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BDS Referendum Quashed at Western University Affiliate

By Aidan Fishman
Campus Advocacy Coordinator
B’nai Brith Canada

A planned referendum on whether or not to endorse the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel at King’s University College, a Catholic affiliate of Western University, has been cancelled (page does not exist) after Jewish students successfully argued that it violated the mandate of the college’s student council (KUCSC).

Matt Helfand, a law student at Western University, convinced the Affiliate Appeals Board’s five members to unanimously rule against the referendum. In his presentation to the board, he noted that BDS referenda on other campuses have been linked to antisemitic hate crimes.

“I am pleased with the outcome,” Helfand told B’nai Brith Canada. “For this appeal to pass we needed a unanimous decision from the board, which is obviously a high threshold, and exactly what we received. It certainly sends a strong message…”

“This is an important victory, which ensures that the large Jewish community at Western will not be subjected to a needless and potentially hate-filled referendum,” said Amanda Hohmann, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “A national pattern is clearly emerging. Whenever BDS is evaluated by objective appellate bodies on campus, its bigoted, discriminatory nature is unanimously confirmed.”

In May of 2016, the Judicial Board of the Students’ Society of McGill University similarly ruled that BDS violated the student union’s constitution and therefore could not be endorsed by that body.