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January 25, 2018 11:02 am

McGill Student Who Said He Was Targeted Over Jewish Identity Ratified to Undergraduate Board of Directors

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McGill University campus. Photo: Paul Lowry/Wikimedia Commons.

Students at McGill University in Montreal, Canada voted last week to ratify their student government’s board of directors — including a peer who claimed to have been targeted for removal over his Jewish identity and pro-Israel views.

The online referendum comes in the wake of a recent ruling by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Judicial Board, which found that a General Assembly (GA) decision in October to split the vote on the directors — which led to the failed ratification of three — was unconstitutional.

One of these directors, Noah Lew, wrote shortly after the GA meeting that he was “blocked from participating in student government because of my Jewish identity and my affiliations with Jewish organizations.” He added that Alexander Scheffel and Josephine Wright O’Manique — two non-Jewish directors who also failed to be ratified by the SSMU in October — were voted down “because they opposed the [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement and because they had attempted to support McGill’s Jewish students.”

Ahead of the vote, the pro-BDS group Democratize SSMU reportedly accused Lew — who is involved with the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee — and the other directors of having a “conflict of interest.” Democratize SSMU later apologized “for the way in which our original version of this section was insensitive to anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish people as corrupt and politically powerful.”

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McGill launched an investigation into the controversy in November, following allegations “that the votes against one or more of those directors were motivated by anti-Semitism.” The probe’s findings are expected to be made public early this year.

In an online statement on Saturday, Lew thanked McGill students “for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to continue my tenure as a member of the Board of Directors.”

The vote was also applauded by Avi Benlolo, head of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) advocacy group.

“This takes us one step forward in dealing with the antisemitism that distorted the agenda of the SSMU and saw those with a Jewish identity or who affiliated with Jewish organizations being prevented from participating in student affairs,” Benlolo said. “We now look forward to the outcome of the inquiries set up by the president of McGill University which are still ongoing.”

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