A poll conducted by the Stanford Review to freshmen, sophomores and juniors confirms that a significant majority of students oppose boycotts, divestment and sanctions targeted at Israel.
288 students voted in the online poll, which was released in the aftermath of allegations that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is yet again planning to hold a vote on BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) from Israel after failing last year. SJP still has yet to respond to a request for comment on the matter.
Given the Senate has already voted on divestment, only to see their resolution vetoed by the administration, sources speculated to the Review that SJP and Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine (SOOP) were planning a campus-wide referendum. If this remains their plan, the Review’s poll suggests they have a substantial slope to climb.
69% of students (199) declared themselves in opposition to BDS, with support fairly uniform across the three classes. 65% of freshmen, 72% of sophomores and 73% of juniors were opposed to boycotts and sanctions on Israel, suggesting that those jaded by past divestment debates were less likely to support the measure than those who have not witnessed campus discussion on the issue previously.
The results will likely place pressure on SJP and SOOP to justify their rationale for bringing divestment back to campus, given the divisiveness it caused in 2015, the accusations of anti-Semitism levied against past ASSU (Associated Students of Stanford University) Senators, the increasing skepticism towards anti-Israel university movements across the Atlantic, and the fact the administration has already rejected divestment once. If anything, these data suggest that students have become more opposed to divestment after a year than they were when SOOP saw its success in the ASSU Senate.
In April 2016, Stanford senate member Gabriel Knight infamously argued it is “not anti-Semitism” to claim Jews control “the media, economy, government and other social institutions,” as well as questioning the reliability of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
After a media outcry and backlash from the ADL itself, Knight stepped down from his post.
Matthew Wigler, a Stanford sophomore who co-sponsored the anti-Semitism bill in the ASSU and organized last month’s rally after Gabriel Knight’s controversial comments, commented that the poll “demonstrates that Stanford students have an understanding of just how problematic and dangerous BDS really is.” He added that it was “reassuring” that BDS supporters constitute “a small minority of very loud students.”
The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, gave a speech at Tel Aviv University on Sunday during which he exploded the open secret that underpins the BDS movement.
Valls said: “This invitation is…the most sincere response to those who talk of nothing but boycott. Behind this boycott we well know what there is: not only an opposition, but also a loathing of the State of Israel, the loathing of a Jewish home, and therefore of Jews as a whole.”
Valls was addressing an audience during a ceremony in which the George Wise Medal was conferred on him. The medal commemorates Tel Aviv University’s founding President and is awarded to long-standing Israel advocates.
The Prime Minister, who is on a three-day visit to Israel, said that it was France’s ‘role and duty’ to never give way before those that want to ‘hinder a democracy;’ that it was the ‘fight of a lifetime’ against anti-Semitism, ‘a battle of civilisation.’
To applause, Valls said, “When one attacks Jews, one of course attacks France and attacks civilisation.”
We are well accustomed to the conflation of issues when it comes to anti-Semitism, particularly the recent upsurge driven by such movements as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and its acolytes like Israeli Apartheid Week. However, in the Central American Republic of Guatemala, they have managed to take conflation to a whole other level.
Thousands of demonstrators in Guatemala used anti-Semitic language in protest against the country’s major power company, Energuate, which they thought was owned by an Israeli group.
“Jews have killed me on the cross. Now Jews from Energuate are killing my people in Guatemala with the light,” read the Spanish-language banners and posters at the protests. “Out with Jewish Energuate from Guatemala. Let’s unite for the nationalization of power electricity.”
IC Power completed the acquisition of Energuate in January for $265 million. Energuate’s two electricity distribution companies provide services for approximately 1.6 million households in Guatemala, representing approximately 60 percent of the country.
About 20,000 people took part in the demonstrations last week, in which placards were waved condemning “the Jewish power company.” This was based on the misconception that IC Power was owned by Israel Corporation – an error, as ICP’s parent company Kenon was spun-off from Israel Corporation in 2015.
The anti-Semitic material also included an image of a crucified Jesus and a New Testament passage about hypocritical “teachers of the law and Pharisees” neglecting justice, mercy and faithfulness.
An article on the website of Redes Cristianas, or Christian Networks, defended the use of an anti-Semitic tone in the protests, “This collective action is one of the last resources of peaceful resistance that people dispossessed and subjugated have to safeguard what little life and dignity remains the country.”
There has been social instability in Guatemala for years, and there are wide economic gaps among its population. The UK Foreign Office’s advice on travel to the country states: “Incidents of political violence, strikes and large demonstrations can occur, often with little or no notice. Although most demonstrations are peaceful, they can turn violent.”
AntiSemitismWatch was one of the first to cover the trigger behind the anti-Semitism storm that has come to engulf the UK Labour Party. It began with the resignation of Alex Chalmers, the former co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC).
In his resignation statement Chalmers highlighted his concerns over issues related the group’s endorsement of the systemically anti-Semitic BDS movement and its acolytes like Israeli Apartheid Week , alleging there were growing anti-Semitic tendencies within the OULC, “The decision of the club to endorse a movement with a history of targetting (sic.) and harassing Jewish students and inviting anti-Semitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation.”
Considering the complete furor that has landed at his table since over anti-Semitism, you would imagine that Corbyn would have wanted to handle Baroness Royall’s report with complete openness and transparency? How else could he hope to try to restore the trust that has been completely eroded away for Jewish supporters of Labour and the Jewish community in general?
Unfortunately, that is not how this Labour leader thinks. Consequently, Labour is now facing a fresh row over anti-Semitism after the party failed to publish the full report. Details may not now emerge until the wider Chakrabarti Inquiry into party racism is completed in late June.
Indeed, it is now apparent that Baroness Royall wanted to publish her full report but was specifically prevented from doing so by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).
Instead, only the executive summary of her report was released. Frustratingly, the summary does not make clear whether the allegations made by Chalmers about the OULC were unfounded or true.
But she recommends that Oxford University Labour Club, and all student Labour clubs, should “examine the culture of their club and take action to ensure that all those who wish to participate in meetings feel that there is a safe space in order to discuss and debate without discrimination”.
The peer made 11 formal recommendations for “immediate and sustained action”, while advising the Chakrabarti Inquiry of a further seven recommendations.
Chief among the 11 is that party expulsion for anti-Semitism should not automatically be for life – because “people may change their views” and those who have demonstrated they have reformed should be allowed to seek readmission.
The peer also urged the party to consider adopting “a definition of anti-Semitic discourse”, rule changes to allow “swifter action” to deal with allegations and a new independent disciplinary panel on Jew-hate.
A further recommendation is a new power that ensures no ‘statute of limitations’ to enable the party to expel anyone for anti-Semitic conduct committed at any time.
Training for officers of all Labour clubs in dealing with anti-Semitism, led by the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Students, is also recommended by Baroness Royall.
A “clear line of reporting” of incidents is suggested, as well as the ability for individual students to report allegations directly to the party’s national Executive Director of Governance.
Moreover, the party’s national complaints unit must also be “properly resourced so that it may deal effectively with complaints of anti-Semitism”, Baroness Royall said.
Labour should also consider adopting the ‘Macpherson Principle’ – drafted by the inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s racist murder – that an ‘anti-Semitic incident’ is any incident ‘perceived’ to be so by ‘the victim or any other person’.
As if to reinforce the lack of openness and transparency, there was an acute difference in the inquiry slant focused upon by the Labour leadership and the subsequent comments by the Baroness herself.
The party chose to concentrate on the headline that the inquiry found no evidence of ‘institutional anti-Semitism’ within the OULC.
In a hint that her own conclusions had been misrepresented by the party, Baroness Royal told the Jewish Labour Movement that she shared its ‘disappointment and frustration’ that her findings of incidents of anti-Semitism were not getting enough attention.
“I am clear that in the OULC there is a cultural problem which means that Jewish students do not always feel welcome. And we have to take action to change this situation.
“Many students reported that should a Jewish student preface a remark “as a Jew …” they are likely to face ridicule and behaviour that would not be acceptable for someone saying “as a woman …” or “as an Afro-Caribbean”. This should not be tolerated. ”
Baroness Royall also made clear in a blog that “there is too often a culture of intolerance where Jews are concerned and there are clear incidents of anti-Semitism”.
Indeed, the peer stressed that any documented evidence of misconduct within the Oxford student body would be passed to party General Secretary Iain McNicol and investigated “in line with normal procedures” for disciplinary action.
Jeremy Newmark, a former spokesman for the Chief Rabbi and chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, claimed the peer had been frustrated by the NEC’s decision.
Newmark said, “There is a problem of denial of anti-Semitism in the party. Failure to publish Royall’s full findings risks contributing to that.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews and Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, similarly added:
“We would like to express our appreciation to Baroness Royall for her efforts. However, we regard them as incomplete and are disappointed with the NEC’s decision to suppress the release of the full inquiry.
“Organisations that do not publish full reports, particularly when they may be critical, tend to lose legitimacy in the eyes of the general public, as was the case when the media were rightly critical when FIFA tried to publish a very sanitised version of the report into the World Cup bidding procedure.”
How is this for a social experiment? Last week, some students at University of Chicago proposed a resolution to the College Council to divest from Chinese weapons manufacturers, in protest of China’s severe human rights abuses and its long-standing occupation of Tibet.
Members of the council were quick to condemn the resolution, and for good reason. The members noted it was political, and disrespectful to Chinese students. Other members noted that Chinese students should be given time to respond to the presenters with a counter-presentation. One representative even suggested that the College Council issue an apology to Chinese students for even considering the resolution. The resolution was tabled indefinitely.
Curiously, when a few weeks earlier the same College Council passed a nearly identical resolution condemning Israel, no one suggested an apology. These same representatives argued why it was their moral imperative to condemn Israel. They were determined to push this through at all costs, and despite requests, they didn’t even offer the other side an opportunity to present.
As one Jewish Chicago student explained, “Over the past few weeks I have been told that Jews “don’t count” as a minority. I have been accused of using anti-Semitism to justify oppression. All I want to know is why my campus doesn’t treat anti-Semitism with the same rigor with which it treats any other forms of bias.”
When Jewish students stood before the council as part of the debate and asked that it recognize the Jewish right to self-determination, a basic right for all people, people in the room laughed. One representative noted that “If we were to affirm the right to Jewish self-determination … it takes away from the intent of the resolution”.
Another Jewish student was chided “You are racist and you are against me and my family’s existence”. It was uncivil, and unproductive, but the council-members did not once that day condemn the personal nature of these attacks, or defend the rights of the opposition to make their case.
At one point, a student questioned the presenters, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), about their organization allegedly holding a moment of silence for Palestinians who were killed while trying to murder Jewish civilians. One of the presenters confirmed the moment, then responded without missing a beat “Palestinians have a right to honour their martyrs”.
If the killing of any other ethnic group had been celebrated, the University would make grief counsellors available. It would send out mass emails of condemnation. They would suspend the organisation responsible, and possibly the students involved in it. The organisation would certainly not have any credibility to present to the student government. Since the victims were Jews though, their celebration of murder went unchallenged. The representatives never even brought the issue up.
On the third slide of the presentation in favour of the resolution, presenters claimed that voting against the resolution would mean “maintaining a system of domination by Jews”.
Moments like these make it clear that the BDS movement and its acolytes like Israel Apartheid Week together with their supporters are not about human rights. It is about using universities as a forum for tribal hatreds, in this case legitimising the expression of anti-Semitism.
VICE-CHANCELLOR of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael Spence, has asserted that anti-Semitic behaviour is not acceptable on campus, and insisted the university wants to take a strong stand against it.
Speaking exclusively to The Australian Jewish News, following a series of incidents in recent years that have left Jewish students feeling uneasy, Spence said university should be a place where “everybody is safe and free to discuss ideas”, and where students have confidence people will “engage in debate about their ideas, but not in behaviour that’s denigrating of them personally”.
“We have repeatedly expressed the fact that anti-Semitic behaviour is not acceptable on campus,” he said.
“One is always going to have people who engage in hateful behaviour of one kind or another. What I want to do is empower the great body of students and staff to know how to deal with and fight against that.”
The university is investing significantly in the creation of a national centre for cultural competence and increasing the cultural competence of its staff and students. Cultural competence programs for staff have already started, and Spence said the feedback from that is “extremely positive”.
On the topic of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, Spence reiterated that “BDS is not university policy”.
“We think that we should have academic relations with universities wherever good academic work is being done,” he said. “Exceptional academic work is being done in Israel and we have relationships across the board, most recently in nanotechnology and agriculture with universities in Israel, so that’s not an issue.
“We have strong academic relations with Israel, a great tradition of relationships with the Jewish community, a flourishing program in Hebrew and Jewish studies that remains internationally renowned and is very important to us.”
Noting that some staff support the BDS movement, particularly Associate Professor Jake Lynch, and choose not to collaborate with academics from Israeli universities, Spence said, “That is a position that Jake takes in relation to the foreign policy of the State of Israel.
“Academic freedom means that there’s nothing I can do to stop him taking that position, nor would I think it appropriate for me to do that, because the university is not somewhere that promotes ideas or has positions. We are a forum for debate, we are not a participant in debate.”
He said the university cannot censure staff or students for holding an opinion or expressing an opinion.
“What we can do is censure them for behaviour that moves beyond the holding or expressing of an opinion, and moves into racial vilification or hate speech.”
He added: “I’m not defending the work of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. I’m not endorsing the academic positions of Jake Lynch. I need to make sure that Jake Lynch does not engage in behaviour that involves racial vilification, hate speech, anti-Semitism.
“But I also can’t censure an academic for holding a view or advocating a view, because that’s what academics do.”
Urging students to come forward if they “have evidence of behaviour they regard as anti-Semitic”, he added, “We take the concerns of students that they are being treated unfairly by either staff or other students incredibly seriously.
“We want to stamp out this behaviour, which we think is endemic in Western culture. We want to take a strong stand against it.”
A Scottish Labour councillor has been suspended from the party after a series of “anti-Semitic” rants on his blog – including one in which he describes Israel as “a war criminal state”.
Councillor Terry Kelly – who represents Paisley North West on Renfrewshire Council – has been removed from the party pending an investigation.
The move comes following a series of blog posts where he rails against Zionism and backs Ken Livingstone, who was suspended from the party last week.
The 67-year-old, who served as former Scottish Labour leader and retired MSP Wendy Alexander’s election agent on three occasions, also said the criticism of Livingstone is part of a bid to have Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ousted from his role.
Councillor Kelly has also lost his place as convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Planning and Property Policy Board following his suspension from the Labour Party.
A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “The situation regarding Councillor Kelly is that he is not suspended as a councillor but, as he has been suspended by his party, he cannot serve on council boards or committees where he attended as a party representative.”
In a blog post on Saturday, April 30, Councillor Kelly wrote a blog post – titled, ‘Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone are anti Semites according to the Blairite rump of the Labour Party! Beam me up Scotty’.
He wrote: “The accusations of anti-Semitism are based on something he said about Hitler and German Zionists who conspired to relocate German Jews to Palestine this was before he started the wholesale murder of the German Jewish population.
“To accept their charge of anti-Semitism you have to also accept that opposition to Zionism and Israel means you are anti-Semitic.
“No one who is attacking Livingstone can tell us what Livingstone said that was anti-Semitic, he was referring to a ‘bona fide’ historical fact which was that Hitler and the German Zionists were in accord.”
And the councillor – who represents Paisley’s Ferguslie Park area, one of the most deprived areas in Britain – said he believed it was part of a campaign to see Corbyn removed from power.
He explained: “This is the lengths that the underhand Blairites in the Labour Party will go to in their attempts to get rid of Corbyn and they do not care how much damage to the party they do to achieve that.
“With Corbyn’s landslide support as leader I foresee a lot of deselections coming, they will be democratic deselections and I will be giving them my total support, these people are treacherous self servers who think they own the Labour Party, it’s high time they learned different.”
And in a blog post from Thursday, March 31, called ‘Is it possible still, for anyone to defend Israel?’ he called for a boycott of the country and compared events there to the Vietnam War.
He also called on readers to boycott Israel as part of the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement.
He explained: “Not many have investments so they can’t disinvest and sanctions are done by governments but everyone can boycott!
“The Israeli Government are twisting the arms of many countries to get them to ban BDS but the truth is that no one can stop you from boycotting Israeli goods and refusing to have any contact with them, it worked with apartheid South Africa and the State of Israel is feeling the heat so ‘pile it on’.”
Rivals on Renfrewshire Council said Councillor Kelly’s conduct was proof that Labour are not fit to govern.
A spokesperson from the Renfrewshire Council SNP group said: “SNP Leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has made clear that we have a zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism or racism of any kind.
“Councillor Kelly has made clear many times on social media his support for the view of the Iranian leadership that Israel has no right to exist, this denies the voice of the Israeli peace movement and progressive voices that want a change of policy on the Palestinian question.
“Councillor Kelly was a Militant supporter in the 1980’s, and comes from the same hard left stable as Jeremy Corbyn. “Labour is simply unelectable these days, and this is proof.”
A spokesperson for Scottish Labour said: “Terry Kelly has been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation.”
In the simplest terms, the political left-wing forms the ‘natural home’ of the ideology that views with hatred everything associated with and related to Israel. In essence, it is anti-Zionist sentiment that is driving the current wave, insurgency if you will, of anti-Semitism.
These views that have come so much to the fore within Labour were sparked by left-winger Corbyn’s party leadership victory, which brought with it an influx of new members with these ‘out-dated and prejudiced’ views.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is the living embodiment of this problem. There is now overwhelming evidence that BDS is home to vile anti-Semitic rhetoric, debate and policy. BDS, and its acolytes such as Israeli Apartheid Week, drives this, in part, through its lack of respect for the dignity of the individual and for the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions.
The article prophetically concluded that BDS movement is systemically anti-Semitic and that the political left was in danger of becoming similarly so, and so was the Labour Party!
The first point has, indeed, seen some action follow with various party members, officials and MPs, including Livingstone and Naz Shah, suspended. However, it is this very same evidence that leads AntiSemitismWatch to conclude that this response is doomed to failure.
With each new accusation there have been issues of indecision, prevarication or lack of leadership shown.
Gerry Downing, accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ and being ‘obsessed with Jews’, kicked out, readmitted on appeal and then kicked out again.
Vicki Kirby, probed by the party in 2014 after a series of posts on Twitter in which she apparently suggested Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist God” and Jews had “big noses”, subsequently reinstated with a warning, appointed vice-chairman of Labour’s Woking branch, and then suspended again.
Naz Shah, who following the Facebook revelations was not suspended for 32 hours until Corbyn succumbed to the pressure exerted by the media, the Prime Minister, Jewish commentators and some within his own party.
Even the suspension of Ken Livingstone was weakly handled by Corbyn. Virtually all party communication on the subject was dealt with by Labour ‘spokespeople’. We also had the spectacle of John Mann being seen be many as the hero of the hour in his facing down and castigation of Livingstone. While not perhaps expecting precisely the same from the leader of the official government opposition something of the spirit displayed by Mann has been entirely lacking in Corbyn.
There are other Labour members in addition to John Mann worthy of mention for their mettle shown in fighting anti-Semitism in the party, including Wes Streeting and Luciana Berger who has herself been subjected to vicious anti-Semitic abuse.
Yet, these example are not set to be the sum total of what Labour will have to contend with. It is inevitable that the injurious damage will continue through further revelations. As such, they will persist in making mockery of the claim of a party with zero tolerance against anti-Semitism.
That brings us to the announcement of an independent inquiry to be led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of the rights group Liberty, who will be tasked with opening a dialogue with the Jewish community and will report back to Labour headquarters within two months on how the party can best tackle antisemitism and other forms of discrimination.
It is entirely inconceivable that this inquiry will deliver the necessary radical and truthful thinking and proposed action to deliver the step-change necessary for the Labour Party to emerge from this crisis with a realistic prospect of regaining its credibility.
Instead, it will likely focus on tightening party processes for dealing with potential transgressors of Labour rules on racism and anti-Semitism etc. It will also undoubtedly conclude that there exists a real desire within the party leadership to tackle the issues but, AntiSemitismWatch predicts, it will entirely fail to offer up the necessary action plan to tackle the causes.
So AntiSemitismWatch offers up to Corbyn, Labour and Chakrabarti our own radical five point plan:
As with any plan for recovery, first admit there is a problem. Labour’s Chuka Umunna has alluded to it, but still shied away from admitting the full extent, when he said: “I think there is a problem with anti-Semitism on the fringes of the left, there is no doubt about that; it would be completely disingenuous to deny that.”
The message must come from Corbyn himself. No longer is it viable or acceptable for him to stand behind others speaking on his behalf.
The admission must acknowledge that, like all parts of the political spectrum, Labour will contain individuals who hold plain, old-fashioned anti-Semitic attitudes. Labour is not immune to this just because of their long association with human rights but neither is it unique to them.
The more radical aspect to the admission is to accept that while criticism of any foreign state, including Israel, is legitimate, the rhetoric on this one lone country has, all too often, been used as a disguise for attacking the Jewish people more widely.
The issue of anti-Zionism would also need to be addressed as part of the admission, acknowledging that the right of self-determination is an unalienable right. That anything that calls for the destruction, removal, transportation or dismantlement of a democratic state and its people is in itself anti-Semitic. This provides for Corbyn and Labour to reassert a commitment to achieving a peaceful two-state solution.
Only such explicit clarity offered by our five point plan will take Labour towards a path out of the mire. It provides the only clarity necessary for Labour to then be able to hold true on its zero tolerance pledge.
Danny Cohen, the former head of the BBC, recently suggested of Labour, ‘If you are Jewish how can you vote for them?“. The relationship between Corbyn’s party and the Jewish community hangs by a thread. There remains limited time and opportunity for repair, our five point plan is an offer that should not be rejected.
If ever proof were needed of just how meaningless the BDS movement is, Leicester City Council’s controversial decision to boycott goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank has had “no impact” on the things it has bought, officials have revealed.
Yet the council has already had to pay out £7,355 plus VAT on legal counsel connected to the boycott – and could face paying £200,000 costs if it loses a judicial review case on the ban at the High Court next month.
The Labour-led authority approved the motion in 2014 to “show solidarity” with the Palestinian people.
However, critics described the move as anti-Semitic – a charge denied by the council – and gesture politics to appeal to Muslim voters ahead of last year’s election.
Tory city councillor Ross Grant said: “It’s disgraceful. This just shows the Labour group are guilty of dog whistle politics of the worst kind. This motion has had no effect at all and was just to win votes from a certain section of the community.
“Now £200,000 of taxpayers’ money has been put at risk because of the actions of a bunch of people who are always telling us how little cash they have.
“The city mayor ought to show some leadership and rescind this motion to protect public money.
“At the last council meeting I asked the lord mayor to allow a motion to vote on rescinding this. We could have already had a vote but he would not allow it.”
The issue is set to be settled in the High Court after an application by campaign group Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) for a judicial review of the boycott.
Council barrister Kamal Adatia has warned councillors losing the case could cost the authority £200,000.
A Freedom of Information request has revealed the legal costs associated with the motion. The response said the council had paid £7,355 plus VAT on counsel but that the cost of in-house legal work had not been calculated.
The request also asked if the policy had led to a change in any supplier of goods to the council.
The response said: “The council’s procurement activity has not been impacted by the motion.”
The election today of the controversial Malia Bouattia as the new president of the National Union of Students (NUS) effectively means that Jewish student societies (JSocs) up and down the country have only two options moving forward:
Remain as part of the NUS and try to work from within to reform
Leave and start afresh either alone or as part of new coalition of more inclusive student groups.
However, one of the NUS debates at their national annual today perhaps best contextualizes the type of organisation the NUS has become when considering the first option.
Widespread outrage was caused after students applauded motions for the NUS not to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, because doing so isn’t ‘inclusive’.
Darta Kaleja, from Chester University, shocked many by speaking against the amendment.
She told the conference, “I am against the NUS ignoring and forgetting other mass genocides and prioritising others.
“It suggests some lives are more important than others.
“When during my education was I taught about the genocides in Tibet or Rwanda?
“It is important to commemorate all of them.”
Another student spoke against the motion saying, “Of course there shouldn’t be anti-Semitism but it’s not about one set of people.”
Additionally, in February 2016, the NUS National Executive Council showed its true colours by removing the right for Jewish students to have guaranteed representation in the Anti-Racism, Anti-Fascism (ARAF) campaign. The decision left Jewish students as the only group without representation on any of the NUS liberation campaigns.
This is the same National Union of Students that while refusing in June 2015 to condemn the brutal Islamic State terrorists citing claims of ‘Islamophobia’ and that it would represent a “justification for war”, added its name to the systemically anti-Semitic Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – demanding sanctions against the State of Israel.
This was despite being warned time and again by Jewish students that the BDS movement can and has provoked anti-Semitism on campuses. The motion to boycott also effectively told Israeli students that they were not welcome on campus, simply because of their nationality, creating a poisonous and divisive atmosphere.
So the only viable option left available to Jewish students is to go it alone. Indeed, there is already established precedence for it with four universities in Scotland opting not affiliate with the NHS, including St Andrews, Dundee and Glasgow.
Interestingly, there are clear signs that others may be willing to follow. A campaign calling for Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU) to disaffiliate from the NUS launched today after Bouattia’s election.
The campaign intends to present a motion to CUSU Council calling for a referendum on whether or not CUSU should remain affiliated to the NUS and says that disaffiliation will be debated at the Cambridge Union tomorrow evening. There is also an indication that Oxford University’s student body is considering a similar move.
In a statement, the leader of the Cambridge campaign, Jack May, said: “The election of Malia as NUS President is a horrifying message to Jewish students in the UK. Attention has been repeatedly drawn to her anti-Semitic comments. Unfortunately, Malia’s election is just the latest event in a tide of anti-Semitism sweeping UK universities.”
“Cambridge students should be given a chance to decide whether or not to remain part of the increasingly toxic culture and management of the NUS. Our students’ union should represent what we want, and not act as a mouthpiece for the extreme views of anti-Semitic individuals.”
Another supporter of the campaign for disaffiliation, Adam Crafton, who is Jewish, said: “This is a deeply disappointing day for Jewish students at Cambridge… The failure of the national body means that the responsibility now falls upon our own Cambridge representatives.
“We call upon CUSU Council to recognise this shift in the political landscape and sense the need to offer students the freedom to choose who should represent their interests. As such, we implore CUSU Council to pass this motion, engage in a democratic process and ensure the freedom and security of Jewish students.”
Further afield, there has also been a petition launched on the Parliament petition website with the motion: “Remove Malia Bouattia as NUS President.” It is currently awaiting moderation, having received initial support.