FSWC Calls on McGill Administration to Step in After Student Union Holds Illegitimate Anti-Israel Referendum

March 23, 2022

Media Release

Toronto (March 23, 2022) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) stands with Canadian Jewish student groups in condemning an illegitimate anti-Israel referendum held by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) and is calling on the university administration to step in.

Earlier this week, the SSMU held a vote to adopt a “Palestine Solidarity Policy” that accuses Israel of “settler-colonial apartheid,” among other false accusations, and states the SSMU shall completely boycott and divest from all corporations and institutions that are “complicit in settler-colonial apartheid against Palestinians.”

By holding this referendum, the SSMU overstepped boundaries set by its Judicial Board, which in 2016 ruled that motions that “compel SSMU to adopt a platform against specific nations are unconstitutional and further breach the Equity Policy.” The Judicial Board reaffirmed its 2016 position by issuing an interim order that the referendum question should be removed from the ballot, but the SSMU ignored the request.

In a letter to McGill University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Suzanne Fortier, FSWC Director of Policy Jaime Kirzner-Roberts stated the policy “contributes to ethnic hostility and an unsafe environment for Jewish students on campus, and as such, we hope to see a decisive response by your administration.”

Kirzner-Roberts further stated, “The ‘Palestine Solidarity Policy’ contains blatant disinformation about the actions of Israel and, even worse, engages in false claims about the Jewish people. Specifically, the policy refers to Israel as a 'settler-colonial' enterprise, which is an offensive and antisemitic slur.”

According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, antisemitism includes any efforts to deny “the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

“The overwhelming majority of Jews around the world support the state of Israel,” Kirzner-Roberts added. “Not only does this policy single out Jewish businesses for a targeted boycott, but it also extends this boycott to institutions, which could include the majority of synagogues as well as Jewish social and charitable organizations that stand with Israel. This policy suggests directly the possibility that Jewish clubs or organizations on campus may not be eligible for the same support from SSMU as other types of clubs, and even the threat of this – let alone the execution of it – cannot be tolerated.”

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