CFS endorses boycott against Israel

Canada’s largest student organization endorses Palestinian rights movement 

The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) has passed a resolution in support of the international boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, during its 37th general meeting on Nov. 19.

Rawan Habib, president of York Federation of Students, made the motion calling on the national student organization to endorse the campaign.

The motion stated, “in 1946, the state of Israel was established through the expulsion of the majority of the Palestinian population, turning them into refugees, whom decades later, still cannot exercise their fundamental rights.”

The motion resolved that the “ongoing occupation of Palestine be condemned” that the CFS endorse the BDS campaign and support Palestine solidarity organizing, and support student unions in weapons-divestment campaigns at their institutions.

Habib did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

According to Arnel Fleurant, the director of education at the Student Association of George Brown College (SA), there were some aspects of the motion that were passed at the recent national meeting while others were tabled for further deliberation.

“The Federation’s decision to support the BDS movement comes after decades of Israeli violations of international human rights law and daily violence again the Palestinian people,” said a statement by the CFS on Nov. 29.

“Palestinian children are routinely denied access to a quality education as a result of this violence. Israel’s blatant violations of basic human rights have long been condemned by international human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights.”

Shortly after the passing of this resolution, Hillel chapters across Canada released a joint statement, speaking out against the CFS’s move to endorse the BDS campaign.

“This latest call for a boycott of Israel is anti-academic, fuelled by hatred, and is counterproductive to peace,” the organization said.

“The motion is rife with factual inaccuracies and historical distortions,” stated the Hillel. “In its obsessive campaign against exclusively one country and one community, the CFS has further marginalized the thousands of Jewish students whom it is tasked with representing.”

In their Nov. 29 statement the CFS took issue with the inference that support of the BDS campaign is anti-Jewish.

“This stance against Israeli state actions should not be conflated with any sort of anti-Semitism. The Federation will continue to oppose anti-Semitism on our campuses and in our communities and prioritize the voices of Jewish groups like Independent Jewish Voices on the issues that affect them.”

The SA’s role in the BDS campaign has not yet been determined and Fleurant indicated that the SA’s board has to discuss their approach.

“I will say we are part of the CFS organization and as a part, we do support all international students and equity for all,” said Fleurant, who is also the CFS college and institute students’ representative. “So I don’t believe it’s a motion that we would be against.”

The SA was represented by the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) at the recent CFS general meeting.

Requests for comment from CESAR were not returned by press time.

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CFS endorses boycott against Israel