For the second time since 2015, by a narrow margin of 1,513 to 1,396, on April 7, 2017 the University of British Columbia (UBC) students voted down an Alma Mater Society’s anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) motion which called for “boycotting products and divesting from companies that support Israeli war crimes, illegal occupation and the oppression of Palestinians”.
In a statement, Jason Murray, Pacific Region Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said that “In singling out and demonizing Israelis, BDS undermines dialogue, economic cooperation, and ultimately peace between people on both sides of this painful conflict. We note that no university in North America has adopted BDS measures, and we have every confidence that UBC will continue building partnerships with Israelis.”
Robert Walker, National Director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, said: “This vote is not a surprise. BDS activists are waging a losing war; students, like all Canadians, are, by and large, simply not buying into this malicious misinformation.”
UBC is the latest Canadian university to reject BDS. In January of this year, in a unanimous 5 to 0 decision, the appeals board for affiliate colleges at Western University in London, Ontario ruled against a referendum on BDS motion put forward by the King’s University College student council. Both McGill and University of Toronto rejected three attempts by BDS activists to turn their campuses into anti-Israel battlegrounds.
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.
The BDS strategy was crystallized at the infamous 2001 UN Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, and was formally endorsed by dozens of radical anti-Israel groups in 2005. In Canada, BDS is endorsed by the one-seat Green Party, the only Canadian party to adopt a boycott of Israel as its official political platform.
In 2016, both the Ontario legislature and the Canadian Parliament passed motions rejecting the BDS movement, which Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid characterized as a “prelude to genocide”. During the BDS debate at the Ontario legislature on December 1, 2016, 19 year old Sam Oosterhoff , the youngest elected Conservative MPP told the House that BDS is “vindictive and short-sighted and is based on a dislike of a minority based on its nationality. It is steeped in anti-Semitism. It is not pro-Palestinian. It is anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic. It promotes hate and poisons whatever good will exists between Israel and Palestinians”.
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]