March 10, 2014
Independent Jewish Voices – Canada (IJV) strongly supports the University of Windsor Student Alliance (UWSA) referendum on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and we call on university President Alan Wildeman to refrain from exerting any further pressure on the UWSA to withhold the ratification of the voting results.
The reaction of the university administration to the voting results of a student referendum is unfortunately predictable, as it has become commonplace for student-led initiatives for justice in Palestine to be quashed or silenced by various administrations in Canada. President Wildeman’s pressure on the UWSA to withhold the ratification of the voting results is reminiscent of Canadian university presidents banning the 2009 Israeli Apartheid Week poster on several Canadian campuses, and the University of Toronto’s recent banning of the group Students Against Israeli Apartheid for holding a protest the administration deemed to be ‘too loud.’ These examples only begin to scratch the surface of the level of intimidation, demonization, and discrimination directed at Palestine solidarity activists from university administrations across the country.
It is our understanding that this pattern of intimidation is reflective of a broader aversion amongst university administrations towards acknowledging Palestinian rights. Palestinians’ human rights are seen by many university administrations as dispensable, while Israel’s ongoing and systematic crimes against the Palestinians are continuously justified. Wildeman’s attempts to silence legitimate student actions in support of divesting from companies that are complicit in war crimes committed against Palestinians is the most recent display of intimidation to silence dissent on campus, and to discredit Palestinian non-violent efforts to gain visibility as human beings in the public arena.
IJV stands in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for self determination by endorsing the BDS movement. The organization applauds the UWSA for bravely providing a democratic platform through which University of Windsor undergraduate students could choose to voice their opinion on this important moral issue. In the interests of academic freedom and freedom of expression, IJV encourages President Wildeman to respect the democratic process in place and to abstain from meddling further in UWSA student affairs.
Listen to IJV Campaign Coordinator Tyler Levitan’s interview here