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June 27, 2022
MONTREAL – B’nai Brith Canada is backing a McGill student’s lawsuit against the university for failing to withhold student fees after repeated anti-Israel referendums, in violation of the university’s own policies.
The lawsuit names McGill University, the Student Society at McGill University (SSMU) and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), which promoted the referendum.
Members of SSMU endorsed a document accusing Israel of engaging in “settler-colonial apartheid against Palestinians,” and committing SSMU to boycotting all entities “complicit” in this activity, among other measures. The document’s language was so broad that it would have compelled SSMU to boycott virtually all Jewish clubs and associations on campus.
B’nai Brith has previously appealed to the university to withhold funding for the students’ society, and despite having received assurances that McGill would do so, it continues to fund the SSMU. To make matters worse, McGill is in violation of its own Memorandum of Understanding, promising to cease funding SSMU in the event it participated in boycotting Israel or affiliated groups.
“We’re standing up for this Jewish student, and through him, all Jewish students on campus who feel unsafe and unwelcome as a result of continued anti-Israel referendums by their student society,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “It’s inexplicable that McGill would allow one anti-Israel referendum after another and continue to fund activities which are in violation of its own policies. In doing so, it is participating in creating an antisemitic environment.”
The referendum motion was promoted by the SPHR – an anti-Israel campus group that has gained significant influence in the SSMU. Rock star Roger Waters recently spoke at a virtual SPHR McGill forum, where his usual anti-Israel venom found a welcome audience.
“Let this be an example to all universities across Canada who are allowing this type of activity on campus. B’nai Brith will not stand for this any longer,” said Sam Goldstein, B’nai Brith Canada’s Director of Legal Affairs. “These types of referendums are not restricted to McGill, this is a problem in universities across Canada, and we hope other universities are paying attention.”
The plaintiff – a Jewish 3rd year student at McGill – is being supported exclusively by the Legal Defence Program at B’nai Brith Canada. The oldest Jewish organization in Canada, B’nai Brith is widely recognized as a leader in using the law to defend Jewish civil rights.
McGill has seen a number of antisemitic incidents on campus, including a former member of the student union government exhorting fellow students to “punch a Zionist today.”