The National Union of Students governing body has again adopted a policy of boycotting Israel, despite concerns from Jewish students.
NUS’s National Executive Committee (NEC) passed Motion 103 titled ’70 Years of Injustice: Freedom for Palestine’ this week, which has been condemned as ‘divisive’ by community leaders.
The motion, which said the NEC will “stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people” and “support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement – also contained an amendment which was passed, to ensure that BDS doesn’t affect Jewish and Israeli students on UK campuses.
The amendment urged that “any BDS activity does not target Israeli citizens, particularly Israeli students studying” in the UK. It added, that BDS “does not target or impact Jewish students’ ability to study on their campus, particularly regarding provision of Kosher food, provision of religious items and by ensuring a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism/ hostile environments where Jewish students feel uncomfortable during campus BDS debates.”
The Union of Jewish Students’ Campaigns Manager Liron Vellemen told Jewish News “we are saddened, yet unsurprised” by the motion, and that the amendment reflected a “sorry state of affairs”.
He labelled BDS “a tired campaign that has little to no impact on the reality of the situation in Israel and Palestine as well as being highly divisive, dampens progressive voices and often leads to victimisation of Jewish and Israeli students.”
“This motion has been passed through the backdoor, with only 30 members voting, rather than up to 1,000 delegates at National Conference, which has never passed BDS policy.”
He criticised the fact that “NUS NEC needed to add an amendment to protect Jewish and Israeli students, including a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism, from a policy that has a history of targeting, victimising and marginalising Jewish and Israeli students.”
Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Amanda Bowman, also condemned the motion, saying: “Once again, a divisive motion by the NUS NEC has singled out Israel, the region’s only liberal democracy, for hostility, ignoring the human rights abuses by other rogue states in the region – this despite strenuous campaigning by the Union of Jewish Students.”
“Some 4,000 Palestinians have been butchered in the Syrian civil war by pro-Assad forces, Iran and Hezbollah, yet this merits not a mention. Indeed, we note that the NUS NEC decided not to debate an emergency motion on the banning of the Hezbollah flag on the streets of London. How hypocritical to be censuring Israel but not an openly anti-Semitic terrorist organisation which has indiscriminately killed Jews in terrorist attacks around the world and joined in the wanton slaughter of Palestinians in Syria.”