TEL AVIV – More than 150 professors at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, signed an open letter condemning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) movement, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The professors slammed the BDS Movement for trying to “squelch speech and intimidate those who support Israel’s right to exist.”
“As academics who represent a wide range of political views and methodologies, we all know that open discourse is essential to the pursuit of truth. Boycotts and intellectual bullying have no place at McGill or at any other institution of higher learning,” the professors wrote in the letter.
In February, the university’s principal and Vice Chancellor Suzanne Fortier issued a statement condemning BDS after a group of McGill undergraduate students rejected an online motion supporting the movement.
“As faculty members, past and present, who have devoted much of our professional lives to McGill, we are writing to tell you how proud we are of your courageous stance against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and for what you identified as ‘academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness, and the exchange of views and ideas in responsible, open discourse,’ ” the letter said.
“The BDS Movement repeatedly jumps from criticizing particular Israeli policies to delegitimizing the State of Israel. The July 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS quickly shifts from fighting ‘the occupation’ to demonizing Israel to rejecting Israel’s existence,” the letter stated.
The professors explained that even though they hold many different views regarding Israel and were in strong support of a discussion about some of its policies, the “tone and tactics of the BDS movement echo traditional anti-Semitic obsessions and tropes.”
“As educators, we are distressed when we hear our students telling us how uncomfortable they have been made to feel by an increasingly aggressive pursuit of the anti-Israel boycott, reflected by the repeated attempts to vote it in, no matter how many times the supporters fail,” they wrote.
When the student vote for the BDS motion was in progress, many Jewish students at the university reported being subjected to anti-Semitic slurs and said they no longer felt safe there.
“We all need to affirm our commitment to fighting bigotry of all kinds, even when masked behind human rights rhetoric or even if allied with political positions we might support. We fail when our students don’t feel genuinely safe in our university – and the BDS movement has made McGill students feel unsafe, unsupported, and unwelcome in their and our academic home,” the professors wrote.