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BDS on Canadian Campuses Dealt Serious Blow, Say Jewish, Pro-Israel Advocacy Groups in Wake of University System Adoption of New Non-Discrimination Policy

avatar by Lea Speyer

York University campus, a member of the Universities Canada system. Photo; Andrei Sedoff/ Wikimedia Commons.

York University campus, a member of the Universities Canada system. Photo; Andrei Sedoff/ Wikimedia Commons.

A serious blow was dealt to the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement this week, prominent members of Major Canadian Jewish and Israel advocacy groups told The Algemeiner on Thursday, following the university system’s adoption of a new non-discrimination policy.

Commenting on the Wednesday vote by Universities Canada — representing 97 institutions of higher education across the country — determining that discrimination based on “place of origin,” among other factors, is now prohibited, Robert Walker, national director for Hasbara Fellowships Canada, said that anti-Israel groups will now “find themselves in a lonely position”

“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement thrives on discrimination against Israelis and Jews,” Walker told The Algemeiner. “The onus is now on university leadership to implement these policies, to make sure that they are upheld and that the universities hold the student governments to this code of conduct.”

Amanda Hohmann, national director of B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights, told The Algemeiner, It is good to see that Universities Canada has brought their policies in line with those outlined by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which already protects against discrimination based on nationality or place of origin. Parliament itself condemned BDS last year, so any backlash against an anti-discrimination policy from the pro-BDS camp would further undermine their already dubious claim to support human rights.” 

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Judy Zelikovitz, vice president of University and Local Partner Services at the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), called the adoption of the new policy a “ground-breaking decision…[that] represents a crucial defeat for BDS activists, who openly call for discrimination against Israelis based on their country of origin.”

She said in a statement: “Canada’s top academics are committed to building global partnerships, including with Israel’s world-class universities and scholars. This vote by Canada’s universities entrenches a zero-tolerance approach to bigotry based on nationality, and CIJA will be working hard to ensure that this policy is used to block BDS efforts.” 

The Universities Canada decision is the latest move in the attempt by an increasing number of Canadian schools to combat Jew-hatred and expressions of antisemitic anti-Zionism among students, faculty and administration.

Earlier this month, as The Algemeiner reported, the University of Lethbridge suspended without pay a tenured professor who used his classroom to promote antisemitic and anti-Zionist conspiracy theories. In September, major Canadian Jewish groups hailed York University for firing a faculty member who accused Jews of being “followers of the Evil One” and called 9/11 a “Zionist attack on New York City.”

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