York University’s Stop The War (STW) society removed the term ‘genocide’ from an event protesting against Eurovision, but only did so “reluctantly” after the Student Union contacted them.
The president of the student union (YUSU) told Jewish News it reached out to the society over its “highly inappropriate” language used for an event planned later this month.
The STW Society are running an event protesting Israel’s hosting of the Eurovision song contest later this month, called “Eurovision Zero”, but the event initially had ‘Genocide free option’ in the title, before organisers pressed them to change it to ‘Oppression free option’.
The event description says: “Sick of all the Eurovision propaganda? Tired of seeing Israel’s War Crimes covered up by sequins? ..Come spend an evening boycotting Eurovision…. that is 100% oppression, murder and war crime free!”
James Durcan, YUSU President told Jewish News: “Language and imagery is an important part of this and in this particular incident a Union officer reached out to the Stop the War Society because of concern that the language used to promote the event was highly inappropriate and could well leave members of the student community feeling uncomfortable; something that is clearly unacceptable.”
The student STW society said the change of wording was a “reluctant one”, insisting that “ we very much feel that the term we used initially (“genocide”) is commensurate with what has been happening in the Occupied Territories and we stand by the use of the word”.
They added the change was made “as a matter of courtesy” after YUSU contacted them “and made us aware that the wording was inflammatory”.
They said the event is being held to raise awareness of “atrocities” committed by and to encourage people to “boycott their perpetrators”, adding that “genocide was an appropriate descriptor” of Israel’s actions.
After being contacted by the Union, they said “we felt that we ought to change the wording as a gesture of goodwill towards the union as we work closely with them and value our relationship”.
“We do not wish to upset or offend the Jewish or Israeli members of the public nor of the student or staff body who may see the event, we do not want anyone to feel excluded from the event and we would welcome all to attend, however we do wish to show that the actions of the Israeli government in their occupation of Palestine and the treatment of Palestinians is illegal, unjust and does constitute genocide.”
The Union of Jewish Students has been approached for comment.