Two Councillors Present Bad Faith Motion Regarding BDS Endorsement In Positions Book

Motion to Point Out “Impracticality” of Position Fails

The Concordia Student Union’s Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions section stated in their positions book has been called into question. Photo Ireland Compton

During the regular Concordia Student Union council meeting on Jan. 8, a motion that two councillors did not intend to pass, or be taken seriously at all, was brought forward by John Molson School of Business councillor Mathew Levitsky-Kaminski and seconded by fellow JMSB councillor Mitchell Schecter.

The proposal was regarding the CSU’s positions book and the endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The CSU’s positions book currently states that “The CSU endorses the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel’s occupation of Palestine until Israel complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights.”

The motion said that while the positions book endorses BDS, “the CSU is using products and services developed using Israeli technology.” As such, the motion pressed that the “CSU bans the use of products and services that support and or, [sic] were developed by Israeli technology during all CSU meetings, events, and any other affiliated functioning.” The list of companies put forward by the two councillors were Intel, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Caterpillar, ​Hewlett Packard​, Nestlé, and Apple.

The goal, the two councillors said, was to showcase the dissonance in the positions book.

It was revealed, however, that the councillors did not intend the motion to pass, or be taken seriously at all.

“Before us today is a motion that is not only completely nonsensical, but highlights how impractical a position can be. Under our current position, we would all have to dispose of our phones, computers, and wearables due to its internal technologies,” said Levitsky-Kaminski.

“All of you should be able to discern that this position does not make sense to implement because we have been in violation and will continue to violate this position until we take the decision to get rid of it once and for all,” he said.

It was a motion that Levitsky-Kaminski put forward in “the hopes of it not passing.”

Schecter added that “Mathew [Levitsky-Kaminski] and I made this motion to show that we should have a motion and not stand by it. Also, we shouldn’t have anything to do with international affairs. We want policies that bring us all together.”

Several problems with the motion were brought forward by other council members.

“Nowhere does it say that we can’t do business with them, it just says that we do not support them.” —Maha Siddiqui

It was indicated by the council chairperson, C​aitlin Robinson, that the “mover cannot speak in opposition of their own motion.”

A misunderstanding of the role of the positions book was also mentioned. Arts and science councillor Elizabeth Tasong pointed out that the endorsement of BDS in the positions book had occurred by referendum in 2014, and that the elimination of the endorsement would require another referendum.

Arts and science councillor Maha Siddiqui also questioned the implication put forth by the JMSB councillors that the positions book was binding, saying that the endorsement of BDS “is just a position.”

She added that “nowhere does it say that we can’t do business with them, it just says that we do not support them. These are major clarification that need to be said.”

The claims brought forward by the motion were also put into question.

“For those who claim that the CSU should not take a political stance, I hate to break it to you, but the CSU is a political organization,” said Siddiqui. “It is normal for us to uphold international rights, no matter what race they are, no matter what faith they have, all humans deserve dignity and for their human rights to be respected.”

Siddiqui also added that BDS and anti-semitism should not be conflated.

Ultimately, the motion failed, with 17 votes against and two abstentions out of 19 total votes. A vote to put the council meeting into closed session before the presentation of the motion also failed to receive enough votes.

With files from Alexandre Denis

This article has been updated to provide additional clarity to Mathew Levitsky-Kaminski and Mitchell Schecter’s position.