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Letters: Weighing in on BDS


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Intergenerational resistance

Both of my late parents were McGill students at a time when standing for human rights meant opposing laws and practices that were used to discriminate against Jews and others. They were sometimes called unjustified names, but that didn’t stop them from taking principled stands for human rights back then.

True to form, those who have no real arguments now resort to predictable and unfounded name-calling against McGill Students in Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and the McGill BDS Action Network.

If they were with us today, Alice Boomhour (B.A., 1946) and Don Heap (B. Divinity, 1951) would be proud of the historic McGill BDS vote this week.

—David Heap, Ph.D.,
Professor at the University of Western Ontario

Support for justice in Palestine

What shall we say of a state that exerts total control over the entire territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, while disenfranchising more than half of its inhabitants for no offence but their ethnicity? Shall we say it is democratic? That would be a grotesque misnomer. Shall we say it represents the world’s Jews? That would be to slander the Jews. Yet we hear this slander over and over from the Prime Minister of Israel and his Canadian allies.

To combat this slander and defend democracy, we must resist the injustices of the State of Israel. Many in the forefront of the resistance, I am happy to remind you, are Jewish, in Canada and in Israel.

—Chandler Davis,
Professor of Mathematics, University of Toronto

Boycott of Israel unjustified, impractical

I read with understandable dismay that the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) had voted to boycott me – dismay more for what this says about the organization than for me as such, given that this decision will have no practical effect on either me or my colleagues. Nor will it help either Israeli Arabs in academia (and there are quite a few), nor help move forward the two-state solution, which I strongly support. In fact, the exact opposite will occur if there is an academic boycott of Israeli universities, with the side effect being that it will strengthen extremists, both Palestinian and Israeli – hardly a happy outcome.

It might interest McGill students to know that BDS was recently voted down, and quite handily at that, (by a margin of two to one) by those who should know, that is, members of the American Historical Association; as well just this week of course by our own House of Commons under the new Liberal Trudeau government.

With respect,

—A. Mark Clarfield, M.D.,
Professor at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel,
Adjunct professor at McGill University

Congratulations and good wishes for BDS

I wish to congratulate the students of McGill who stood up to the forces of apartheid by voting to support the BDS campaign. I wish them strength and joy in their decision, and hope that their courage will be honoured. I also wish them strength to continue to fight the forces of anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination and coercion within and without as they continue to support the oppressed in Palestine and across the entire Middle East and around the world.

—Pat Gibbs,
British Columbia