Press Release: After historic win for the BDS movement, Concordia undergraduates invite all students to action

Version Française
Montreal, December 8, 2014

Students voted ‘Yes’ to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel’s occupation and segregation of Palestinians

BDS-demoConcordia undergraduate students voted ‘Yes’ to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian people and land, and now invite fellow students to participate in the BDS committee. “By joining this grassroots global movement for Palestinian human rights, students are highlighting the commitment of our campus to social justice and collective moral responsibility,” said Javier Hoyos, Chairperson of the Yes to BDS Committee.

“We thank students for their depth of character and their courage to contest our university’s complicity with violations of international human rights,” added Hoyos. “We’re glad that students were given the opportunity to read the information accompanying the altered question at the voting booth, as this allowed them to make an informed decision in spite of the opposition’s defamation of the BDS and their move to change the question hours before polls opened.”

The initial question proposed by the Yes Committee stated that the BDS stands against Israel’s occupation of Palestine until Israel respects International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights. Israel violates a number of United Nations Resolutions as well as the Geneva conventions through its occupation and settlements; and the International Court of Justice ruled Israel’s wall to be illegal. Concordia’s successful BDS vote is another step towards effectively and non-violently pressuring Israel to meet its obligations under international law, as exemplified in the global boycott movement to abolish apartheid in South Africa.

The BDS thus calls for the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the dismantling of the wall; full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

The BDS stands fundamentally against all forms of racism and does not target individuals, but rather institutions complicit with Israeli apartheid. “The next step is to invite Concordia students to join the BDS committee and continue in-depth research into Concordia’s ties to institutions complicit with Israel’s occupation,” said Hoyos.

Friday evening’s referendum results mean that Concordia’s two largest accredited student unions now officially support the BDS campaign; the Concordia Student Union (CSU; representing over 30,000 students) now joins the university’s Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), which endorsed the BDS in January 2013.

Javier Hoyos, on behalf of the Yes to BDS Committee
concordiabds [at] gmail [dot] com /

Photo: Demonstration in Solidarity with Gaza, Montreal, August 2014.


Communiqué de presse : Suite a une victoire historique pour le mouvement BDS, les etudiants du premier cycle a Concordia invitent tous les etudiants a l’action

English version
Montréal, le 8 décembre 2014

Les étudiants ont voté ‘Oui’ aux boycotts, désinvestissements et sanctions contre l’occupation et la ségrégation des Palestiniens par Israël

BDS-demoLes étudiants du premier cycle de l’université Concordia ont voté ‘Oui’ aux boycotts, désinvestissements et sanctions contre l’occupation illégale du territoire palestinien et l’oppression de son people, et invitent tous les étudiants à se joindre au comité BDS. “En participant à ce mouvement global de la société civile pour les droits humains des Palestiniens, les étudiants soulignent l’engagement de notre campus pour la justice sociale et la responsabilité morale collective,” a dit Javier Hoyos, président du comité ‘Oui aux BDS.’

“Nous remercions les étudiants pour leur force de caractère et leur courage en contestant la complicité de notre université avec les violations des droits humains internationaux,” a ajouté Hoyos. “Nous sommes ravis que les étudiants aient eu l’occasion, au moment du vote, de lire l’information accompagnant la question modifiée, car ceci leur a permis de prendre une décision informée en dépit de la diffamation du mouvement BDS par l’opposition et de son changement de la question à peine quelques heures avant l’ouverture du scrutin.”

La question initiale proposée par le comité pour le Oui affirmait que le mouvement BDS s’oppose à l’occupation de la Palestine par Israël jusqu’à tant que ce dernier respecte la loi internationale et les principes universels des droits humains. Au travers de son occupation et de ses colonies, Israël transgresse de nombreuses résolutions des Nations Unies, tout comme les conventions de Genève. Rappelons aussi que la Cour internationale de justice a décrété que le mur d’Israël est illegal. Le vote pour les BDS à Concordia représente un pas en avant dans la pression efficace et non-violente pour qu’Israël remplisse ses obligations à l’intérieur de la loi internationale, en suivant l’exemple du mouvement global de boycott pour abolir l’apartheid en Afrique du Sud.

Donc les BDS visent la fin de l’occupation et la colonisation du territoire palestinien par Israël et la démolition du mur; la pleine égalité pour les citoyens arabo-palestiniens d’Israël; et le respect du droit au retour des réfugiés palestiniens tel que stipulé dans la résolution 194 des Nations Unies.

Le mouvement BDS s’oppose à toute forme de racisme et ne vise aucun individu, mais plutôt les institutions complices de l’apartheid israëlien. “Notre prochain pas sera d’inviter les étudiants de notre université à se joindre au comité BDS et à continuer de mener une recherche approfondie au sujet des liens de l’université Concordia avec des institutions complices de l’occupation israëlien,” a dit Hoyos.

Les résultats du référendum de vendredi soir veulent dire que les deux plus grandes associations étudiantes accréditées à l’université Concordia appuient dorénavant la campagne BDS; la Concordia Student Union (CSU; qui represent plus que 30 000 étudiants et étudiantes) se joint maintenant à la Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) qui a endossé le mouvement BDS en janvier 2013.


Javier Hoyos, président du comité ‘Oui aux BDS’
concordiabds [at] gmail [dot] com /

A statement by YES to BDS Committee

The Yes to BDS Committee is saddened once again by recent news about the BDS referendum. Whether or not we win or lose, it is now clearer than ever that dishonest violations of elections procedures on the part of the No Committee have been treated with a light slap on the wrist, and the issue of serious human rights violations recognized by the United Nations is trivialized.

As per the recently released CEO’s sanction report, actions taken by the No Committee were in direct violation of several CSU Standing Regulations. These violations allowed an imbalanced campaigning playground: misinformation was used in various forms to dissuade the public from voting Yes to the BDS motion based on falsified information, as cited by the CEO. The No Committee used propaganda tactics restricting the Concordia undergraduate population from making an informed decision, in an attempt to shift the vote in their favor. The Yes to BDS Committee strongly condemns the insufficient reprimand on the part of the CEO against the No Committee, given the severity of the violations committed.

The sanction issued by the CEO for these violations is a fine totaling $150. Precedent has been set in previous election years, where candidates were given harsher sanctions, including disqualification for similar violations. As early as March 2014, the current CEO sanctioned an ENCS candidate for violating similar regulations such as the misrepresentation of facts, campaigning after the designated campaigning period, and intent to sabotage the election by not following the rules of fair play.[i] All of the above have been cited as direct violations undertaken by the No Committee.

While CSU regulations allow for disqualification of a candidate who violates an election regulation, the regulations lack in stating clear consequences for violations of referendum rules. At this point we have thus completely lost any remnant of faith in the CSU regulations.

The CEO’s report released December 4th outlines merely a few of the many regulations broken by the No Committee. The Yes Committee has compiled a comprehensive report of these and a myriad of other violations witnessed by its members, and will present it as part of the Judicial Board appeal for further investigation and sanctions.


Concordia’s BDS Referendum Fraught with Calculated Corruption and Broken Bylaws


Montreal, December 1, 2014

Concordia’s BDS Referendum Fraught with Calculated Corruption and Broken Bylaws

The Yes to BDS Committee condemns the failure of the democratic process surrounding the referendum on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of university ties to Israel’s illegal occupation

The Yes to BDS Committee at Concordia University condemns the No to BDS Committee’s multiple violations of referendum rules and the problematic nature of the regulations themselves. The No Committee’s actions are calculated tactics that have precedent at other universities and show contempt for the democratic process:

  • Hours before polls opened on November 25, the Yes Committee’s referendum question was altered by parties other than the Yes Committee itself. The final question was misleading and omitted the essential elements of the BDS demands: to cease Israel’s violation of international law and human rights.
  • The No Committee spread lies to the student body, notably that BDS is anti-Semitic and would strip Jewish students and professors of their rights within the university.

“They campaigned using misinformation, scare tactics, and caused confusion around the issue,” said Javier I. Hoyos, chairperson of the Yes Committee.

The Yes Committee also condemns the Concordia Student Union (CSU)’s incomplete referendum regulations that allowed the No Committee to violate the rules and derail the referendum process without any consequences to them. The CSU bylaws fall short in upholding the principles of the democratic process.

“This process has been undemocratic and Concordia students deserve better,” said Hoyos. Due to the undemocratic and calculated tactics employed by the No Committee, student voters’ ballots may never be counted, despite this student by-election bringing out more than 2,400 voters — compared with only 818 last year.

“Concordia’s current electoral process does not account for parties whose main priority is not to win the question but instead to sabotage it,” said Hoyos. The Yes Committee thus calls on the CSU to embark in a student-wide consultation process to reform the student union bylaws.

“Given the number of violations committed on the part of the No Committee, it is crystal clear that they did not fear sanctions nor the possibility of being disqualified, since that could result in the referendum results being called off.”

The BDS movement is rooted in the student resistance to apartheid South Africa. Like the Concordia Graduate Students’ Association’s already existent BDS mandate, the undergraduate BDS campaign targets Israeli companies and institutions complicit with the occupation of the Palestinian people and land, such as Concordia’s bilateral agreement with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which has cooperative research programs with two of Israel’s leading weapons developers, Rafael and Elbit.

Javier I. Hoyos, Chair of the Yes to BDS Committee