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March 31, 2013 12:51 pm

Canada’s Largest Student Group Joins BDS Movement as Vote’s Validity Questioned

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The York University coat of arms. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Canada’s largest student union, the York Federation of Students (YFS) University, passed a resolution last week to join the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the Canadian Jewish News reported.

The student union, which represents more than 52,000 undergraduates at Toronto’s York University, overwhelmingly passed the motion after a hearing with Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA).

The resolution calls on York University to “abide by the BDS call; specifically urging the university to withdraw its investments from Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Amphenol and other companies that are selling weapons and military equipment to Israel,” SAIA said.

YFS is the third student union at York to pass a BDS resolution. Last fall, the Graduate Student Union and York’s Graduate Students Association both voted in favor of the resolution. Jewish leaders on campus condemned the vote in a joint statement, saying it is “fundamentally racist, and a possible violation of the university’s anti-discrimination codes.”

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Pro-Israel supporters also questioned the vote’s validity, claiming that they were surprised that YFS allowed the vote to take place without checking the authenticity of the 5,000 signatures.

“Those signatures have not been verified for authenticity or duplication,” Howard English, senior vice-president of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, told the Canadian Jewish News. “We don’t really know whether these are 5,000 genuine students.”

“While we may have lost the vote, we do feel like we do have the support of the majority of students on campus who don’t want to see their student government, to which they owe money, radicalized or politicized,” Chaim Lax, president of York’s Hasbara, a pro-Israel group, told theCanadian Jewish News.

The York University BDS campaign is the latest effort by anti-Israel activists in a global campaign to challenge Israel on college campuses. Similar divestment votes have taken place at a number of campuses in the University of California system. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, Oxford University students recently overwhelmingly rejected a motion to divest from Israel.

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