The National Union of Students has been accused of showing a “complete lack of commitment” to Jewish students by those representing Jews on campus.
The Union of Jewish Students reacted angrily after a meeting of the NUS National Executive Committee ended the traditional practice of Jewish students deciding the Jewish representative on the Anti-Racism, Anti-Fascism (ARAF) committee.
New NUS president Malia Bouattia, who has antagonised Jewish students for her anti-Zionist views, was again criticised for her role in casting the deciding vote in a tied contest.
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting was among those critical of the NUS decision to widen the range of those who can decide the Jewish representative. He said: “It is upsetting that longstanding conventions around Jewish representation in the leadership of the NUS anti-racism campaign have been abandoned and Jewish students marginalised in this way.”
UJS campaigns director Josh Nagli said the student body’s leadership had “again showed its complete lack of commitment to Jewish students by voting for a motion that means that Jewish students will have no say in who represents them”. He added that the decision was “undemocratic”.
Russell Langer, public affairs manager at the Jewish Leadership Council and former UJS campaigns manager, added that the NUS Black Students’ Campaign had “rejected proper Jewish representation”.
Not everyone agreed that the decision was bad news. Sai Englert, a Jewish PhD student at SOAS, said it was “excellent news… it “guarantees Jewish, Muslim, LGBT, international and migrant representation on NUS ARAF work”.
However Birmingham undergraduate Izzy Lenga tweeted: “I am a Jewish student and I do not feel comfortable with anyone other than Jews electing the Jewish place.” She added: “[It] totally undermines autonomy.”
The decision was being seen as yet another snub by NUS president Malia Bouattia, who has railed against the “Zionist-controlled media”. Nagli said: “It was no surprise that [Bouattia] once again showed that she has absolutely no interest in defending Jewish students’ interests by voting to remove the ability of Jewish students to shape for themselves the student movements’ fight against racism and fascism.”
He added: “Malia is still yet to adequately answer the concerns of Jewish students regarding her past rhetoric, and today provided further proof that Jewish students are right to feel unsafe in the national union that she leads.”