Goals of the BDS movement
In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations appealed to the international community to impose a strategy of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) as a way to pressure the Israeli government to respect Palestinian rights and international law. The BDS movement will end once Israel complies with these three demands: 1) End its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall; 2) Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and 3) Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Why is CJPME calling for a boycott of Israel?
- Over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations have asked for such a boycott. They did so because the international community's attempts to modify Israel's conduct by "constructive engagement" (i.e.dialogue, pressure at the UN, etc.) have failed entirely. Successive Israeli governments have ignored dozens of UN resolutions condemning Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories and the Golan Heights, its siege of Gaza, its establishment of illegal colonies (settlements) in occupied Palestinian territories, and its systemic discrimination against Palestinians resident in the occupied territories and Israel. Israeli governments have also violated most of the key commitments they undertook in signed peace accords to stop engaging in those actions. Since Israel is an image-conscious, trade-dependent country, a boycott may well work where diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiations have not.
- Many multinational and Israeli companies are violating international law by investing in or profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. Click here for targeted brands and why you should boycott them. All economic ties with Israel - even ones not directly implicated in the occupation - bolster its economy. This in turn has helped successive governments fund and promote the Occupation.
- BDS tactics have had success in other contexts, including the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa. We can learn from this legacy, which shows that non-violent resistance and economic pressure can play a major role in challenging systems of oppression.
To learn more about why BDS is justified, check out these quick talking points.
What injustices are being committed by Israel?
The original Palestinian call for BDS was motivated by the following injustices by Israel…
- Continued construction of the Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory in contempt of the International Court of Justice’s 2004 finding that the Wall and its associated regime are illegal.
- Continued expansion of Israeli colonies, to a population of almost 500,000, 40 years into Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights.
- Unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and de facto annexation of large parts of the West Bank by means of the Wall.
- Sixty years after the State of Israel was built mainly on land ethnically cleansed of its Palestinian owners, a majority of Palestinians are still refugees, most of whom are stateless.
- Israel’s entrenched system of racial discrimination against its own Arab-Palestinian citizens.
Each of these acts is in violation of International Law and, most notably, International Humanitarian Law.
Responding to criticisms
Sometimes, BDS is criticized and it is important to know what to do if ever you hear BDS being criticized as being, for example, antisemitic or violent. Check out the resources below to stand up for BDS!
- For an overview of BDS and some common questions, see Factsheet 195 - BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions)
- Wondering how to respond to accusations that your solidarity with Palestinians is 'singling out Israel'? Scroll through our workshop PowerPoint (and share it with friends!)
- Check out these common myths about Palestinian-Israel
Below is a list of Canadian organizations that have endorsed the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS), which originated in 2005 as a call from Palestinian civil society. Organizations to endorse BDS include labour unions, political parties, student organizations, churches, social movements, NGOs, and more. Also mentioned are organizations who have not endorsed BDS per se, but nonetheless support imposing economic pressure on Israel in response to human rights violations.
Last updated: April 2022
- Labour Unions
- Student Unions & Associations
- Political Parties
- Churches and Religious Organizations
- Social movements, NGOs, and Charitable Organizations
- Partial or Unofficial BDS Support
Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-ON) (May 2006), 240,000 members
- Fédération nationale des enseignantes et des enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN) / Quebec Teachers Union (June 2007), 34,000 members
- Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) / Syndicat des travailleurs et travailleuses des Postes (STTP) (April 2008), 51,000 members
- Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) / Quebec House of Labour (June 2009), 200,000 members, including:
- Fédération des professionnelles et professionnels de l’éducation du Québec (CSQ)
- Fédération des syndicats de l’enseignement (FSE)
- Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (CSQ)
- Fédération du personnel de l’enseignement privé (CSQ)
- Fédération des enseignantes et enseignants de cégep (FEC-CSQ)
- Fédération du personnel professionnel des collèges (CSQ)
- Fédération du personnel de soutien de l’enseignement supérieur (FPSES)
- Fédération des syndicats de la santé et des services sociaux (CSQ)
- Fédération de la santé du Québec (FSQ)
- Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance du Québec (FIPEQ)
- Association des retraitées et retraités de l’éducation et des autres services publics du Québec (CSQ)
- College and University Workers United (CUWU) (2009)
- Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain de la confédération des syndicats nationaux (CCMM-CSN) (May 2010)
- Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) (2012), 215,000+ members
- Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) / Confederation of National Trade Unions (April 2015), 325,000 members, including:
- Fédération du commerce (FC)
- Fédération des employées et employés de services publics (FEESP)
- Fédération de l’industrie manufacturière (FIM)
- Fédération nationale des communications (FNC)
- Fédération nationale des enseignantes et enseignants du Québec (FNEEQ)
- Fédération des professionèles (FP)
- Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS)
- Syndicat des agents correctionnels du Canada (UCCO–SACC–CSN)
- UNIFOR (August 2017), 350,000 members
Centre International De Solidarité Ouvrière (CISO) (October 2021), coalition of more than 60 Québec trade unions and civil society organizations, including:
- Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ)
- Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)
- Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ)
- Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ)
- Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique du secteur public de la santé et des services (APTS)
(Partial or unofficial support for BDS: Canadian Labour Congress, Ontario Federation of Labour. See below).
- Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ) / Association for Student Union Solidarity (October 2007), 80,000 members
- Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS-O) (August 2014), 300,000+ students
- Canadian Federation of Students / Fédération canadienne des étudiantes et étudiants (CFS-CFEE) (November 2018), 500,000+ students
- Individual Student Unions [Note: Some votes listed below may amount to full BDS motions, while others are more targeted divestment / boycott policies]:
- University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) (February 2012), 14,000 students
- Carleton University Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) (March 2012), 3,600+ graduate students
- York University Graduate Students’ Association (YUGSA) (November 2012), 6,000+ graduate students
- University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) (December 2012), 15,000+ graduate students
- Concordia University Graduate Students Association (GSA) (January 2013), 7,000+ graduate students
- University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) (February 2013), 12,500+ undergraduate students
- Trent University Central Students Association (TCSA) (February 2013), 6,000 undergraduate and consecutive education students
- York Federation of Students (YFS) (March 2013), 53,000+ undergraduate students
- University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) (April 2013), 11,000 undergraduate students
- University of Windsor Students’ Alliance’s (UWSA) (February 2014), 14,000 undergraduate students
- Ryerson University Students’ Union (RSU) (April 2014), 28,000+ undergraduate and graduate students
- Concordia University Student Union (CSU) (December 2014), 35,000+ undergraduate students
- McMaster University Students Union (MSU) (March 2015), 20,000 undergraduate students
- York University Faculty of Environmental Studies academic boycott (November 2017), 53,000+ students
- King’s University College University of Western (March 2017), 3,500+ full time and part time students
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Durham College (March 2016)
- Dalhousie Student Union (April 2016), 18,500+ students
Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) (June 2021), 25,000+ undergraduate students
- SFSS council unanimously passes motion in support of Palestine, including a pledge "to initiate, support, and amplify campaigns in solidarity with Palestinian calls to join the BDS movement against Israeli apartheid."
- University of Toronto Students' Union (UTSU) (February 2022), 38,000+ students
- UTSU passes motion at special general meeting to "wholly divest funds & further on forbid investment to firms complicit in the occupation of Palestinian Territory."
- Concordia Student Union (CSU) (March 2022), 35,000+ undergraduate students
- Referendum passes (86%) to "adopt a position against the practice of apartheid ... and to divest from any investments and withdraw any financial or vocal support from states or businesses that are involved in apartheid"
Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)* (March 2022), 24,000+ undergraduate students
- Referendum passes (71.1%) to adopt a "Palestine Solidarity Policy," which among other measures, would commit the SSMU to "boycott corporations and institutions complicit in settler-colonial apartheid against Palestinians." However, following threats by McGill to terminate its agreement with the SSMU, the student union declined to ratify and adopt the policy.
- Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia Vancouver (AMS) (March 2022), 58,000+ students
- AMS passed a motion to to push UBC to divest from businesses complicit in illegal Israeli settlements and other violations of Palestinian human rights.
Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) (April 2022), 25,000+ undergraduate students
- SFSS council unanimously adopts a Palestinian liberation policy, which commits the union to supporting boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel, among other actions, in support of the liberation and self-determination of the Palestinian people.
- Québec solidaire (November 2009)
- Communist Party of Canada (July 2014)
(Partial or unofficial support for BDS: Green Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party. See below).
- Mennonite Church of Canada (July 2016)
- United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine/Israel (June 2021)
(Partial or unofficial support for BDS: United Church of Canada and the Canadian Friends Service Committee [Quakers]. See below).
- Idle No More (2021)
- Black Lives Matter
- Ligue des Droits et Libertés / Quebec Civil Liberties Union (2010)
- Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ) / Quebec Federation of Women (May 2010)
- Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)
- Canadian Friends of Sabeel
- Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) / Voix juives indépendantes (VJI) Canada
- International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Canada
- Artistes pour la Paix (APLP) / Artists for Peace
- Alternatives (Canada) / Alternatives International
- Faculty for Palestine (F4P)
- Centre justice et foi / Revue Relations
- Just Peace Advocates
- Public Interest Research Group (PIRGs)
- Alberta Public Interest Research Group
- Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group
- OPIRG – Carleton
- OPIRG – Guelph
- OPIRG – Peterborough
- OPIRG – Toronto
- OPIRG – Ottawa
- OPIRG – Waterloo
- OPIRG – Windsor
- Groupe de recherche d’intérêt public de l’UQAM (GRIP UQAM)
- Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia (QPIRG Concordia)
- Quebec Public Interest Research Group at McGill (QPIRG McGill)
- Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR)
- Concordia University
- McGill University
- University of Ottawa
- University of Western Ontario
- Queen’s University
- McMaster University
- University of British Columbia
- University of Calgary
- Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Ryerson University
- Students for Palestinian Rights (SFPR), Waterloo University
- Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA)
- Carleton University
- University of Toronto
- University of Toronto at Mississauga
- York University
- Palestinian Solidarity Group (PSG), University of Windsor
- General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), OttawaUniversity
- Coalition pour la Justice en Palestine-UQAM
- Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (BIAC) – Vancouver
- Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (WCAIA)
- Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) – Toronto
- Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) – Victoria
- Victoria Friends of Cuba (VFoC)
- Justice for Palestinians – Calgary
- Coalition BDS - Québec
- Canada-Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet)
- Palestinian and Jewish Unity / Palestiniens et Juifs Unis (PAJU)
- Canada Palestine Association
- Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace (CAJJP)
- Canada-Palestine Support Network (CanPalNet)
- Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (WCAIA)
- Global Compliance Research Project (GCRP)
- Nelson End the Occupation Now (NEON)
- National Campus and Community Radio Association of Canada (NCRA)
- Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (MIJPME)
- Socialist Action / Ligue pour l'Action Socialiste (SA/LAS)
- Youth for Socialist Action / Jeunesse pour l'Action Socialiste (YSA/JAS)
- Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA)
- Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
- AQOCI (Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale)
- Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU)
- Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU)
- Entraide missionnaire
- Comité de solidarité Trois-Rivières
- Réseau uni pour la justice et la paix en Palestine et en Israël
- Forum musulman canadien
- Présence musulmane
- Perspectives palestiniennes
- Regroupement des Algériens et Algériennes du Québec
- Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation (BCFF)
- Greater Toronto for BDS
The following organizations have not endorsed the precise terms of BDS per se, but nonetheless advocate some form of economic action to pressure Israel to respect international law and the human rights of Palestinians.
- United Church of Canada, 2012, 2015
In August 2012, the United Church adopted a policy at its 41st General Council urging the boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements. In 2015, a policy was adopted by the 42nd General Council in support of divestment from companies that are involved in the Israeli occupation.
- Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), 2014
In 2014, the CFSC added an addendum to their 2009 policy on Israel and Palestine which: 1) encouraged the promotion of BDS among members, 2) asked the Federal government to properly label products from the “settlements,” and 3) encouraged members, individually and corporately, to boycott products from Israel’s “settlements.”
- Green Party of Canada, 2016
In August 2016, the membership of the Green Party overwhelmingly adopted a resolution which endorsed BDS. However, the party leadership sought to overturn this decision and distance themselves from BDS. A few months later, the party repealed the earlier resolution and replaced it with a 'compromise' policy which, nonetheless, effectively endorsed the goals and tactics of the BDS movement; for example, the motion endorsed economic measures including boycotts and divestment, and called for a ban on settlement goods, among other measures.
- New Democratic Party, 2021
In April 2021, the NDP adopted a policy in support of ending trade with illegal Israeli settlements and imposing an arms embargo on Israel.
- Canadian Labour Congress, 2021
In June 2021 the Canadian Labour Congress, representing more than 3 million workers in Canada, adopted a policy in support of a ban on settlement goods, promoting divestment from Israeli military and security companies, and calling on Canada halt arms sales to Israel, among other measures.
- Ontario Federation of Labour, 2022
In June 2022 the Ontario Federation of Labour published a statement on international solidarity, which notes that it passed resolutions in support of a ban on settlement goods, divestment from Israeli military companies, and calling on Canada to halt arms sales to Israel, among other measures.
CJPME Factsheet No. 215, published December, 2019: This factsheet outlines the reasons why Céline Dion should cancel her 2020 concerts in Israel. This factsheet discusses Céline Dion's ties to the Middle East and history of support for humanitarian causes, arguing that she should boycott Israel until it respects Palestinian human rights.Read more
June 21, 2018 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) opposes the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival’s “Focus Israel” series sponsored by the Israeli embassy in conjunction with the Canada-Israel Cultural Foundation. The “Focus Israel” series is set to begin tonight and will run until Sunday, June 24th. CJPME calls on the festival organizers to reconsider collaboration with the state of Israel – a state whose policies are regularly called out for human rights abuses by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.Read more
Montreal, September 6, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) congratulates UNIFOR, Canada’s largest private-sector union, for the passage of a BDS motion at its recent convention. Resolution no. 5, entitled, “Palestinian Self-Determination and the Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” was put forth by the Oshawa-based Local 222 and was “easily” adopted at the Unifor Canadian Council, held in Winnipeg from August 18-20th.Read more
Montreal, March 17, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) congratulates the students at King’s University College (KUC) in London, ON for their successful vote to boycott and divest from companies involved in the oppressive Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. While the vote passed with a 75 percent majority, the meeting failed to reach quorum, and the follow-up action on the vote is unclear. At the meeting, 355 students voted yes to the question, “Do you as a King’s student support calling upon the KUCSC to lobby King’s administration to boycott and divest from any and all companies and products complicit with Israeli occupation based on principles of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption and change the responsible investment policies to reflect these lobbying efforts?”Read more
Montreal, February 14, 2017 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) congratulates Green Party (GPC) leaders and members for the overwhelming ratification of a party resolution which calls for economic pressure and potentially sanctions on Israel for its failure to respect the human rights of Palestinians. The resolution was ratified with over 90 percent support. Although the resolution was passed at a GPC party convention in early December, a newly instituted on-line ratification process gave all party members the opportunity to vote on the resolution.Read more
CJPME Political Blog, December 21, 2016: The Green Party convention this past weekend offered a win for everyone. Sort of. The convention was held to clarify the Greens’ position vis-à-vis economic pressure on Israel for its human rights abuses. Green leader Elizabeth May was so opposed to an August resolution condemning Israel’s human rights abuses that she had threatened to resign. Influential party activists sought to preserve their August win while maintaining party unity.Read more
Montreal, Dec. 5, 2016 — Over the weekend, at a federal Green Party Special General Meeting (SGM), Green members voted 84% in favour of economic sanctions on Israel because of its violations of Palestinian human rights. “This is a landmark decision in Canadian politics,” declared Thomas Woodley, President of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. “This vote reflects Canadians’ anger about the West’s failure to bring peace in Israel-Palestine, and a desire to see an end to Israel’s human rights abuses.” While the new resolution does not specifically cite the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), its precepts align perfectly with those of BDS, including calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.Read more
Montreal, December 1, 2016 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) denounces the passage of an Ontario motion condemning BDS. The BDS movement – standing for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – seeks to non-violently pressure the Israeli government to fulfill its human rights obligations under international law. “This motion will surely put a chill on free speech in Ontario vis-à-vis Israel’s human rights abuses,” asserted Thomas Woodley, President of CJPME. “It is a sad day when Ontario seeks to censure individuals for their political views.”Read more