A student at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is petitioning the Supreme Court of Canada to stop the Alma Mater Society at UBC from putting forward a referendum question to the members of the student union which supports the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
In the petition submitted to the court on February 22, 2017, Logan Pretch claims that the question “Do you support your student union (AMS) in boycotting products and divesting from companies that support Israeli war crimes, illegal occupation and the oppression of Palestinians” is divisive, creates a toxic atmosphere for pro-Israel students on campus and leaves no room for open and respective debate on the Israel-Arab conflict.
Pretch asserts that the question, which contains “incendiary language”, is deliberately ambiguous and is intended to demonize Israel and marginalize students who oppose the BDS movement.
A virtually identical question, put before AMS in 2015, created such a toxic and divisive atmosphere on campus, that a Muslim student association had to cancel its collaboration with the Jewish Students Association (JSA) because “it could not be seen to be associated with the JSA at that time”. In addition, students opposing the BDS referendum, encountered hostility and reported acts of anti-Semitism on campus.
The BDS referendum is scheduled for March 27-31.
On March 30, 2015, a BDS resolution at UBC which unfairly and inaccurately targeted Israel, was defeated. According to the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto, 2,200 students voted against the resolution, making it the biggest number of votes ever cast against BDS at any Canadian university to date.
In two separate motions, the BDS movement was rejected by the Canadian Parliament and the Ontario Legislature on the basis that it promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel and encourages hatred, hostility, racism and intolerance.
According to NGO Monitor, a leading Israeli watchdog of non-governmental organizations, the ultimate goal of BDS is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state by means of political, economic, academic and cultural isolation. The international BDS movement is one of the main vehicles for spreading anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel globally, and is increasingly promoted on university campuses in Ontario and the rest of Canada.
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]