(JTA) – The Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) unanimously passed a resolution to boycott Israel.
One of the group’s executive members, Anna Goldfinch, said the resolution “endorses a number of solidarity tactics that have been called for by Palestinian civil society,” according to Canadian Press. She said it represents an endorsement of the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, known as BDS.
The organization represents 300,000 students. The resolution was put forward by the Students’ Union at Ryerson University. Rajean Hoilett, the union’s president, said Ontario schools should not “remain complicit” with what he called “Israeli war crimes,” according to the Canadian Press.
Hoilett said the union has planned a series of panel discussions on the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, and will not allow space for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.
In response, Hillel Ontario and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) issued a statement condemning the decision.
“The CFS has once again demonstrated that it is entirely out of touch with its students,” said Donald Sylvan, executive director of Hillel Ontario. “According to reports, this motion was not on the meeting agenda, was brought forward at the last minute, and – days later – has still not been published by the CFS for the review of its members. The failure to abide by basic democratic principles and the bizarre focus on issues that are entirely irrelevant to the vast majority of students perhaps explain why the CFS is a rapidly shrinking organization. This motion is likely to add to the growing number of universities that have chosen to sever their ties with the CFS.”
“While the CFS can pass a meaningless resolution behind closed doors, boycott calls continue to be rejected by university administrations,” said Judy Zelikovitz, vice-president of University and Local Partner Services at CIJA. “Not a single university in North America has endorsed a boycott of Israel. Across Canada, universities have been strengthening, not reducing, ties with Israeli schools. The best example of this is the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada’s partnership agreement with the Israeli Association of University Heads, signed during a 2013 trip to Israel of Canadian university presidents co-hosted by CIJA.”
(With files from Ottawa Jewish Bulletin)