Amnesty distances itself from Essex students who opposed Jewish society creation

Amnesty distances itself from Essex students who opposed Jewish society creation

Human rights charity student body which advised its members to vote against the approval of a new Jsoc

Amnesty International UK
Amnesty International UK

Human rights group Amnesty International has distanced itself from a member of the Amnesty student society at Essex University after they advised members to vote against the approval of a new Jewish society.

In a no-nonsense statement on Friday morning, a senior spokesman from the charity’s head office made clear that it did not agree with the student’s argument that the new Jewish society could not be “politically neutral” because it plans to celebrate the founding of the State of Israel.

The student’s advice to members, which had earlier been shared online by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), said it was “very problematic and upsetting” that the new Jewish society planned to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut “which has nothing to do with Judaism”.

They added that this was “a day when 700,000 Palestinians were illegally expelled from their homes and ethnically cleansed from historic Palestine… Amnesty Essex is against this.”

The student further argued that until the proposed new Jewish society was “politically neutral like every other religious society we will take a stance on this… Judaism should not be conflated with Israel”.

In an angry response, UJS said “Judaism is a religion, culture, civilisation, and yes, a nation,” adding: “It is antisemitic to deny the Jewish people national self-determination. Educational activity on Israel and Zionism is not taking a political stance.”

On Friday, Amnesty sought to clarify that the student’s remarks “do not reflect the view of the Essex University Amnesty Society and Amnesty International UK,” saying: “Whilst well-intentioned, their view to conflate Israel Independence Day with the human rights committed by the Israeli authorities is wrong.”

Kerry Moscogiuri, Amnesty’s director of support campaign and communications, said: “There can be little doubt that the Israeli authorities have committed human rights abuses. Palestinians have suffered hugely and view the Day in an entirely negative way.

“However, for many members of the Jewish community, the existence of a Jewish state is part of their Jewish identity and Israel Independence Day has a long tradition of being celebrated within the community. Marking this date is not a statement of support for any specific government and its actions, or political opinion within Israel.

“Essex University has not had a Jewish Society for a number of years and there is definitely a need for one to be set up – a view that is championed by the Amnesty group there.”

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