April 1, 2013
Canada’s largest student association endorses Israel boycott
The largest student association in Canada passed a resolution endorsing the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel.
With the passage late last week of the resolution, York University's student association joins two others in Canada -- the University of Toronto and Montreal's Concordia University graduate student associations -- in endorsing the BDS campaign, according to the York University Excalibur newspaper.
The campaign calls for universities to divest from holdings in companies that do business with Israel and to cut ties with Israeli academics.
The York Federation of Students voted 18-2 in favor of the resolution, but it has no actual bearing on the university's investment portfolio.
"York University uses best practices in developing its policy on investments, and this is built on advice from major investment consulting firms," York spokeswoman Janice Walls told the Canadian Jewish News.
Jewish student groups at York complained that they were not given advance notice of the vote and had little time to prepare an argument against the resolution. The Students Against Israeli Apartheid group at York advocated for the measure.
In comments to the Excalibur, Safiyah Husein, a vice president of the York Federation of Students, portrayed the resolution as uncontroversial.
"Indeed, not everyone supports reduced tuition fees, equity campaigns or sustainability work, but we know the majority of our members believe this work is vital and important," Husein said.
Chaim Lax, president of Hasbara@York, said his group was disappointed and called the resolution “fundamentally racist and a possible violation of [York’s] anti-discrimination codes.”
The student federation represents more than 52,000 undergraduate students at York, Canada's third-largest university.