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BDS

Student Union at Concordia University in Montreal abandons support for BDS, posts apology to Jewish community for anti-Semitism.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

The student union at Quebec’s largest English-speaking university has formally abandoned its support for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, B’nai Brith Canada reported this week.

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) posted a lengthy apology to the Jewish community over anti-Semitism, making reference to anti-Semitic graffiti that had been spray-painted on campus and promising corrective measures, mandatory anti-Semitism training for club executives, and “the inclusion of a Jewish perspective in CSU operations.”

However, the statement made no reference to the CSU’s 2014 adoption of support for BDS, which has fueled hostility toward Jewish students on the Concordia campus.

B’nai Brith said it reached out to CSU representatives to commend their “bold apology” and urged them to fully implement it by abandoning BDS.

The CSU replied to the organization saying that it had done just that, removing all mention of the BDS Movement from its website.

The CSU had been the only Canadian student union outside of Ontario to adopt BDS. It had also been the only one known to have actually divested itself of holdings in Israeli companies.

B’nai Brith called the reversal “a significant setback for BDS in Canada.”

“The leadership of the Concordia Student Union should be commended for charting a brave and just new course,” said B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn. “The CSU’s formal move to reject BDS is a critical step in rebuilding trust with the Jewish community and should be followed by all student unions that still endorse that anti-Semitic endeavor.

“We at B’nai Brith will continue our efforts, until not a single student union remains in support of BDS in this country.”

In 2019 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned BDS, calling it a form of anti-Semitism that intimidated Jewish students on Canadian campuses.

Even before its 2014 adoption of BDS, the CSU had long been known as a hotbed of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel radicalism. In 2002, it opposed the appearance of then-Israeli Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu on campus, precipitating an infamous riot in which a Holocaust survivor was kicked in the groin and a rabbi and his wife were spat upon by anti-Israel protestors.

In January of this year, a 28-year-old man was arrested after defacing a Montreal synagogue with swastikas and attempting to set it on fire. He was found to have signed a pro-BDS petition while a student at Concordia, but was declared not criminally responsible for his attack on the synagogue following a psychiatric examination.

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