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Canada: students overwhelmingly back ‘policy against genocide in Palestine’

November 21, 2023 at 1:46 pm

Students at McGill University main campus in Montreal, Quebec, founded in 1821, on October 6, 2021 [DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images]

McGill University students in Canada have voted by a massive 78.7 per cent margin to adopt a “policy against genocide in Palestine” in support of Palestinian rights and condemning Israel’s oppression. The landmark referendum result represents a growing generational shift towards support for justice in Palestine.

The policy adopted demands that McGill University should “publicly condemn the genocidal campaign and siege against the people of Gaza at the hands of the Zionist regime” and further “demands that [our] university immediately cut ties with, and divest from corporations, institutions, and donors complicit in genocide, settler-colonialism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians.”

Students resoundingly rejected McGill’s shameful complicity in enabling Israel’s brutal occupation. Their vote sends an unequivocal message: the student body will no longer tolerate the university undermining Palestinian liberation.

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This stunning outcome demonstrates that today’s youth will remain steadfast in championing the Palestinians, despite intimidation and other attempts to crush pro-Palestine activism. Students are following in the footsteps of Palestinians struggling for freedom resolutely for over 75 years.

Predictably, the McGill administration tried to suppress the referendum to shield Israel from accountability. Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) reported that the administration tried and failed to block the policy before the referendum vote even began. SPHR predicted that McGill “will likely defy the democratic will of students who spoke out for Palestinian rights in historic numbers.”

Calling on the student union, SPHR said: “Our elected representatives in SSMU must ensure that the demands of their constituents are met. As our student union, the SSMU has the duty to resist threats from the McGill administration and defend the democratic decision of its students, following the largest show of support for a policy in SSMU’s history.”

There has been a major shift in the support for Palestinians on both sides of the Atlantic, especially among the younger generation. Among younger Americans there is more outright support for Palestinians than Israel, a report by the Financial Times has found. Support for Israel among Democrats has dropped to as low as 11 per cent, highlighting the broader shift underway in public support for the Palestinian cause.

In the UK, there is also a generational and a political divide. Israel has large support only amongst the demographic cohort above 65 years of age who vote for the Conservative Party.

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