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Arielle Branitsky

BDS Motion Defeated at University of Winnipeg

by Rhonda Spivak Nov 9, 2017

The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDScampaign against Israel suffered a significant defeat at the University of Winnipeg (UW) student union vote that occurred on October 25.
In order to secure a victory a two-thirds majority in the vote was needed. As Arielle Branitsky, Hillel director and outreach consultant for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg indicated to the Winnipeg Jewish Review, the pro-Israel side received votes from both Jewish and non-Jewish students out of the approximately 45-50 students in total who appeared at the meeting.
"Approximately 36 students, many of whom were Jewish, attended the meeting to vote against the motion. Many of those students also served as a proxy for other students, Jewish and non-Jewish, who could not attend the meeting. Therefore, those 36 students represented approximately 70 votes," Branitsky said


According to Branitsky, " there were non-Jewish students involved in every aspect of defeating the motion. They signed proxies, came in person, and spoke against the motion as part of the debate."


When asked about  the strategy to defeat the motion and about how many students actively worked on defeating the motion, Branitsky explained that " Hillel helped to identify five student leaders, who actively took on the role of recruiting students to attend the meeting or submit proxy forms to allow others to vote on their behalf. The success of these students’ work to rally their peers, lead to the turnout necessary to defeat the motion. With more than 2/3 of the votes, between those present and proxies, against the motion, the students were able to vote on this motion, assured the results would be in their favour."



The motion claimed that Israel is “engaged in a process of settler-colonization of the Palestinian territories and domination and violence against the Palestinian People, which has earned condemnation around the globe from governments, human rights organizations and communities of all faiths and backgrounds, and which was described in a report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia as an ‘apartheid regime.'



Branitsky  said that Hillel is thankful for the support from many community organizations in fighting BDS on campus.


"We are especially appreciative of CIJA [Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs] and StandWithUs Canada for their dedication to helping this campaign to defeat BDS be a success. We will continue to offer support to our students and the campus community as a whole. Hillel will be offering various advocacy training workshops and educational events in the coming months to help students feel better prepared and raise awareness in the mindset of the average student."


When asked whether another  attempt be made to pass an amended motion, Branitsky replied that " This motion as it is worded cannot be presented again, but a reworded version definitely can be submitted by a student. Nothing is guaranteed, but it is absolutely possible that a new motion will be presented in the future and we’ll be ready to defeat that too."



“This campaign of hate against Israel has no place on campus,” StandWithUs Canada campus director Zina Rakhamilova was quoted as saying about this matter in the Canadian Jewish News. “Motions such as these only fuel racism and deepen divisions, while doing nothing to advance meaningful dialogue on the conflict. With this vote, UW students stood up for justice and said no to hate at their university,” she said to the Canadian Jewish News.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.