STUDENTS TAKE ON ISRAEL

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By John Shmuel

A Ryerson Students’ Union executive wants the Canadian Federation of Students to boycott Israel, accusing the country of being an apartheid state.

Heather Kere, RSU VP of Education, will present a motion to boycott the country at the CFS National General Meeting on Nov. 21.

“The apartheid in Israel is something that I think we should be aware of, and we should be boycotting it the same way as we did with South Africa,” she said. Kere added that a number of students had brought the issue to her attention.

Last month, Kere submitted a motion recommending a boycott at an RSU board meeting. She said the seven RSU delegates to the CFS assembly all support the wording of the document.

The motion Kere proposed would investigate creating a task force for the CFS that would examine the feasibility of a full blown boycott campaign against Israel.

“It would really be up to the task force to see how the boycott would be carried out. But it would involve education and uncovering ties to Israel,” she said.

Kere added the boycott would also include companies that provide financial support to Israel, much the same way as Chapters Indigo has been boycotted by Palestinian human rights groups.

Tilly Shames, associate director of Hillel of Greater Ontario, rejected the idea of a boycott saying it was counter-productive.

“We want to encourage an environment where genuine dialogue to peace in the Middle East can take place. That dialogue will be silenced by a boycott,” she said.

The idea of academic institutions boycotting Israel attracted widespread attention earlier this year when several universities in the United Kingdom proposed the idea.

Motions passed by the University and College Union (UCU) in the U.K. condemned what it called the “denial of education rights to Palestinians.”

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy issued a statement on July 9 supporting Israeli academics. The RSU demanded Levy retract his statements in September, but he refused.

Levy said he is aware of the motion being brought to the CFS.

“I think it’s absolutely the wrong thing to do,” he said. “My position was clear, and it remains such.”

He added he supports debate over whether the boycott against Israel should take place.

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