of Palestinian citizens.

Before the motion was voted on, students from both sides of the debate were able to discuss issues in front of an assembly. Zara Habib, encouraging the motion be passed, to his peers, “This motion is not contesting Israel’s right to exist. It is pointing out several actions of corporations. Why would anyone be against that?”

However, several students who voted against the bill were quick to point out that these restrictions on business in the area would hurt the Palestinian Territories, and its citizens, more than it would Israel. They also voiced concern that by only promoting what the SPHR considers to be “truth,” it would monopolize the media and give students an unfair look into the Palestine/Israel conflict.

The news of the undergraduate’s student organization also got the attention of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA)

“The McGill students have once again made their position clear,” Rabbi Reuben Poupko, a CIJA Quebec executive member, said, reports CJN. “They will not permit a polarizing and obsessive campaign designed to ostracize a group of students to have a place on campus. Inherent in the BDS movement is the bizarre idea that in the complex dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, one side is to blame for the failure of the peace process.”

Meryle Kates, director of the pro-Israel StandWithUs Canada, said in a statement, “We congratulate all of the student leaders who stood up to fight against this divisive anti-peace, anti-justice motion. McGill’s BDS campaign attempted yet again to single out one country, one people, and demonstrated clearly that their goals are racist because they target only on country in the world for condemnation.”

Jewish organisations weren’t the only ones celebrating SSMU’s rejection of SPHR’s motion. Local politicians, like Cote St. Luc Mayor Anthony Housefather and Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, also supported fighting the SPHR’s motion. Justin Trudeau even tweeted soon after the victory was announced, “The BDS Movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses. As a McGill alum, I’m disappointed [the motion was introduced].”

“As a pro-Palestinian student group in Canada,” the SPHR said in regards to Trudeau’s Tweet, “it seems that our voices do not matter, even if we are advocating against injustices and violations of human rights that have already been condemned internationally… Once again, Israel is being singled out with unconditional support from government officials.”

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