Votes were tallied late Friday, April 7, for the referendum on the University of British Columbia campus, wherein students were asked if they supported their union in a BDS campaign – and the answer was no. The “no” vote numbered 1,513 while 1,396 students voted “yes” to “boycotting products and divesting from companies that support Israeli war crimes, illegal occupation and the oppression of Palestinians.”
It was the second time in two years that a BDS referendum on campus was defeated and Rabbi Philip Bregman, executive director of Hillel BC, said he was thrilled. “In all honesty, this referendum is nothing more than a call for the elimination of the state of Israel,” he noted. “We had students from all over the university, Jewish and non-Jewish, join in the fight against this, and what’s important is that this was a clearly made statement.”
Bregman said the “yes” side had started out with 1,000 votes in their pocket because they had needed 1,000 signatures to make the referendum possible in the first place. “In the final analysis, they didn’t have enough votes, and they didn’t make quorum because only 5.5% of the students voted. In order for the referendum to pass, they needed votes from eight percent of the student body, over 4,300 votes in their favour, and they had to beat the ‘no’ side,” he explained. “They got neither.”
Stephen Gaerber, board chair of Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, praised the work of Hillel BC, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and StandWithUs Canada. “Kol hakavod to the students and student leaders who worked so hard to make the truth evident to the student body and achieve this positive outcome,” he said in a press release issued April 9. “Their efforts were instrumental in helping maintain a welcoming and inclusive campus environment for everyone.”
Lauren Kramer, an award-winning writer and editor, lives in Richmond. To read her work online, visit laurenkramer.net. This article was originally published by CJN.