Students at McGill University voted 59.6% in favor of a resolution supporting the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The motion passed on Monday by a secret ballot vote of 512-357 with 14 abstentions. However, only about 3% of the Montreal university’s student body of 30,000 participated in the vote.
McGill BDS Action Network presented the motion. It requires Mcgill University to divest from companies “profiting from violations of Palestinian human rights” and to create an “investment screen” to ensure the divestment from these companies in the future as well. Companies directly mentioned in the motion were Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, L-3 Communications, US surveillance and reconnaissance company, and RE/MAX. The motion also demanded for the return of Palestinians to Israel and for equality for Arab Israelis.
The vote followed a debate with over 40 speakers lasting for nearly two hours.
With one of the largest Jewish communities of all Canadian Universities, many McGill students spoke out, arguing that the motion was anti-semitic, created division amongst students, and created fear for Jewish and Israeli students.
Pro-Israel forces on campus, who see the BDS movement as an attempt to delegitimize Israel, slammed the vote.
The measure is “not representing all students on campus,” said McGill student Aliza Saskin.
“The campaign to boycott Israel is unproductive, divisive, and hateful. Far from advancing peace of the Palestinian cause, it undermines coexistence by demonizing one of the two parties in a complex conflict,” said Rabbi Reuben Poupko from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
The controversial motion passed on the same day as Canada’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to condemn the BDS movement.
Even with the motion’s passage on campus, the University has no obligations to change their policy based on the vote. The vote will still need ratification in an online referendum which is expected to take place later this week.