By Jack Mendel
The President of the UJS (Union of Jewish Students) has expressed ‘disgust’ towards the NUS (National Union of Students) National Executive Committee.
Ella Rose accused the NUS NEC of withholding Jewish students the right to self identify the prejudice they suffer, and condemned their accusation that fabricated anti-Semitism was used for political gain by UJS.
In a blistering attack, Ella Rose issued a letter, both in the wake of NUS’s decision to vote to formally ‘boycott companies that support Israel’, and in anticipation of their 32nd meeting on the 16th September 2014.
This letter appeals to NUS’s NEC to think again.
In voting for this policy, major worries were expressed with regards to how it may marginalise and intimidate Jewish students.
Rose outlined her ‘disgust’ at NUS’s flagrant abuse of UJS’s democratic mandate to represent Jewish students, and the manner in which it has contradicted its own policies.
She criticised the implication that UJS were using accusations of anti-Semitism for political gain, and that experiences of anti-Semitism were thus void.
In reference to the NUS BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanction) motion which was recently passed, Rose said that ‘I am the only person elected to speak on behalf of all 8,500 Jewish students… “
“I’m disgusted because a small minority are attempting to speak on behalf all Jewish students’.
The cornerstone of the argument rests upon an apparent contradiction within NUS’s own policy, surrounding self definition of one’s identity, and thus defining what prejudices one feels.
NUS fervently support the concept of self definition, including regarding how one is prejudiced.
Yet, the Israel boycott motion means that Jews on campus are effectively barred from claiming that Israel is a legitimate part of their identity.
She continues to say that ‘BDS can create an atmosphere where anti-Semitism thrives”, referring to the fact that many Jews will consider Israel to be a part of their Jewish identity, despite the NUS onslaught.
Sheffield Jsoc President Noam Yossef also brilliantly outlines the problems associated with this situation.
Yossef stresses that NUS Executive members recently submitted an amendment to a motion condemning anti-Semitism.
The amendment can be found HERE, at section 6.1. It essentially accuses UJS of manipulating a certain incident at Sheffield for political gain, which is a severe implication.
Rose argues is “it is deeply insulting to suggest that UJS would do so.”
She also stresses that “the greater issue is the failure to afford Jewish students the respect any other minority would receive”, outlining the right jewish students should have to self-define their identity, and what is considered prejudice against that.
As a consequence, the amendment to the motion against anti-Semitism, accuses the society of fabricating claims of anti-Semitism, although Yossef states that “this is not the truth and Executive members suggesting so should be ashamed.”
— noam yossef (@NoamYossef) September 15, 2014
Campus wide BDS motions cause problems for Israelis, kosher food and day to day running of Jsoc, and NUS President Toni Pearce also echoed Rose’s concerns, blogging with some powerful words of caution.
Pearce said “I’m calling on the proposers of this amendment to see those dangers, and to withdraw it from the meeting. “If they do not, I will relinquish the chair for this debate to support a motion to remove it.”
Pearce continues to say that “there are many members of the NEC from across the political spectrum who are determined to see this amendment removed from our agenda, and I will be joining them if necessary. ”
— Ella Rose (@ellarachelrose) September 15, 2014
Rose concludes by stressing that “this policy directly contradicts previous NUS policy, falling foul of Equality and Diversity rulings, which give the right of autonomous groups to decide for themselves the prejudice they experience.”
“If a Jewish-Israeli student feels that BDS being imposed in her students’ union makes her feel intimidated and unwelcome, it’s because BDS has made her feel intimidated and unwelcome.”
In addition to criticising NEC’s stance on Israel, Rose also condemned NUS’s suggestion that UJS’s disagreement of the boycott ruling as being ‘politically motivated’, or that examples of anti-Semitism had been fabricated for political gain.
You can read the letter in full HERE.