UBC students to vote on boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel

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      University of British Columbia students are about to weigh in on a question more than a few will regard as controversial.

      From March 23 to 27, the Alma Mater Society of UBC (AMS) will hold a referendum on a boycott and divestment motion targeting Israel.

      The ballot question reads in full: “Do you support your student union (AMS) in boycotting products and divesting from companies that support Israeli war crimes, illegal occupation and the oppression of Palestinians?”

      That language takes cues from an international campaign known as the BDS Movement, which stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

      The matter is up for a vote as a result of a petition that requested it be placed on an upcoming ballot. In accordance with AMS bylaws, a petition goes to a general vote if it receives the signatures of 1,000 active members. The petition on the question of divestment from Israel was presented to AMS on March 4 and was found to have met that threshold.

      On March 16, the AMS made public its official position on the matter, describing it as “any vote but yes”.

      “As outlined in the AMS Constitution, one of the primary objectives of the society is to promote unity and goodwill amongst our members,” an explanation reads. “Our view is that the passing of this referendum will go against this objective. As a result, AMS Council has endorsed an 'any vote but yes' vote. This decision was made on the basis that a yes vote would isolate certain members of the AMS and go against the ideals of inclusivity and the promotion of a safe and discrimination-free community for our members.”

      On March 15, students at McGill University voted on a similar question phrased “divestment from companies profiting from the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories”. That motion failed to pass by just 64 votes.

      Two days earlier, federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau weighed in on the McGill students’ referendum. “The BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses,” he wrote on Twitter. “As a @McGillU alum, I’m disappointed. #EnoughIsEnough.”

      Trudeau’s inclusion of the hashtag #EnoughIsEnough was a nod to an op-ed written by a number of McGill students that ran in the Montreal Gazette one day earlier.

      The vote at UBC will occur via booths set up around campus beginning Monday, March 23.




      Mar 20, 2015 at 12:33pm

      What utter trash. Israel has never been convicted of war crimes or "illegal occupation."

      If this passes, I will no longer be able to be a member of the AMS, as this shocks my conscience.

      trapped in BC

      Mar 20, 2015 at 1:10pm

      finally. We all need to ask these questions, and speak with our purchasing and investment power.
      Israel had done wrong. They need to be better to these people.
      The rest of the world needs to speak up, just like we would if it was any other Country.

      Voting Yes.

      Mar 20, 2015 at 2:23pm

      Wow. Surprised but impressed that this is an issue. The least it can do is raise awareness on the crimes that Israel is committing and make people question if they really want to help Israel in what they are doing by buying their products.

      Israel's occupation and treatment of the Palestinian people is WRONG and I will be voting yes.


      Mar 23, 2015 at 4:06pm

      What a joke. Anyone who accuses Israel of 'war-crimes' are: (a) anti-Semites or (b) uneducated on the matter. Simple as that. Keep trying to accuse Israel of 'war crimes'. Don't denounce Hamas whose charter calls for the very death of Jews and who deliberate attempt to kill civilians (including their own through human shields which is undeniable). Trying to denounce the only democracy in the Middle East - the only country where minorities such as women and gays have equal rights. Israel will always be held to a double standard because anti-Semitism has been around for centuries and sadly will not end any time soon. War crimes? Ha. Uneducated, anti-semitic, left-wing fools. Good luck with this joke a vote.

      S. Johnstone

      Mar 24, 2015 at 1:02pm

      I have to say that I'm very impressed with the AMS for thinking about their own members first and foremost. I've always disliked the way student groups love to create and nurture hatred towards other groups, especially in this instance where they are painting all Israeli's with a single brush and they also have zero chance of making any difference whatsoever if they vote yes. The self-righteousness and arrogance of youth sometimes needs to be tempered with logical and clear thinking.