To our friends at McGill:
We congratulate and celebrate with all of you whose tireless work these past weeks – and over the last ten years – successfully mobilized more than 2,100 undergraduate students to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people. This is a major victory, and one accomplished in the face of massive anti-Palestinian mobilization by off-campus organizations. The motion’s defeat does nothing to shake our faith in what has by now become clear: the tide is turning against Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its people.
Launched in 2005, BDS is an important tool in the struggle for Palestinian liberation. Around the world, students, academic associations, labour unions, community groups, and individuals are joining in support of the movement’s three demands: the end of the portion of the occupation that began in 1967 and the dismantling of its walls, the equal rights of Arab citizens of Israel, and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands.
At McGill, the motion’s endorsement by groups like KANATA (the Journal of McGill’s Indigenous Studies Community), Queer McGill, the Association of McGill University Support Employees (AMUSE), the Black Students’ Network of McGill, the Women of Colour Collective of McGill Law, and McGill Against Austerity is a reminder that to stand with the Palestinians in their struggle also means actively fighting against racial, patriarchal, economic, and settler-colonial oppression in all its forms.
In light of this, we are disgusted – yet unsurprised – by an email sent by McGill principal Suzanne Fortier to students and alumni immediately after the results of the online ratification were announced condemning the BDS movement in the name of “the tolerance and respect we cherish as values fundamental to a university.” We reject the principal’s unilateral adoption of a political position in the university’s name without democratically consulting students and other workers.
We are also curious to hear what McGill finds tolerant or respectful about its continued investment in the surveillance corporation L-3 Communications, the Israeli bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, and RE/MAX – all of which actively support and profit from the occupation, incarceration, and murder of Palestinians. All this while the university for years resisted the creation of an Indigenous Studies Program, and while it continues to oppose fossil fuel divestment and an end to its military research collaboration.
The fight goes on, but we will not be discouraged: from the principal’s office, to the government of Justin Trudeau, to the Israeli Knesset, the reactionary response to BDS is increasingly desperate. This is the direct result of the Palestinian-led movement and the work of all of you who offer your time, energy, and resources in support of their cause and the cause of oppressed and occupied people everywhere.
With enormous love,
-Over 300 former students and alumni