Jewish students got the opportunity to meet and quiz Israeli opposition politician Yair Lapid on Monday.
Mr Lapid, the Yesh Atid chairman was in the UK to speak at the Jewish News UK-Israel Shared Strategic Challenges conference in London, but was able to spend part of his day speaking to students at an event organised by UJS.
He spoke to students about key issues, including combatting boycotts of Israel and fighting anti-Semitism on campus.
Lapid opened up about the BDS movement, which he claimed, although hold elements of well-intentioned activism for issues percieved as a just cause, “we should challenge liberal supporters of BDS on hate filled, anti-Jewish, anti-western, anti-gay ideology within parts of the BDS movement”.
He also outlined his support for two states, but stressed that boycotts “won’t bring Israelis to negotiating table”
Lapid challenged students on the two-state-solution, asking whether “you seek Palestinian State alongside Israel, or instead of Israel? One is pro-peace, one seeks Israel’s eradication”.
Hannah Brady UJS President said the event told Jewish News it “was fantastic for UJS to facilitate dialogue between Lapid and Jewish students.”
The newly elected president heralded students’ ‘insightful contributions’ which “reflected the diversity of Jewish student activists in the UK, as well as the passion and dedication to Jewish life they demonstrate on each of their campuses.”
Daniel Gross of University College London said “It was an honour to meet, hear from and question Yair Lapid, who showed his commitment to fighting BDS and exposing them for what they truly are.
“Yair spoke with presence and you can see he really believes in what he says.’
Esther Endfield, Kings College London reflected upon the event in terms of challenges facing Jewish students. She said: “BDS is a very large, well funded all consuming campaign of those who are anti- Israel…” and those who are ‘apathetic’, who don’t understand the complexity of the situation.
The Co-President of the Israel Society London School of Economics also attended – and said he ‘felt privileged’ to engage with the event, “to voice my concerns and perspective on BDS”.
“Mr Lapid was not only there to present his view but really listen to what we had to say.
“I hope he gained a wider understanding of the complexities of the problems that BDS poses and appreciate that it is not a simple issue and there is no simple answer.”
Earlier in the day, Mr Lapid spoke at the Jewish News policy conference – before facing a capacity audience at JW3, hosted by Jewish News in partnership with the Board, JLC, UJS and JW3.