Letter to the Editor: UW Referendum

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All Major Parties Agree: Oppose BDS, Vote No in Upcoming UW Referendum

For those of you who don’t know, the University of Waterloo will be having a referendum this coming week on the question of severing ties with academic institutions in Israel, and in so doing supporting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. For those of you who have not heard of the BDS movement, its aim is to isolate Israel politically, academically, and economically through the use of boycotts of Israeli products, divestment from Israeli businesses and economic and academic sanctions against the Israeli government and other Israeli institutions.

As an individual who is opposed to the passing of the referendum, my opinion is often immediately discounted, saying because I am conservative, or because I am Jewish, of course I support the State of Israel and thus must also oppose this referendum. Yet a point that I cannot stress enough that often surprises the people I speak with regarding the referendum is I am not alone in my opposition to the BDS movement, and that, in fact, all three major Canadian political parties share my views on the isolationist, unfairly alienating BDS movement.

Unsurprisingly, the federal progressive conservatives oppose the BDS movement and its attempts to single out Israel on the world stage. Just take former Foreign Affairs minister John Baird’s comments on the movement, which he described as, “the new face of anti-Semitism.” Baird continues his opposition, and called upon the Harper government to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy towards groups that attempt to align themselves with this new, anti-Israel movement.

A fact that has surprised many of my more liberal friends is the position of the New Democrat party and its leader Tom Mulcair, who has gone on record in opposition of the BDS movement, saying that “to say that you’re personally in favour of boycott, divestment and sanctions for the only democracy in the Middle East is, as far as I’m concerned, grossly unacceptable.”

Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed his opposition to this inappropriate movement, tweeting as recently as last March that, “the BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses.” The alignment of the three major political parties on this issue should serve as a message to us as Canadians: the BDS movement seeks to isolate Israel, an allied Western democracy that shares our cultural and societal values, and as such it should be unequivocally opposed.

The adoption of this movement by any group certainly does not help the complicated situation in the Middle East, but rather serves to complicate matters further by singling out and alienating the world’s only Jewish state on the international stage. Thus, regardless of our political alignments, religious beliefs or cultural backgrounds, we should all vote no on the upcoming UW FEDS referendum, and together decline to support the further isolation and alienation of the nation state of the Jewish people.

B. Shane Morganstein

 

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