Why are so many campus student unions voting on BDS motions this year?

Simon Fraser University is the fifth university in 2022 whose student council is voting on adopting a motion to support Palestine and oppose Israel. (Photo courtesy of Simon Fraser University/Flickr Creative Commons)

On Wednesday, the student council at Simon Fraser University will vote to approve a motion entitled “Establishing an SFSS Issues Policy on Palestinian Liberation”. The motion supports resisting “Israeli settler colonialism” and pushes for the end of “colonization of all Arab lands”—though it doesn’t define what those lands are.

Regular listeners of this podcast can be forgiven for thinking they’ve heard this story before. Simon Fraser has become the latest in a recent string of student councils that have passed, or are on the verge of passing, pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel policies that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The four other schools have been the University of Toronto, McGill, Concordia and the University of British Columbia.

What exactly is behind this trend? Why is it happening now, and why should Jewish Canadians not simply dismiss the actors as a bunch of radical students passing toothless motions in a campus echo chamber? To answer these questions, we’re joined by Gilli Cohen, a 22-year-old who works for Hillel in B.C., and Jonah Fried, a 21-year-old history student and activist at McGill, who are living through this battle in real-time.

What we talked about:


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.