In Britain this week, the National Union of Students (NUS) added its name to the Anti-Semitic Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – demanding sanctions against the State of Israel.
The previous motion had suggested the NUS “condemn the IS and support the Kurdish forces fighting against it”.
Daniel Cooper, who tabled the original motion, hit out at the rebels who blocked it and explained “There is a stranglehold of “identity politics” on the student movement.”
That identity politics has played out against Jewish students despite time and again the NUS being warned it can and has provoked anti-Semitism on campuses.
A motion to boycott Israel also effectively tells Israeli students that they are not welcome on campus, simply because of their nationality. It creates a poisonous and divisive atmosphere.
Indeed, one Union of Jewish Students (UJS) spokesperson present at the vote said: “For all the insistence from campaigners who argue BDS doesn’t target individuals, time and time again this is proven not to be the case;
“Even today at the vote, Jewish students reported to UJS that they felt intimidated and bullied by the antagonistic atmosphere.”
Perhaps the NUS have forgotten the storm BDS caused at King’s College London – in which certain elected student union representatives brought Jewish students to tears. In the words written by one affected Jewish student;
“No minority should feel alienated on campus. As it stands, since I’m a Jew, I’m not made to feel welcome.”
Perhaps equally disturbing is that 20 members of its executive voted against NUS’ longstanding policy of support for the two-state solution – in effect, they voted to express disapproval with the State of Israel’s very existence.
This disgraceful hypocritical vote forces Jewish students to boycott half of the Jewish world! It is effectively targeting a specific ethnic minority to ‘conform’ to a political agenda. That’s discrimination in a nutshell.
The UJS must be supported by strong community leadership to immediately take steps to submit its disaffiliation papers from the NUS. Most important of all is that this same leadership must get the government to follow the lead of a number of US states which is moving towards the removal of funds from institutions or groups which support the BDS movement.
Finally, while the motion’s supporters no doubt spoke of the undoubted tragedy of the conflict, in taking the action they have chosen they advanced not one single constructive to end it!