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After a week of campaigning and a controversial protest in the MUSC atrium, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Campaign successfully passed at this week’s General Assembly. The final vote count was 622-28, with 77 abstentions, meaning the assembly met quorum and the motion is binding.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions motion requires that the MSU boycott and divest from any corporation that profits from the occupation of Palestinian territory, in favour of more ethical purchasing policies. The BDS movement is supported by over twenty different Hamilton and McMaster organizations. With the passing of the motion, Mac joins nine other graduate and undergraduate student associations in Canada to adopt BDS, including those of York and Windsor.

Notable companies that are set for boycott under this motion include HP information technologies, which provides software for Israeli military checkpoints, and whose computers and printers are commonly used in the university.

“This one is not only for the Palestinian people, but for each and every oppression that comes after…from Ferguson to Afghanistan, oppression is a crime,” Salah Khalaf told a cheering crowd immediately following the assembly. BDS campaigners and supporters often drew comparisons to the General Assembly where a similar BDS motion was debated and ultimately passed in the case of Apartheid-era South Africa.

In addition, the assembly passed a motion for the MSU to work with Bridges Café, which is already operated by MSU Diversity Services, in order to include more Kosher, Halal and other religiously certified food options for religious students that observe various dietary laws.

The General Assembly progressed without significant uproar or conflict between BDS supporters and opponents, but as anticipated it faced a number of challenges.

Jacob Klugsberg presented a motion of amendment almost immediately following the presentation of the BDS motion, in order to exclude any mention of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, in favour of a more broadly sweeping commitment to review McMaster’s ethical purchasing policies.

“I do not see a motion that calls for the MSU to address local and international human rights in a comprehensive and holistic manner. Rather, I see a motion filled with legal, moral, and historical inaccuracies that chooses to target one very specific, one very complex conflict,” he said. The amendment ultimately failed to pass after BDS campaign teams strongly criticized it to be what they viewed to be a tactical and political deflection.

After the rejection of this amendment, the discussion between supporters and opponents concluded. As the original motion was presented again, and the question was raised in order to immediately vote on the motion, those against it began to leave the assembly in an attempt to break quorum, representing three percent of the undergraduate population, or 632 students.

BDS opponents also noted a lack of debate during the assembly.

Incoming Israel on Campus President Mindy Chapman denounced the General Assembly vote, stating that the event was not sufficiently advertised, nor did it facilitate any kind of democratic discussion.

“The anti-Israel BDS activists demonstrated their hypocrisy and discriminatory purpose by rejecting an amendment to recognize the MSU’s role of social responsibility and renew and review its policies and procedures to address all human rights issues in a non-discriminatory and holistic manner,” she said. “The BDS activists terminated any and all chance of dialogue, discussion or debate by ‘calling the question’ and going immediately to a vote on the motion, silencing all other student opinions with over an hour still remaining in the meeting.”

Following the assembly, BDS supporters reunited in the MUSC atrium, where they met for their daily prayers, and to celebrate their success. BDS campaign organizer, Nagham Azzam, reiterated the excitement of the supporters.

“The reason we even came out to BDS, and to the vote and the General Assembly, is because at the end of the day injustice against one is injustice against all and our prophet, peace be upon him, tells us that we need to stand against injustice because injustice will be the darkness on the day of judgement.”

Khalaf delivered a final speech to supporters, thanking them, while also reminding them to not act in a malicious or discriminatory manner towards BDS opponent groups on campus. Tensions between Israeli and Palestinian support groups on campus arose over the course of last week, especially when the current Israel on Campus president was caught tearing down MSU approved BDS posters on camera.

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