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Canadian Students to Vote on BDS Motion Proposed by Group That Sold Hamas Scarves at Anti-Israel Event

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Keffiyehs sold and worn at the SPHR event. Photo: Facebook.

Students at a Canada university are in the midst of voting on a boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution initiated by a group that sold Hamas scarves at an anti-Israel event last month, a Jewish human rights advocate told The Algemeiner this week.

Aidan Fishman, campus coordinator for B’nai Brith Canada, said the University of British Columbia (UBC) chapter of pro-BDS Students for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) held an event on March 17 — titled “A Night with Palestine” — at which members of the group hawked and wore keffiyehs bearing the Arabic slogan, “Jerusalem is ours. We are coming,” and an image of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The scarves were nearly identical to one famously worn by former President Barack Obama’s half-brother, Malik, in a 2010 photo with Hamas officials (Obama’s scarf also featured the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”)

Fishman said the keffiyehs were sold to raise money for Youth for Palestine Canada (YFP), a group whose Facebook page features an image of children posing with Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas who was killed in a 2004 Israeli airstrike. The picture includes the caption, “You have made your sons steadfast, oh Yassin!”

YAF thanked SPHR on social media for including them in the on-campus event and has posted pictures advertising merchandise similar to that seen at UBC.

SPHR accused B’nai Birth of “circulating false and damaging information,” after the organization initially publicized the sale of the keffiyehs.

SPHR rejected the charge that the keffiyehs were related in any way to Hamas, saying that they are “a widely-adopted symbol of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation.” The group also accused B’nai Brith of providing a “purposely incendiary” translation of the slogan, claiming it actually means, “We shall return,” a reference they described as echoing the hopes of Palestinian refugees.

Fishman said, “Apparently, SPHR does not understand Arabic, or is deliberately lying,” and “challenge[d] anyone who doubts” B’nai Brith’s translation “to consult an Arabic speaker, or simply go to Google Translate, copy and paste the Arabic phrase ( نحن قادمون ), and see what happens.”

He recognized that the “keffiyeh is a general Palestinian cultural symbol,” but maintained that the scarves in question “carried Hamas-affiliated slogans, which clearly links them” to the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip.

Fishman also called on SPHR to “unequivocally condemn Hamas.”

SPHR did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

UBC students have until Friday to vote online for or against the BDS resolution put forth by SPHR.

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