In late January, as reported by Jpost, Israeli student Stav Daron was told by the administrators at the British Columbia Island School of Building Arts (ISBA), a Canadian trade school, that he could not attend their school due “to the conflict and illegal settlement activity in the region.” The school’s response to Daron’s interest in enrolling was ended with the following proclamation: “[W]e are not accepting applications from Israel.” Daron, a civil engineering student and amateur carpenter, had gone as far as already purchasing a book from the school in preparation for his classes.
The news of Daron’s plight soon reached Jewish organizations throughout Canada. Canada’s Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), as well as B’nai Birth Canada, demanded clarification and a retraction of the policy. After the media began reporting the story of Daron’s rejection, ISBA quickly reversed their initial decision. An email sent to the CIJA clarified ISBA’s new position, stating that “[a]fter significant thought and listening to all interested parties, ISBA has decided to rescind any restriction placed on accepting students from Israel…ISBA remains acceptant to all and will continue to do so without restrictions.”
Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said he was “pleased with the speedy resolution,” though questioned why the incident had occurred in the first place. Regardless of the quick action taken by the Canadian Jewish community, as well as the final reversal of the decision, the damage was dealt. Daron, posting publicly on his Facebook profile page, has said that he will not reapply to the school following this incident.
This attempted boycott of a student highlights a disturbing reality of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement within academic circles: the human cost. While BDS stipulates a repudiation of perceived crimes committed by Israel, it goes much further than just refusing to buy Israeli products or refusing to attend Israeli academic conferences. The actions promoted by BDS lead to these situations, where simply having been born as an Israeli Jew is enough for a person to be ostracized and rebuffed from a community that is supposedly “acceptant to all.”
ISBA, as reported by Haaretz, stated in its final email to Daron that the policy had been in an effort to “[stay] in line with our moral compass.” ISBA finished by stating that “[we] are still inclusive and cannot support that which is not inclusive.” The fallacy of this logic was pointed out by Daron in his final contact with the school; he stated that “not taking applications from Israeli students just because they are from Israel is racism, which is basically what you are protesting against.”