FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2017
Independent Jewish Voices Canada applauds BC Supreme Court Ruling on UBC’s BDS Referendum
Vancouver, BC — On Thursday, March 30, a British Columbia Supreme Court judge ruled in favour of the right of students at the University of British Columbia (UBC) to vote on a referendum regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which targets Israel’s regime. The referendum question asks students if they support their student union adopting the tactics of boycotting and divesting from companies complicit in the oppression of Palestinians. Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) welcomes this decision.
The referendum was initially scheduled to be held in March 2017, but shortly before the scheduled vote, a UBC student who is opposed to BDS took the unprecedented step of filing a petition in which he asked the Court to order the Alma Mater Society of UBC (AMS) not to hold the BDS referendum. Effectively, the petitioner sought to deprive UBC students of the right to vote. In support of his request for a restraining order, the student argued, among other things, that by holding a BDS referendum, the AMS was violating one of its purposes, which was to promote goodwill and unity among its members.
The Court did not accept the petitioner’s arguments and dismissed the petition. While the Court acknowledged that BDS is a controversial topic, it determined that the courts should not intervene in student political debate at the university unless there is a breach of the student bylaws, and that there was no such breach in this case. The Court noted that students at UBC have been taking positions on political topics going all the way back to 1967 and the Vietnam War referendum.
“Despite the hugely disproportionate resources of pro-Israel forces on campus — who defame and even litigate against Palestinian human rights activists — open and free debate and discussion have come out victorious,” says IJV spokesperson Rabbi David Mivasair. “We encourage all students at UBC to engage in campus discussions on this issue. Universities are meant to be spaces that encourage critical thought and inquiry, notwithstanding the efforts of Israel’s apologists who aim to shut down any discussion regarding Palestinians’ rights,” concludes Rabbi Mivasair.
For more information contact:
Tyler Levitan, Campaigns Coordinator
Independent Jewish Voices Canada
Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) is a national human rights organization whose mandate is to promote a just resolution to the conflict in Israel and Palestine through the application of international law and respect for the human rights of all parties. There are currently ten chapters of IJV in cities across the country, in addition to a growing number of student chapters on major university campuses. IJV supports the right of Canadians to criticize and challenge the current laws and policies of the State of Israel, including through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.