McGill student group votes to boycott Israel
Published Monday, February 22, 2016 10:50PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 23, 2016 7:49AM EST
The Student Society of McGill University has voted to boycott Israel.
The idea came up for a vote twice before in the last 18 months at McGill University, and was put forward again Monday night by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
This time, it succeeded.
“What we basically did is write a motion and brought it to the general assembly at our student union today. The motion is on boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel,” said Laura Khoury of the McGill BDS Action Network.
Close to 900 undergraduate students filled nearly four overflow rooms for the hour-long debate.
Students voted 512 to 357 in favour of adopting the motion. While it may have been a small portion of the student population of 30,000, they say vote sends a message.
“And that speaks really loud as a student body that voted for BDS and the government is trying to silence our voices and silence our efforts to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and answer their call,” said Khoury.
The vote comes on the same day as similar vote in Ottawa – with the opposite outcome.
The Conservatives introduced a motion to condemn all Canadian organizations groups and individuals that promote the BDS movement, because they claim it promotes the demonization and de-legitimization of the State of Israel.
The motion passed by a vote of 229 to 51, receiving support from both the Liberals and Conservatives.
Members of the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May voted against the motion.
B'nai Brith's Quebec Executive Director Harvey Levine condemned the vote at McGill.
“The fact that the students’ groups, like the BDS and pro-Palestinian groups use the university campuses as the defacto to de-legitimize one particular state and one group of people to us is very, very unacceptable,” said Levine.
In an email to CTV, Dean of Students Andre Costopoulos stated that the Student Society of McGill is an independent organization whose motions and votes do not affect university policy.