MONTREAL (JTA) – Students at McGill University in Montreal voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
The non-binding motion in the university’s student society carried Monday by a vote of 512-357. However, less than 3 per cent of McGill’s nearly 30,000 students actually cast ballots in the vote. It was the third time that the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) has voted on BDS in the past 18 months.
On the same day, the Parliament passed a motion formally condemning BDS.
Despite passage of the motion, which was put forward by the fledgling McGill BDS Action Network, the McGill administration is not bound to implement BDS policies. The motion can only be fully ratified through an online vote by McGill students in the coming week.
But the passage is being seen, at least symbolically, as a bitter blow for pro-Israel forces on the McGill campus, who view the BDS movement as either anti-Semitic or an effort to delegitimize Israel.
Student Aliza Saskin told the Montreal Gazette that the SSMU is “not representing all students on campus, even when their own by-laws call for no discrimination against anyone based on their cultural origins.”
Rabbi Reuben Poupko of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said in a statement reacting to the motion’s passage: “The campaign to boycott Israel is unproductive, divisive, and hateful. Far from advancing peace of the Palestinian cause, it undermines coexistence by demonizing one of the two parties in a complex conflict.”
Over the past few years, several Canadian universities have passed pro-BDS motions.
The anti-BDS motion in Parliament 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.”