McGill University Ratifies Ruling Rejecting BDS for Promoting Discrimination Based on Nationality
The undergraduate student government at McGill University in Montreal, Canada on Sunday ratified a ruling against the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement for violating its policy against discrimination based on national origin.
The Judicial Board of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) initially issued the ruling on June 2016, after anti-Israel activists failed to pass a motion in support of BDS during an online referendum. That vote was the third unsuccessful effort organized by anti-Israel activists at McGill in 18 months.
In its ruling, the board explained that “picking a side” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by supporting BDS will inhibit “SSMU’s ability to create an open, inviting atmosphere for students of Israeli origins, and [undermine] SSMU’s ability to serve them without bias.”
The board further noted that such a decision would conflict with the SSMU’s mandate to represent all students equally, including those who hold Israeli citizenship. It also emphasized that endorsing BDS would violate the body’s own Equity Policy, which precludes discrimination based on national origin.
“When all of these considerations are read together, the inescapable conclusion is that motions similar to the BDS Motion, which target one specific nation, breach values inherent in our Constitution and the Equity Policy,” the board determined.
Aidan Fishman — interim national director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada — told The Algemeiner on Monday that ratification of the ruling by SSMU’s Board of Directors “took over a year to occur because of cynical attempts by anti-Israel forces within SSMU to overrule the decision of their own judicial organ.”
“One of the ringleaders of this attempt was Igor Sadikov, who infamously told his Twitter followers to ‘Punch a zionist today’ in February of 2017,” he added. “After B’nai Brith Canada drew attention to Sadikov’s reprehensible remarks, he was forced to resign from his student government positions, substantially weakening the pro-BDS camp at McGill.”
“The Sadikov scandal also contributed to the victory of more reasonable forces in the SSMU elections in March of 2017, which in turn finally facilitated the ratification of the anti-BDS ruling yesterday,” Fishman observed. “Our hope is that this ratification inspires similar developments at other Canadian student unions, which generally have similar anti-discrimination provisions in their bylaws.”
Rabbi Reuben Poupko — co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs-Québec — commended the SSMU Board of Directors and Judicial Board “for recognizing that the BDS movement creates a discriminatory environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus that ultimately undermines academic freedom and dialogue for all.”