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Surprise BDS Vote Fails at University of Ottawa

Nov. 5, 2017

By Aidan Fishman
Interim National Director of the League for Human Rights
B’nai Brith Canada

OTTAWA – B’nai Brith Canada is congratulating Jewish and pro-Israel students at the University of Ottawa for defeating an anti-Israel motion on very short notice.

On Sunday, the SFUO’s Board of Administration considered but ultimately rejected a motion to endorse the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Instead, it passed an amended motion committing the SFUO “to do all in its power to peacefully resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Students were only notified about the impending vote on Friday, which made it harder for Jewish groups to take effective action due to the Sabbath.

However, B’nai Brith acted quickly through its legal counsel, sending SFUO directors a letter on Friday afternoon explaining that any vote to endorse BDS could trigger serious legal consequences. SFUO directors seemed to heed the warning, as their first move at the meeting was to remove any reference whatsoever to BDS.

The SFUO’s proposed BDS vote would have violated the notice requirements guaranteed by its own constitution (page doesn’t exist),  as well as the student union’s policy on discrimination, which prohibits the SFUO from discriminating on the basis of nationality or religion. It also came on the heels of a failed attempt by activists within the SFUO to revoke the club status of Hillel Ottawa in previous weeks.

“The proposed BDS vote was not only immoral, but also illegal,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “Student unions cannot and will not be allowed to discriminate against Israeli and Jewish students, especially in clear violation of their own governing documents.

“We will continue to intervene swiftly and decisively to ensure that Canadian university campuses remain safe for Jewish students.”

Amazingly, Sunday’s vote marked the ninth defeat in a row for BDS on Canadian campuses. Over the past two years, BDS votes have failed at the University of Toronto (twice), the University of WaterlooMcGill University, the University of British Columbia (page doesn’t exist), Simon Fraser University, the University of Winnipeg – and now the University of Ottawa as well.