BDS fail: Canadian university rejects Israel boycott

Union at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia rejects a motion to boycott Israel.

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Elad Benari,

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A union at a university in British Columbia, Canada, has rejected a motion to boycott Israel.

On Sunday, the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at Simon Fraser University announced the results of a referendum calling to support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The referendum was defeated by a vote of 227 to 186, with 32 abstaining.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Hillel B.C., and StandWithUs Canada worked together to support a concerned group of pro-Israel students, instructors, and faculty who campaigned against this discriminatory resolution.

Nico Slobinsky, Director of CIJA’s office in the Pacific Region, welcomed the rejection of the proposal.

“We are pleased that the TSSU membership voted to reject BDS, which would have only served to undermine academic freedom and discriminate against Israelis,” Slobinsky said in a statement on Monday.

“These types of anti-Israel initiatives are at odds with the principles of inclusion and tolerance and often violate human rights codes by calling for discrimination on the basis of national origin; they have no place on a campus that purports to celebrate diversity and meaningful debate,” he added.

“We offer our sincere appreciation to the many union members who, by opposing the referendum, have spoken out passionately against discrimination based on national origin. We encourage the TSSU members and university administrators to continue opposing discrimination of any kind on their campus.”

StandWithUs Canada welcomed the rejection of the proposal as well.

"Ignoring the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict with this divisive vote not only damages peace efforts, but deepens divisions and marginalization of graduate students on campus. In a society that strives for the plurality and tolerance of multiculturalism, students should be able to attend their university without being subjected to a campaign that is rooted in hate," said Zina Rakhamilova, StandWithUs Canada Campus Coordinator, adding, "I'm glad that the SFU community saw through the misleading rhetoric and voted no."

In recent years, there have been attempts to promote BDS in several universities in Canada. Some of these attempts have been successful while others have failed.

In November, the General Council of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union voted down a proposal to transform its “BDS Ad Hoc Committee” into a permanent fixture of the organization.

Motions in favor of BDS were passed by Toronto's Ryerson University, York University and Windsor University, among others.

In January, a planned referendum at a university in London, Ontario, on whether to endorse BDS was cancelled after Jewish students successfully argued that it violated the mandate of the college’s student council.








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