UMSU condemns federation’s support of BDS

Motion calls Canadian Federation of Students endorsement “unnecessary and ill-considered”

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UMSU passed a motion condemning the Canadian Federation of Students for affirming its support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement at its last meeting of 2018 in December.

The motion, which was brought forward by member at large Max Block, was put to a vote and passed at the Dec. 6 board meeting.

The motion includes notes that it was brought forward “not on the basis that it recognizes the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic” and calls the federation’s motion “an unnecessary and ill-considered intervention into international politics for a student federation.”

Members of the Canadian Federation of Students voted to endorse the BDS movement, which calls for non-violent activism to, according to the movement’s official website, “end international support for Israeli violations of international law by forcing companies, institutions and governments to change their policies,” at the federation’s annual general meeting (AGM) in November 2018.

UMSU voted against the motion at the AGM.

UMSU president Jakob Sanderson said the board decided to bring forward the motion after already voting against it at the meeting because the union wanted to formally condemn the federation’s passed motion.

“While we’re certainly in no way trying to oppose BDS as a movement, I think that it’s just a matter of UMSU restating its independence to be able to represent our members as we see fit, and in as united a way as possible,” he said.

Along with the condemnation, UMSU’s motion also calls for the board to reject the federation’s call to action, release statements affirming UMSU’s “unequivocal support” for both Palestinian and Israeli communities on campus, and that UMSU work with “the Muslim Student Association, the University of Manitoba chapter of Hillel, the University of Manitoba Spiritual Care and any other interested groups, to arrange an event surrounding interfaith dialogue and peace.”

Sanderson said the federation’s decision to support the BDS movement was not inclusive of all students in the federation.

“UMSU stands to rebuke the idea that student federations that our members pay into are pursuing what is, in our board’s view, divisive practices that are not beneficial to the student movement at large and are not representative of the united views of our students.”