Canadian Jews oppose attempts to undermine student union federation on account of BDS vote

OTTAWA, 26 September 2019–Canadian Jewish group, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), is outraged that pro-Israel advocacy groups have been working to diminish student voices by attacking the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). CFS is the largest student union in Canada, representing over 530,000 students.

B’nai Brith Canada, Hasbara Fellowships, StandWithUs, and the Alpha Epsilon Pi Foundation have launched a campaign to encourage students to opt out of student union fees on CFS Ontario campuses. The groups contend that CFS’ November 2018 vote in favour or the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement amounts to “antisemitism”. This is despite the fact that CFS adopted another resolution at its November 2018 general assembly to revitalize its No Anti-Semitism campaign with new materials and campus implementation strategies.

“We applaud the Canadian Federation of Students for its commitment to Palestinian human rights as well as to fighting antisemitism,” said Corey Balsam, IJV National Coordinator. “And, no, these efforts are not in any way contradictory.”  

BDS is a grassroots, nonviolent campaign launched by Palestinian civil society groups to apply pressure on Israel to end its military occupation of Palestinian territories and to grant equal rights to Palestinians. It has gained broad support among Canadians over the past years, especially on university campuses.

“Attempts by right wing pro-Israel groups to smear the CFS is an affront to the long tradition of Canadian students involvement in international social justice and human rights issues,” said Balsam. “Jews across Canada, and especially young Jews, are waking up to the moral disaster that is Israel’s racist treatment of Palestinians. A vote for BDS is a vote for justice and peace in Israel-Palestine.”

IJV is concerned that the Israeli government and pro-Israel lobby and advocacy groups are twisting society’s legitimate concern about antisemitism as a way to supress criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian human rights. Many of these efforts rely on a controversial new definition of antisemitism that is being weaponized against the Palestine solidarity movement. 

IJV is among over 40 Jewish organizations worldwide that have spoken out collectively against this definition and broader efforts to equate BDS with antisemitism. According to a recent survey, almost half of Canadian Jews believe that accusations of antisemitism are “often used to silence legitimate criticism of Israeli policies.” 

For more information about IJV’s campaign to challenge attempts to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism, go to

For media inquiries, please contact: Corey Balsam, National Coordinator,, 514-437-2940.