McGill U. Student Society Brands BDS 'Unconstitutional'

The move, which still awaits ratification by society's board, is being hailed as a victory by pro-Israel groups on a campus where boycott motions have tried but failed to pass three times over 18 months.

A file photo of the McGill University campus in Montreal, Canada.
Bloomberg

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions resolutions that “actively campaign” against Israel run counter to the McGill University’s undergraduate student union constitution, the union’s judicial board agreed.

While the board decision, called a “reference,” still faces ratification by the Student Society of McGill University’s board of directors, the move on Wednesday is being hailed as a victory on a campus where BDS motions have tried but failed to pass three times over 18 months.

The decision “is a clear signal that the SSMU understands the nature of BDS on campus,” said Patrick Benaroche of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Quebec.

The reference was the judicial board’s response to a complaint filed in March by a McGill student upset over the third BDS motion proposed at the university a month earlier.

The student, Zev Macklin, considered the motion unconstitutional.

In its reference, the board stressed that it was not issuing a judgment, only an “advisory opinion,” and that the opinion allowed for condemning actions by nations – but not the nations themselves.

It noted that its opinion might have been different had the pro-BDS motion restricted itself to calling on McGill to curtail its investment in countries cooperating in Israel’s occupation.

But the motion also supported the overall aims of the BDS movement against Israel itself, the judicial board said.