Within the occupied territories of Palestine, Palestinians are continually displaced from their homes; their olive harvests uprooted; mothers, sisters, and daughters are abused; children are arrested without trial; living in disconnected ghettoes that bear a stark resemblance to South Africa’s bantustans.
Along with Palestinian civil society, prominent South African anti-apartheid activists Bishop Desmond Tutu and the late Nelson Mandela have called upon us to endorse the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Its aim is to pressure the state of Israel to put an end to its military occupation of the Palestinians and its discriminatory policies.
Noble students around the world stood by the side of Nelson Mandela and the ANC as they endorsed the BDS campaign against the apartheid regime of South Africa. We must now do the same, as we are called upon to endorse BDS.
The student unions’ support of Mandela was instrumental in the struggle for black liberation. Mandela recognized the essential link between Israel and South Africa, as the former did not abide by the UN arms embargo against the latter. Birds of a feather flock together: Israel and South Africa, as well as their oppressed peoples.
Let us stand together against the oppressive Israeli regime and pressure them into ending their military occupation of and discriminatory policies towards the Palestinian people.
Alon Coret & Sarah Silverberg
BDS (Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions) is a hateful and illegitimate campaign that seeks to hypocritically single out Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. In this light, BDS has no place on our campus. The MSU should not be taking political stances on complex and polarizing issues that stand to divide our student body. This movement runs counter not only to peace and progress, but also against the values of mainstream, Canadian students who value moderation, peace and tolerance.
While offensive and discriminatory in its rhetoric, the BDS campaign on Canadian campuses is failing, and has had no practical impact on university decisions. In fact, not a single North American university administration has endorsed BDS, and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) just this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its Israeli counterpart calling for increased collaboration.
BDS has been criticized across the political spectrum by Canada’s three largest political parties. For example, it was deemed “grossly unacceptable” by NDP leader Thomas Mulclair. It has also been rejected as a tactic by well-known critics of Israel, including Norman Finkelstein, who deemed it a “hypocritical, dishonest cult.”
Even the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to BDS: “We do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself… We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”
If BDS were selectively imposed on Israel, it would collectively punish every Israeli (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Druze, Atheist) regardless of their political views.
This is unacceptable. This includes Israeli goods, Israeli agriculture, and Israeli academics. It seeks to burn bridges, rather than build new ones; it seeks to censor universities, knowledge and free speech; it unfairly discriminates against an entire people based on their nationality and nothing else. For all intents and purposes, it undermines the rights and views of anyone who supports Israel and believes in their right of self-determination. It has also led to hate crimes on other campuses; surely we do not want such an atmosphere to be created here.
The BDS campaign delegitimizes, demonizes, and applies a double standard against the State of Israel. It is not about peace, since it blames Israel exclusively for the conflict in the Middle East; it emboldens the Palestinians in their non-compromising stance, further reducing the chances of a peace agreement.
BDS promotes a single story, which dangerously ignores the balance of voices needed when addressing such a complicated situation. If you are a critical thinker, an open-minded global citizen, a supporter of liberal values, and a student interested in dialogue and learning – say no to BDS.