Jewish Students Urge Split from NUS Over Anti-Semitism Concerns

Malia Bouattia

Jewish Students have urged their union to cut all ties to the National Union of Students (NUS) over the anti-Semitism displayed by its President, Malia Bouattia.

Jewish students, left “angry and frustrated” by Bouattia’s insults towards the Jewish community, have tabled a motion to be debated at the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) annual conference next week calling on the Union to formally cut ties with the NUS, the Huffington Post has reported.

They point to Bouattia’s use of anti-Semitic language, including her referring to Birmingham University earlier this year as “something of a Zionist outpost in British higher education”, a comment the Home Affairs Select Committee said “smacks of outright racism”.

She has also been widely criticised for saying, during a 2014 conference speech on ‘Gaza and the Palestine Revolution’, that “with mainstream Zionist-led media outlets… resistance is resented as an act of terrorism”.

And Jewish students have been forced to question why they, uniquely, are not allowed to define the terms of anti-Semitism, in stark contrast to other minority groups.

UJS President Josh Seitler said: “Like huge numbers of Jewish students I am appalled by Malia’s past rhetoric and ongoing behaviour.

“It is inexcusable that despite plenty of opportunities – most recently when I put the concerns and demands of Jewish students to her directly – Malia has failed to unequivocally apologise and commit to uphold NUS policy on antisemitism underpinned by the EUMC working definition.”

In September Josh Nagli, UJS campaigns director, indicated that the union could cut off all contact with the NUS over concerns about Bouattia, but members of the Union went on to meet with her after she reached out to them via letter.

Following that meeting, the Union said in a statement: “In the last six months we have seen many Jewish students at the forefront of disaffiliation campaigns to leave NUS. The frustration and anger voiced by Jewish students in recent months at Malia’s election is completely justified and we maintain our commitment to not working with the National President until she issues an apology to Jewish students and demonstrates a genuine willingness to listen to their concerns and work towards addressing them.”

A spokesperson for the NUS told the Huffington Post UK: “It would be a disappointment if the discussion of this motion, at the upcoming conference, leads to UJS suspending their working relationship with NUS particularly as we have just launched research into Jewish students’ experiences on campus and have a whole programme of work being undertaken to fight anti-Semitism on which we would hope to work with UJS.

“NUS will always strive to ensure Jewish students’ voices are heard and we hope to continue working with UJS on this vitally important work.”

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