(March 7, 2019 / JNS) Jewish students at the University of Toronto have filed appeals against a BDS committee that was ratified in a vote on Feb. 26 by the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) and condemned by pro-Israel groups.
The committee seeks “the continuity of the divest campaign at UofT,” according to the campaign’s organizers. “It is the culmination of many years’ activism and efforts to build the BDS movement on our campus.”
The Hillel on campus slammed the move, saying that it “will only let more student dollars to be wasted on a divisive and discriminatory movement that does nothing to further peace in the Middle East.”
“We will continue to stand firmly against BDS and other efforts on campus that create hostile environments for Jewish students,” they added. “Much of that hostility was felt at last night’s meeting.”
“StandWithUs finds it appalling that UT Grad Students Union has chosen to single out Israel for condemnation,” the group’s Canada executive director Meryle Kates told JNS. “Once again, this union has demonstrated anti-Semitism by supporting the divisive BDS movement that seeks the destruction of the State of Israel.”
“Thanks to the students who stood up against this discriminatory resolution,” she continued. “It is deeply disturbing that UT [graduate] students will now promote a committee of hate against Israel.”
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center also launched a petition urging the school’s administration to speak out against BDS, which it said has gained more than 800 signatures so far, reported The Algemeiner.
“I think it is well-established globally, including through the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and our own prime minister, that BDS is an anti-Semitic movement, which promotes racism, intolerance and hatred against the Jewish people,” said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“The people who promote this hateful campaign bully the one and only Jewish nation on earth, while leaving out any criticism of the most oppressive nations on the planet—most of which are undemocratic and practice gender apartheid, restrict freedoms and commit heinous acts of violence, including Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia,” he continued. “It’s shameful that Canadian university students are using Western platforms to discriminate against the Jewish people and the only democratic state in the Middle East: Israel.”
“The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union’s shameful vote to ratify its BDS committee as a permanent body is yet another symptom of the irrational anti-Zionist activism popular on many North American college campuses,” Zac Schildcrout, campus coordinator at CAMERA on Campus who oversees Canada, told JNS.
“Any objective analysis would demonstrate that the nation-state of the Jewish people has acted far more humanely and honorably than many other countries not targeted with the same animus,” he continued. “We hope that the U of T administration will, as it has in the past, reject discriminatory efforts to harm the world’s only Jewish state.”
This development came the day after academic Norman Finkelstein, known for his anti-Semitic and anti-Israel beliefs, gave a lecture about Gaza, organized by the Association of Palestinian Students, though not supported or endorsed by the university.