On March 21, in an historic vote at the largest students' union in Canada, York University's undergraduate students' union, the York Federation of Students (YFS), voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution to endorse the Global Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid. In passing this BDS resolution, the YFS now joins many student unions around the world, who have all passed similar resolutions. In Canadian universities, the BDS campaign has had several milestones in the last year at Carleton University (Graduate Students' Association), University of Regina (Student Union) and most recently, York University (Graduate Students' Association) and University of Toronto (Graduate Students' Union).
The resolution was drafted in response to the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a means to pressure it to comply with international law and to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; allow Palestinian refugees their internationally guaranteed right to return to their homes and villages; and grant equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel.
With 18 votes in favour and 2 opposed, the board of the York Federation of Students passed the resolution to endorse the BDS campaign, as well as demand that York University abide by the BDS call; specifically urging the University to withdraw its investments from Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Amphenol and other companies that are selling weapons and military equipment to Israel .
"The oppression of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli state is not some far off issue that we can choose to ignore. We are already deeply implicated in the human rights violations of the Israeli State through our investments in the above-mentioned companies. We do not have the privilege to remain 'neutral' on this issue," said Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) York collective member Huda Al-Sarraj.
In November of this academic year, SAIA York achieved its first BDS success with the passing of a BDS motion at the York University Graduate Students' Association (GSA). SAIA York now hopes to bring its demand for divestment to the York University Administration by lobbying for the implementation of a socially responsible investment policy. With the support of the GSA and the YFS, as well as the TA's, GA's and contract faculty union, CUPE 3903, which passed a BDS motion in 2006, SAIA York will now demand an end to the investment of university funds into companies that profit from violations of international law and human rights.
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