La’ad Canada is pleased to share the results of a groundbreaking survey that challenges the core claims and self-professed aims of the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement in what is the most recent and comprehensive study of Canadians’ attitudes to the BDS moment and anti-Semitism in Canada. Conducted by nationally-respected research and strategy firm, Campaign Research, the survey provides valuable insights, and also serves to both challenge and confirm existing notions.

While the BDS movement deliberately portrays itself as a peaceful, nonviolent approach to encouraging coexistence between Israel and Palestinian-Arabs, roughly half of Canadians who support BDS acknowledge that even if Israel were to make the major concessions asked of it by the movement — including giving away its ancestral land, and acknowledging a Palestinian right of return — they would still support additional boycotts.

“The fact that almost half of those who support a boycott of Israel would do so even if Israel complied with all of the BDS movement’s demands certainly sends a loud message about the beliefs and values of its proponents,” said Amanda Hohmann, Executive Director of La’ad Canada. “Proponents of BDS claim that the movement is motivated strictly by a desire to end so-called abuses by Israel. However, the results of this survey appear to show that for almost half of BDS supporters, that is simply not true. This begs the question of what motivates these individuals, because it’s clearly not about coexistence.”

“Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. Our holy sites are there, our ancestors are buried there, and much of the Jewish religion can only be properly practiced in the land of Israel. For half of the supporters of BDS, their issue is with the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state. Make no mistake – this is the very definition of antisemitism – that the Jewish people do not deserve the right to self government.

“Jewish Canadians are already the number one most targeted group for hate crimes according to national data from Statistics Canada. We are therefore calling on government officials and law enforcement agencies across the country to develop strategies based on this new information in order to ensure the safety of our Jewish communities here at home.

“One of the main hotbeds of BDS activity in Canada has been the university campus where student groups often invite controversial speakers to events promoting the movement. This is why La’ad Canada will be partnering with Hasbara Fellowships Canada to further explore the linkage between anti-Israel attitudes and antisemitism,” added Hohmann.

Universities and the Promotion of BDS

“Since 2001 Hasbara Fellowships Canada has been supporting pro-Israel students on university campuses across the country combating misinformation,” said Robert Walker, Executive Director, Hasbara Fellowships Canada. “When La’ad Canada approached us with the results of their survey, it confirmed for us what we have been seeing for many years; that the lines between those who are anti-Israel and those who are Anti Semitic are increasingly being blurred. We are therefore proud to partner with La’ad to develop strategies and materials based on the results of the survey which will allow students to help their peers distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism.”

The national poll, conducted in mid September, surveyed 1485 Canadians from coast to coast. It found that 12% of Canadians were aware of the BDS movement, with 19% supporting it once given the definition. Of the 19% who supported BDS, 45% believe that Israel should be subject to further boycott, divestment and sanctions even if it complies with all the demands of the BDS movement.