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Written by Student Rights on 20 July 2016 at 11am

NUS criticised for 'excluding' Jewish students

Student Rights has long argued that there is a problem with antisemitism on the UK's university campuses, and that this is an issue which the National Union of Students (NUS) has failed to take seriously.

The perception the organisation has failed to deal with the problem was strengthened earlier this year following the election of Malia Bouattia as President of the NUS, with Bouattia facing accusations of antisemitism during her campaign.

However, it is clear the problem goes beyond one individual. In February, the NUS’ National Executive Committee passed a motion which removed one of the automatic leadership places on its Anti-racism Anti-Fascism (ARAF) campaign which had been reserved for a Jewish student.

The problem was not rectified earlier this week, despite the NUS National Executive Committee (NEC) restoring the guaranteed place for a Jewish student on the ARAF campaign.

The NEC has instead been criticised for giving itself the power to decide the Jewish representative rather than the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), a decision made by Bouattia, who as Chair had the casting vote.

While the NUS NEC has promised to consult UJS, this has failed to satisfy the organisation's Campaigns Director, Josh Nagli, who released a statement saying:

Today, NUS NEC once again showed its complete lack of commitment to Jewish students by voting for a motion that means that Jewish students will have no say in who represents them on the NUS Anti-Racism, Anti-Fascism (ARAF) committee.

It will now be down to NEC to elect the ARAF committee and therefore to decide on behalf of Jewish students who represents them. This decision is undemocratic and excludes the 8,500 Jewish students that we represent.  

He went onto say:

“It was no surprise that the NUS President, Malia Bouattia, who had the deciding vote, once again showed that she has absolutely no interest in defending Jewish students’ interests by voting to remove the ability of Jewish students to shape for themselves the student movements’ fight against racism and fascism.”

The decision to deny Jewish students the opportunity to pick their own representative to the NUS ARAF campaign is further evidence Bouattia is failing to reach out to the large number of Jewish students who have raised concerns about her leadership. 

Such decisions are clearly contributing to an atmosphere in which Jewish students feel alienated from student politics and the NUS, and when combined with the incidents of antisemitism highlighted by Student Rights in the past, risk leaving Jewish students feeling increasingly marginalised on campus.