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Boycott Calls Against Israel
Canada as a Battleground of BDS

07.04.16

Editorial Note

On the 22nd of February the Canadian Parliament has passed a motion to condemn “any and all attempts” to promote the BDS movement against Israel both at home and abroad. Since this motion doesn't really have teeth, as a counter effort, a group of activists opened an online petition addressing the Canadian government and provoking "GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY, CONDEMN ME".

Soon after, Canadian media reported that 45 members of staff in McGill university have signed a declaration endorsing BDS. This is a response to the BDS motion that was defeated in February.

Another tactic of BDS supporters on campus include silencing pro-Israel voices. For example the student association at University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) has denied access to campus to the group Hasbara Fellowships Canada.   Hasbara Fellowships fights anti-Israel trends on university campuses throughout Canada and provides pro-Israel students with the education, training, tools and support to defend and promote Israel on their campuses.  The Hasbara Fellowship requested and was denied the opportunity to participate in a campus social justice week event. The group was told it was rejected because the student association had passed a BDS motion and because of the group’s “ties to the state of Israel.”

However, the UOIT administrators issued a statement that the university opposes BDS and that the student association is a separate and independent organization.

As the Canadian BDS battlefield on campus continues, IAM will report on the developments.



FORTY-FIVE FACULTY MEMBERS AT MCGILL ENDORSE BDS
By CJN Staff -  April 3, 2016 

Forty-five McGill University faculty members have signed a letter endorsing the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.

They say they strongly disagree with principal Suzanne Fortier’s response to the BDS motion that was defeated by members of the Students’ Society of McGill University in late February.

Her statement repudiated BDS saying it is “contrary to the principles of academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness and the exchange of views and ideas in responsible, open discourse.”

The signatories counter that, saying, “For principal Fortier to denounce a movement defending the rights of Palestinians against those who are oppressing them is, in fact, what ‘flies in the face of tolerance and respect’ – not the BDS movement itself.”

They describe the campaign as “a measured, non-violent and principled civil society response to life under occupation and colonialism when a people’s basic rights are violated and denied.”

The McGill administration, as well as the Canadian Parliament which passed a motion condemning BDS and its advocates on Feb. 22, are “on the wrong side of history,” they state.

The faculty members say they will continue to support McGill students promoting BDS.

Among the names on the letter are: Aziz Choudry, Canada Research Chair in social movement learning and knowledge production; Allan Greer, Canada Research Chair in Colonial North America; Thomas Lamarre, James McGill Professor of East Asian studies; and Margaret Lock, Marjorie Bronfman professor emerita in the department of social studies in medicine.

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BDS MOTION FAILS AT MCGILL AFTER ONLINE VOTE
By Janice Arnold, Staff Reporter -  February 28, 2016 

MONTREAL — McGill University undergraduates have rejected a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) motion that was approved last week at a general assembly of their student association, and the university administration issued an unequivocal repudiation of the anti-Israel campaign.

Members of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), members voted 2,819-2,119, with 68 abstentions, online over three days last week, nullifying the motion put forward by the McGill BDS Action Network at the SSMU winter general assembly on Feb. 22. At that time, the motion passed 512-357, with 14 abstentions, in secret ballotting.

SSMU rules require that all motions carried at general assemblies must be ratified by the membership at large, with a quorum of 10 per cent.

The SSMU represents the approximately 22,000 undergraduates at McGill’s main downtown campus.

Immediately after the results were released Feb. 27, McGill principal and vice-chancellor Suzanne Fortier issued a statement that the university administration “steadfastly oppose[s]” the BDS campaign.

It was the third time in less than 1-1/2 years that pro-BDS students have failed to have a motion adopted. The latest was a general endorsement of the aims of the worldwide campaign launched in 2005 and included a specific demand that McGill divest its holdings in three companies the Network claims are “profiting from violations of Palestinians’ human rights” due to their alleged complicity in Israel’s occupation.

This was actually the fifth attempt to get BDS support on the student record since 2010.

With 57 per cent of SSMU voters refusing to ratify the motion, Fortier stated: “The university as an institution has not commented publicly until now out of respect for the student governance process. Students respect our governance process. We do not interfere with theirs, or their right to put such motions within the context of their affairs…

“[W]hile we respect the freedom of expression of all members of our community, the administration of the university will have no part of the BDS movement.”

She said the campaign’s call for universities to cut ties with Israeli universities “flies in the face of the tolerance and respect we cherish as values fundamental to a university. It proposes actions that are contrary to the principles of academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness and the exchange of views and ideas in responsible, open discourse.”

McGill has extensive academic relations with Israeli institutions going back many years.

The ratification failure and the university administration’s strong position on the issue of BDS were hailed by Jewish groups.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) termed it “the victory of reason over hate.”

CIJA Quebec co-chair Rabbi Reuben Poupko said the defeat of the motion “demonstrates that McGill students reject BDS and value intellectual freedom and the right to healthy and constructive debate. McGill students have clearly indicated, for the third time in 18 months, that BDS is unwelcome on their campus because it stigmatizes people for holding a different point of view.”

Some pro-Israel students reported experiencing insulting and hostile remarks, particularly on social media, since the motion was first proposed at the beginning of February.

B’nai Brith Canada said pro-Israel students at McGill have felt “targeted and unsafe” and “fear reprisals for speaking out,” in the words of Toronto-based CEO Michael Mostyn.

“The boycott organizers have bullied students over the course of three years, continuously raising the issue and intimidating dissenters until the motion was passed,” he said.

“BDS is an incessant and relentless attack against the national liberation movement of the Jewish People in its promotion of the belief that Jews are the only people in the world who do not deserve their own homeland,” said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“While it is to the credit of the undergraduate body that they have once again rejected this discriminatory campaign, the level of hate directed at Jewish students, including comments referencing ‘little Zionist Jewboys’ on social media following the original student motion in favour of BDS, demonstrates how entrenched anti-Semitism on our university campuses has become.”

President Evan Feldman and CEO Deborah Corber of Montreal’s Federation CJA congratulated the “around-the-clock” effort, “often in a hostile environment,” of pro-Israel students to mobilize their peers to vote down the motion.

They conceded that the battle is not over, however. “[T]he fight against BDS will require a sustained effort on the part of the community,” including “combat[ing] any instance of harassment and anti-Semitism” students may encounter in defending Israel.

In a Feb. 25 statement, the pro-BDS Network, which claims the endorsement of 19 student clubs and campus organizations, “acknowledge[d] the concerns that have been raised about anti-Semitism on campus, and recognize[d] that this is a reality for many Jewish students.”

The following day, it “strongly condemned the active campaigning efforts and tactics used by various students, professors and student groups” opposed to the motion, which it said violated SSMU rules against campaigning during the ratification process.

The violations it said it documented consist of “intimidation” and the use of “external organizations… to disseminate misinformation,” including professional public relations firms.

Specifically, the Network said “fraudulent” Reddit and Instagram accounts were created with its name and logo, and it dissociated itself from their content.

The original motion was passed by the SSMU general assembly the same day the House of Commons passed a motion formally condemning BDS. The parliamentary motion passed by a vote of 229-51. It calls on the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups, or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home, and abroad.”

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Canada: The University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Mar 22, 2016 | 
UOIT student association bans pro-Israel Hasbara group from social justice event

By Reka Szekely 
OSHAWA -- A pro-Israel group is accusing the UOIT student association of discrimination after it was denied the opportunity to participate in a campus social justice week event.

Robert Walker, director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, describes his group as a grassroots pro-Israel campus advocacy organization. In particular, the organization advocates against Israel Apartheid Week events and the boycott, divest and sanctions movement targeting Israel, called BDS.

Mr. Walker said his group wanted to participate in the social justice week event organized by the Student Association of Durham College and UOIT between March 7 and 11, and to respond to the Oshawa Against Israeli Apartheid Art Show.

The group was told it was rejected because the student association had passed a BDS motion and because of the group’s “ties to the state of Israel”, said Mr. Walker.

He called the move “outright, explicit, unapologetic discrimination” based on ethnic identity.

“We’re saying we were banned because we were connected to Israel so this is an issue of freedom of expression ... to the student association at UOIT social justice means banning any group they disagree with,” said Mr. Walker.

Student association president Jesse Cullen said Hasbara Fellowships was mistakenly told their rejection was based on BDS. The SA had passed a BDS motion at its annual general meeting but it has not been ratified by its board of directors.

Instead, Mr. Cullen said the group was rejected because of the SA’s goals to “work towards an environment free systematic societal oppression and decolonization”. He added that opposition to the state of Israel should not be conflated with anti-Semitism.

“This is not about the Jewish ethnicity being discriminated against, it’s about violating international law and colonizing Indigenous peoples,” said Mr. Cullen, adding that includes Palestinians.

Mr. Walker, on the other hand, said there are two sides to the story and said his group wanted to offer a rebuttal.

“This is a very open and very welcoming, very progressive message that Israel wants peace, and to have that message rejected because we’re tied to Israel is scandalous,” he said.

However, Mr. Cullen said the SA should not have to host organizations whose message is contrary to their mandate.

“We would not have the KKK out at the same event as Black Lives Matter,” he said.

Meanwhile, UOIT administrators issued a statement saying the university opposes the BDS movement and that the SA is a separate and independent organization.

“It was important for us to note that the student association had organized this event, it was not a university event and second of all the student association had made its decision on who would attend or who would not attend its social justice week,” said John MacMillan, director of communications at UOIT.

However, Mr. Walker called on the university administration to take stronger steps.

“Words simply are not enough, we’re calling on the university to condemn this specific instance of discrimination and to take steps to prevent it from ever happening again,” he said.

Reka Szekely is a reporter with Metroland Media Group’s Durham Region Division. She can be reached atrszekely@durhamregion.com . Follow her on Twitter and DurhamRegion.com

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UNIVERSITY’S STATEMENT ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE WEEK

March 14, 2016

News media have reported that an external organization was denied access to participate in the Social Justice Week activities organized by the Student Association (SA), which represents students at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College.

The university as an institution has not commented publicly until now out of respect for the student governance process.  

It’s important to note that the SA is a separate, independent and autonomous organization from the university, with its own governance. The university respects the SA’s independence and does not direct the programming or events that the association organizes for the student community.

The SA has noted that it organized its Social Justice Week on campus. The university as an institution was neither involved in the organization of events nor in selecting participants.  

Our university is a scholarly community whose academic mission is focused on building strength and capacity through research, innovation and partnerships. To this end, we support respectful dialogue, dissent and discourse. This includes supporting freedom of speech and encouraging an inclusive, diverse and safe environment on campus.

UOIT does not support a boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel.  

The university understands that many observers have expressed concerns that some organizations were not permitted to participate in the SA’s Social Justice Week. It is our hope that these expressions of concern will encourage the broadest range of participation and respectful dialogue at future events.

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‘Don’t demonize Israel’: Canada passes anti-boycott motion
Published time: 23 Feb

Canada has passed a motion to condemn “any and all attempts” to promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel both at home and abroad.

The motion passed on Monday by a 229-51 vote, CIJ News reports. The bill was introduced by members of the Conservative Party and won support from Liberal Party members. The motion calls on the government to condemn attempts by Canadian organizations, groups, and individuals to promote the BDS movement, claiming it “promotes the demonization and delegitimization” of Israel.

BDS is a global grassroots movement that is trying to pressure Israel to “comply with international law and Palestinian rights” through the boycott of products and companies that profit from violating Palestinian rights. It also includes Israeli cultural and academic institutions.

Inspired by the successful BDS movement that aided in ending South African apartheid, its supporters believe the movement is the only way to push for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Speaking after the vote, the National Council of Canada Arab Relations said, “At its core, the vote on the anti-BDS motion would go against the spirit of Freedom of Speech, a right enshrined in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Democratic governments do not ordinarily attempt to dictate the political views of their citizens. NCCAR Chair, Gabriel Fahel, reminds us that ‘freedom of speech and conscientious objections to buying products from countries that contravene international law are core values of a free and democratic society.’”

The CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Shimon Fogel, however insisted that the boycott movement “does not contribute to peace and is not pro-Palestinian.”

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is likely to continue former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s close ties with Israel. He is against the BDS movement, and tweeted his opinion in March of last year.“It is discrimination based on nationality, and it harms both Israelis and Palestinians alike by driving the two sides further apart. The BDS movement is a fringe movement and is outside genuine peace efforts,” Fogel said, as quoted by The Times of Israel.

Students at McGill University in Montreal passed a pro-BDS motion on Tuesday.

In 2014, Trudeau spoke out in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself during Operation Protective Edge, acknowledging the suffering of Israelis, but not that of the Palestinians, 2,200 of whom were killed during the 50 day conflict.

Israel has pushed back against BDS efforts, accusing its promoters of “anti-semitism.” AP recently revealed that the Israeli government had allotted $26 million for a covert cyberattack on the BDS movement, which would include “flooding the internet” with pro-Israel content and monitoring Muslim activists online.



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Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East


GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY, CONDEMN ME

The government has committed to condemning all of us, for "any and all attemts" to promote BDS. Let's challenge the government to do it, to each of us! Here's our petition:

To the head of Canada’s government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

WHEREAS the House of Commons passed a motion calling the government “to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement, both here at home and abroad,”

WHEREAS each one of us has sought to promote the BDS movement,

THEREFORE, we the undersigned petition the Canadian government to be individually condemned for, as appropriate, our thoughts, words, and actions, promoting BDS.


 


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