The AMS should be ashamed of its treatment of Palestinian students

On May 20, the AMS executive hosted their first Assembly. At the meeting, students rallied to express their frustration and disappointment over the AMS’ lack of support for Palestinian students and related advocacy at Queen’s.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have deemed Israel’s violent and discriminatory system of governing Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories an apartheid—an assessment recently supported in a ​​UN Special Rapporteur’s report.

Despite this, Queen’s fosters a despicably unsafe environment for Palestinian students and allies.

During May Assembly, AMS executive RTZ not only heard the experiences and demands of Palestinian students—they made numerous commitments to better serve them.

President Zaid Kasim motioned for a closed AMS session to discuss changing the AMS mandate to allow the Society to take a stance on matters it deems ‘political’—including the violent oppression of Palestinians.

And he didn’t mince words.

“This year will be the year a shift will occur in [the AMS] mandate, and we are going to listen to Palestinian voices, and we no longer want to be reactive,” Kasim said at the meeting.

In fact, Kasim even promised a closed session discussion to explore the possibility of divesting the AMS from Israel—a common act of protest against the ongoing apartheid.

Confronted by student activists, it appeared like the AMS was listening. Then, when they were no longer face-to-face with those they were hurting, the AMS fell silent.

Despite explicit promises that—after protecting the identities of members-at-large—the meeting would be uploaded to the AMS site, the video recording and minutes for May Assembly were never made public. 

Though May Assembly was open to the community—and its agenda is clearly titled “AMS Summer Assembly”—the AMS retroactively labelled May’s meeting as a President’s Caucus on their site, seemingly to justify the lack of public transparency. Only the agenda, which wasn’t followed, is available.

Following May Assembly, the AMS quietly ignored its earlier commitment‒shared on Instagram—to host further Assemblies on Jun. 24, Jul. 22, and Aug. 19. Instead, Kasim opted to hold monthly closed President’s Caucus meetings.

In a statement to The Journal, Kasim called May Assembly “a unique event for the AMS” and failed to acknowledge his team’s previous commitment to monthly summer Assembly meetings. Kasim alleged the AMS’ plan was always to hold closed Caucuses. However, the Instagram post stated “[a]ny students are welcome” at the original summer Assemblies—clearly, they weren’t intended to be private meetings.

After The Journal reported on the discrepancy between Kasim’s statement and the AMS’ original summer Assembly schedule, the organization deleted the post.

The AMS went into hiding.

Since May, the AMS has taken no public action toward supporting Palestinians despite their promises of transparency—proving themselves as ineffective, disingenuous leaders who’ve lied to oppressed students to avoid taking on difficult work themselves.

None of what the AMS proposed in May was groundbreaking. Several Canadian university student unions have divested from Israel, including McGill, UofT, and UBC.

And yet, the Society couldn’t scrounge up the courage to follow the lead of Palestinians who gave their time and labour to educate them.

In remaining silent and complicit, AMS leaders not only disrespected Palestinian students—they actively chose to participate in the anti-Palestinian violence rampant at Queen’s.

Shelby is a fourth-year English student and one of The Journal’s Editors in Chief.

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