Thursday, July 17, 2008

University Boycott of "Zionist Coffee"

Heather Kere, outgoing Vice President for Education, at the Ryerson Student Union.
Vice President Kere has campaigned for the boycott of Apartheid Israel on campus.


"boycott 'Zionist' coffee"

By Erika Beauchesne | Published 04/2/2008 | Print , Ryersonian , News , Campus news |

(Ryerson University student newspaper)

On the Web at:

Kaydi Pyette/Ryersonian Staff
Oakham House recently started serving Starbucks coffee. RSU vice-president of education Heather Kere wants to ban the franchise for allegedly raising money for the Israeli Defence Forces.
Outgoing RSU vice-president of education Heather Kere is spearheading a politically charged and controversial motion to remove Starbucks from Ryerson’s campus to protest the company’s alleged endorsement of Israel.

“The CEO and chairman of Starbucks (Howard Schultz) is a financial supporter of the state of Israel, an oppressive state that violates many UN resolutions, and so by supporting Starbucks, we’re supporting the apartheid system in Israel,” said Kere.

According to Kere, they’re not looking to remove Starbucks products from the entire campus – just yet. For now, they’re focusing only on Oakham House, where the RSU has the means to control what is sold.

She added that there’s already a campaign underway to eliminate all Coca-Cola products from Ryerson, which is more of a long-term endeavour.

Kere said it’s important for the board to take an active stance against the company, even if it means taking away a service some students on campus regularly enjoy.

“Our board is pretty progressive. It’s generally not uncommon for us to isolate companies that violate human rights such as Coke or Starbucks,” Kere said.

But Kere’s motion is controversial as she blatantly states that the RSU opposes Zionism, which she sees as a form of racism.

But this isn’t true, as Kere’s position on Zionism isn’t the RSU’s official stance, said president Nora Loreto.

“We don’t have an explicit position on Zionism,” Loreto said, adding that even if members voted for the motion to remove Starbucks from the SCC, it doesn’t mean they’re supporting Kere’s political opinions.

“The preamble of the motion doesn’t matter — what we vote on are the action clauses.

“In my opinion there hasn’t been enough solid evidence linking Starbucks with the killing of Palestianian people. The biggest issue has been getting enough fair-trade coffee, and if it’s the case that Starbucks isn’t fair trade, we’ll be pushing (for it to be removed).”

Anita Bromberg, director of Jewish rights group B’nai Brith’s legal department, said the political assertion behind Kere’s motion is “despicable and inappropriate.

“This is not what one hopes happens on a university campus,” she said.
The situation in the Middle East is a complicated issue and “hopefully, right-thinking people will be striving for peace instead of singling out one side,” she said.

Bromberg said, “We first butted heads with Ms. Kere last year when she was bringing (Malik Zulu) Shabazz onto campus — an American anti-Semite.

Since then, she said, Kere has been “involved with other anti-Israeli propaganda on campus.”

Kere said this is an untrue statement, adding that Shabazz was a guest speaker who was invited by other organizers of a campaign to recognize the contributions of young African-Americans.

"That’s what the RSU endorsed,” she said. “CFS were also sponsoring it and so were other student unions. We did not invite that individual.”

But Kere isn’t shy about voicing her anti-Israel views. Last November, Kere failed in getting the CFS to vote on an academic boycott of Israeli universities and professors. Her motion was removed from the agenda without debate.

This past February, Kere was also the face of Israeli Apartheid Week...


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