The B.C. Supreme Court has rejected a petition to stop the University of British Columbia’s student government from holding a referendum April 3-7 on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Justice Frits Verhoeven denied the petition March 29.
The referendum question is the same one the Alma Mater Society (AMS) asked students in 2015, which was defeated: ““Do you support your student union (AMS) in boycotting products and divesting from companies that support Israeli war crimes, illegal occupation and the oppression of Palestinians?”
The question was put forward by the UBC branch of the Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), which collected the required number of signatures to force a referendum, which was initially scheduled during AMS elections in the last week of March.
It was postponed after third-year commerce student Logan Presch filed a petition against it. He and his lawyer got a court order that delayed the vote until early April.
In his petition, Presch said the proposed question “is divisive, creates a toxic atmosphere for students supportive of the state of Israel, and is destructive of open and respectful debate on an important issue.”
It also raised safety concerns, he said, noting the 2015 referendum, “drove a wedge between religious groups on campus who had previously enjoyed inter-faith outreach and collaboration. Students outwardly opposed to the [referendum] encountered a hostile reaction, and there were reported acts of anti-Semitism on campus.”
In an affidavit, Rabbi Philip Bregman, executive director of Hillel BC, recalled that at the time, anti-BDS lawn…
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