University of Ottawa rejects BDS

Students at the University of Ottawa vote down motion to endorse BDS.

Elad Benari,

Ottawa
Ottawa
iStock

Students at the University of Ottawa, Canada's capital, have voted down a motion to endorse the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The motion was amended to remove all language related to BDS, and replace it with a statement of support for peace between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.

StandWithUs Canada welcomed the move on Sunday.

The motion was first brought up on Friday, hours before many Jewish students stop working in order to observe Shabbat, said StandWithUs Canada in a statement.

The Student Federation (SFUO) at the university came forward with a motion to endorse a number of social justice causes, with item 47 being that the SFUO will support the BDS movement and take a "pro-Palestine stance". This came shortly after the SFUO tried to revoke the club status of Hillel Ottawa and the Israel Awareness Committee.

Within 36 hours, students mobilized to fight the inclusion of a campaign of hate against Israelis in a motion about social justice. Rotem Fellus, a StandWithUs Canada Emerson fellow and an executive member of the Israel Awareness Committee said, "As a Jewish and Israeli student attending the University of Ottawa, I was shocked to see this discriminatory motion brought forward right before Shabbat. I am proud of how our community mobilized on such short notice to defeat this hateful campaign."

"BDS has no place in campaigns for social justice. Its inclusion in SFUO's motion harms not only Jews and Israelis, but all communities that face discrimination in Canada," said Zina Rakhamilova, Canadian Campus Director at StandWithUs.

"No one benefits from this campaign of hate, which only serves to harm students while fueling more injustice and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians," added Rakhamilova.

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.

At the end of October, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) voted against a motion in favor of adopting BDS, thanks to students who organized a campaign opposing the motion.

In May, the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia rejected a call to support BDS.

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.

Last 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.


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