More than 150 current and past McGill University faculty members have signed an open letter condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
Addressed to McGill principal Suzanne Fortier, the letter congratulates her on her “courageous stance” denouncing BDS and distancing the university from its goals. Fortier made the statement immediately following the defeat of a BDS motion by the Students’ Society of McGill University in February.
In March, 45 McGill faculty members issued a statement endorsing BDS and strongly disagreeing with Fortier.
The signatories to the anti-BDS letter said the “tone and tactics of the BDS movement echo traditional anti-Semitic obsessions and tropes.”
The signatories in particular cited Fortier’s strong position on “academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness and the exchange of views and ideas in a responsible and open discourse.”
BDS “tries to squelch speech and intimidate those who support Israel’s right to exist,” they stated.
“Boycotts and intellectual bullying have no place at McGill or at any other institution of higher learning,” they wrote.
They said they have heard from pro-Israel students that they are made to feel “uncomfortable… by an increasingly aggressive pursuit” of BDS on campus.
“The campaign has made McGill students feel unsafe, unsupported, and unwelcome,” the letter reads.
The faculty members said that, among them, they hold many different opinions about Israel and favour “robust debate” about the country’s policies. But the BDS campaign’s “disproportionate focus on Israel” does not “leave much scope for debate.”
Among the signatories are former dean of medicine Abraham Fuks, cellist Matt Haimovitz, Gerhard Herzberg Medal-winning astrophysicist Victoria Kaspi and chemist Joe Schwarcz.
McGill currently has over 1,600 faculty members.