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Written by Student Rights on 5 August 2014 at 6am

NUS BDS motion puts politics ahead of welfare

On 4th August the National Union of Students (NUS) National Executive Committee (NEC) voted in favour of a motion supporting the BDS movement.

The motion demands that the NUS must not:

“...as far as is practical, employ or work with companies identified as facilitating Israel's military capacity, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity, and [should]actively work to cut ties with those that do”.

The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) condemned the motion as a “failure of NUS to maintain its duty of care to the variety of student groups it must endeavour to represent”.

It also expressed concern that “Jewish students reported to UJS that they felt intimidated and bullied by the antagonistic atmosphere” during the vote and stated that the motion “will only divide student groups, undermine interfaith relations, and suffocate progressive voices for peace on both sides”.

Such concerns are not unfounded, as in March 2014 a BDS motion passed at King’s College London left Jewish students in tears following the debate and later saw a Muslim prayer room sign attacked.

Given the NUS commitment to student welfare it must be asked why the NEC has passed a motion which many of the UK’s Jewish students have openly expressed concern about. 

This failure is further highlighted by the fact that in May the NEC rejected a motion condemning gender segregation (since declared ‘unlawful’) for fear of alienating Muslim students – and will leave Jewish students wondering why they are not offered the same support.

As we have said on many occasions Student Rights welcomes free and rigorous debate on the Israel Palestine issue, yet in this case the NUS is putting politics ahead of student welfare – and is risking campus cohesion to do so.