The new president of the National Union of Students has vowed to rebuild relations between the union and Jewish students after their sudden deterioration under her anti-Israel predecessor.
Shakira Martin, 29, beat pro-Palestinian student Malia Bouattia in April, and last week told Jewish students that there was “a real opportunity to show our commitment to [fight] antisemitism”.
Alluding to Bouattia’s anti-Zionist politics, which upset some Jewish students, Martin said: “Making all students feel welcome in our institutions is a priority for me as President and I hope my contributions will show that NUS is serious about combatting hate and prejudice in all its forms.”
Martin, who has met the Union of Jewish Students twice since her election, acknowledged “a challenging past on these issues, with years of toxic debate and a lack of consistency and commitment,” but said: “I can shape how we do politics.”
As regards Jewish students, she told the meeting held in parliament: “I have engaged with the community and listened, learned and led… I am at the very start of a five-year change programme.”
The NUS, which has millions of members, is working with the Holocaust Education Trust on the ‘Our Living Memory’ campaign, inviting survivor Mala Tribich to speak at a NUS Zones Conference for the first time in the union’s history.