McGill donors reconsider support after Israel boycott vote

Some of McGill University’s donors are rethinking their financial support in reaction to Monday’s vote in favour of a motion calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

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The vote still has to be ratified by McGill students, but even if it's voted down, reaction has been swift and furious to the initial successful BDS motion.

“I actually sent [the university] an email yesterday informing them I was going to suspend my commitment until I see how the administration handles this,” said McGill Law school graduate Willie Mercer, who now lives in Los Angeles.

In total, 869 students out of 30,000 voted on Monday, with 512 voting for, 357 against and 14 abstentions.

The university declined to comment about the number of alumni who have contacted them, but CTV spoke to Montreal lawyer Hershey Frankel, who said he wrote McGill asking for their position on BDS.

He says he's satisfied by the response he received from the vice president of university advancement, obtained by CTV, which states in part that "McGill’s current and past administrations have consistently taken a strong stand against the premise underlying the BDS movement, and this motion will not change that."

Mercer said he thinks McGill needs to make a public statement.

“I recognize that it's O.K. to criticize Israel, that's fine, but if you criticize Israel and only Israel and ignore what I consider to be far more significant human rights violations in pretty much every other country in the Middle East … it's hard to make the case that it's not an anti-Semitic motion,” he said.

Members of McGill’s BDS Action Network, which promotes the BDS campaign, say they're not surprised by the reaction.

“We've seen the same thing happen at other universities. There is always resistance to movements that challenge the status quo,” Zahra Habib said.

Students are voting online now to validate the vote – 10 per cent of students need to vote online to form a quorum. If quorum isn’t reached, the results are null and void. If it is, the motion needs a simple majority to pass.


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