(JTA) — Students at Montreal’s McGill University failed to ratify a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions motion against Israel. In online voting last week by undergraduates, the motion was rejected 2,819-2,119 (57 percent to 43 percent), with 440 abstentions. It had passed in the university’s student society on Feb. 22 by a vote of 512-357, and was seen as a blow by pro-Israel students. “The BDS movement, which among other things calls for universities to cut ties with Israeli universities, flies in the face of the tolerance and respect we cherish as values fundamental to a university,” McGill’s principal and vice chancellor, Suzanne Fortier, said in a statement. “It proposed actions that are contrary to the principles of academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness, and the exchange of views and ideas in responsible open discourse.” Fortier said McGill, which has maintained silence on the issue, could not react to the BDS issue until the online vote deadline passed “out of respect for the student governance process.”
Pro-BDS forces at McGill have tried and failed three times over the past 18 months to pass a BDS motion. On the same day the motion was passed by the student government, the Canadian Parliament passed a measure formally condemning BDS. Over the past few years, several Canadian universities have passed pro-BDS motions.