TEL AVIV – One of three candidates nominated for the presidency of the UK’s Union of Jewish Students is an Israeli-born anti-Zionist activist in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Eran Cohen has been heavily involved in pro-Palestinian events, including serving as the BDS officer for the University of York’s Palestinian Solidarity Society and promoting Palestinian Apartheid Week on his campus, the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.
In a Facebook post, Cohen explained his support for a one-state solution in which Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza would share the entire region with Israelis.
“I support it because I believe it will bring about a secular state for all its citizens from the river to the sea. Some people equate that with the destruction of Israel. I don’t.”
One commenter wrote that “according to the European working definition of antisemitism, questioning the legality of the existence of Israel is antisemitic,” to which Cohen responded: “I’m aware of that definition, and I disagree with that clause.”
In October last year, as a wave of knife and car-ramming attacks against Jews in Israel was at its peak, Cohen wrote on Facebook: “To those worried that a new intifada is beginning now in Israel, let me explain why you should not be worried. None of the violent events in recent days occurred in Israel and none of the victims was a resident of Israel.”
He went on to say that the attacks took place in “occupied East Jerusalem” and “there is no intifada in Israel. The escalation is occurring in the occupied territories and is born of the occupation. We can save the next victims with no problem; we just don’t feel like it. We feel like occupation. We feel like death.”
The UJS’s spokesperson told the Jewish Chronicle that nomination for presidency required the three candidates to secure support from at least 10 students from five British campuses.
“Our students have nominated three very different candidates for the UJS presidency. We are excited about the levels of engagement in our representative cross-communal union this dynamic and contested election should generate,” the UJS said.
“UJS should represent all Jewish students, Zionist or not,” Cohen said, according to a statement the Chronicle received from his campaign team. “We want to be part of this community, part of the discussions it has. We’re fed up of abuse and isolation, so we decided to finally try to get some representation.”
“I am a Diasporist. I believe the focus of Jewish life is wherever Jews live, and excessive focus on Israel damages the UK Jewish community. There are many left-wing Jewish students, both Zionist and not, who support my campaign. Jewish students are diverse, and UJS is supposed to be democratic. It doesn’t stand for anything other than what Jewish students want at any particular time,” Cohen said.