Jewish representatives say an independent report published this week “trivialises anti-Semitism,” after it found that the National Union of Students was not institutionally racist.
The report into culture and practices at the national student body, which was commissioned by the union’s president Malia Bouattia and undertaken by the Runnymede Trust, recommended that the NUS improve its understanding of racism, noting several problem areas.
While broadly welcoming the report, however, the Union of Jewish Students took issue with some perceived omissions, as well as elements of the language used.
UJS Campaigns Director Josh Nagli said: “Jewish students are likely to be disappointed because… there seems to be a lack of any in-depth examination of the challenges facing Jewish students.”
The report’s authors note the “negative” media coverage of Bouattia’s ground-breaking election to president in April, which was “greeted with elation on the [NUS] conference floor” but which was met with headlines of “shock,” “controversy” and “anti-Semitism”.
Nagli objected to the description of headlines mentioning anti-Semitism as “negative,” saying this was “particularly concerning”.
He said: “By comparing the use of the word ‘anti-Semitism’ to words such as ‘shock’ and ‘controversy’ the report trivialises anti-Semitism. This only goes further to delegitimise the real experiences of Jewish students.”
Earlier this year the NUS was criticised by the Home Affairs Select Committee for not taking Jewish students’ concerns “sufficiently seriously,” but the union has since objected to the Committee’s depiction of its stance on anti-Semitism as “unbalanced” and has sought to challenge it.