Letter to the editor – Apr. 5, 2012

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I write in response to the University of Regina Students’ Union’s decision to support a boycott, divestment and sanction motion against Israel. This passed at the Feb. 1 AGM. Although it remains the prerogative of these students to pass and support this motion, I am troubled by this boycott.

The motion sends a chill to the broader academic community – affecting the sense of welcome at the university and potentially impeding academic work.

A boycott may adversely affect open dialogue and discussion across our university campuses and stymie progress towards peace.

Therefore, we ought to place greater emphasis on building cooperation and understanding. As former U.S. President Bill Clinton observes: “The real differences around the world today are not between Jews and Arabs; Protestants and Catholics; Muslims, Croats, and Serbs.  The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who would destroy it; between those who look to the future and those who cling to the past; between those who open their arms and those who are determined to clench their fists.”

Increased student understanding of and engagement in, this region – as demonstrated by university students across Saskatchewan and Canada – offers an alternative to URSU’s current approach. Study abroad opportunities and collaborative research partnerships throughout the Middle East offer a means to improve understanding and dialogue – both important to the progress we hope to see in the future.

Rob Norris
Minister of Advanced Education

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