CFS-O moves to boycott Israel

Motion meets criticism from several groups


An organization representing university students’ unions across the province passed a unanimous emergency motion to boycott Israel at its general meeting last month.

The controversial resolution was submitted by the Ryerson Students’ Union at the general meeting of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario (CFS-O), the Canadian Press reported. The motion called on members to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel.

“Students have long been at the forefront of movements against foreign occupation, in support of peace and that movement will continue on campuses across Ontario,” said Anna Goldfinch, national executive representative of CFS-O. “This motion is reflective of having a province-wide endorsement of this campaign to start working across Ontario, not just local campuses.”

Over 30 students’ unions across Ontario–including UTMSU–are members of the CFS-O and over 100 delegates gathered to vote unanimously on the passing of the resolution. UTMSU President Hassan Havili did not respond to requests for comment; it is unconfirmed whether UTMSU sent a representative to the meeting.

Despite being passed unanimously, the CFS-O motion has received criticism from various groups, including from the Society of Graduate and Professional Students at Queen’s University, which is a CFS-O member but was unable to attend the meeting.

The Israel-Palestine conflict has been the subject of controversy at UTM in the past. In February of last year, UTMSU officially recognized the BDS movement. After receiving a total of 700 signatures from UTM’s Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) group, the motion was passed.

Last March, SAIA also hosted a “Hungry for Freedom” event which featured Skype calls with and recordings of freed Palestinian prisoners. The event and its content were reviewed by university administration amid concerns over its nature. SAIA also promoted the BDS Movement at the event.

In the past, the CFS-O has called on the Harper government to stop supplying arms to Israel and to end the Canada-Israel free trade agreement. The campaign has since moved on to advocate for the rights and freedoms of those affected by the military occupation within Gaza, along with supporting the right to education for Palestinian civil society.

Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, which has supporters and critics on both political sides of the Israel-Palestine controversy, is a movement created in 2005 by Palestinian NGOs to discourage the government of Israel to stop its alleged violations of Palestinian human rights.