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July 19, 2016 2:03 pm

UK’s National Student Union President Strikes Down Policy Allowing Jews to Appoint Representative to Anti-Racism Committee

avatar by Lea Speyer

Malia Bouattia at the 2016 NUS conference. Photo: NUS UK.

Malia Bouattia at the 2016 NUS conference. Photo: NUS UK.

The controversial president of the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) has found herself once again embroiled in controversy, after voting against a traditional practice regarding Jewish representation on a prominent committee.

NUS President Malia Bouattia — who has previously been accused of antisemitism — aroused ire when she broke a tie and voted against allowing Jewish students to appoint their own representative to the Anti-Racism, Anti-Fascism (ARAF) committee during a meeting of the NUS National Executive Committee (NEC) on Tuesday. The appointment of a Jewish representative will now be made by the NEC.

In a strongly worded statement against the decision, Union of Jewish Students (UJS) Director Josh Nagli said the NEC has “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 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 added.

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Nagli said it came as “no surprise” that Bouattia, who had the deciding vote, “once again showed that she has absolutely no interest in defending Jewish student’s interests by voting to remove the ability of Jewish students to shape for themselves the student movements’ fight against racism and fascism.”

“Malia has yet to adequately answer the concerns of Jewish students regarding her past rhetoric, and today provided further proof that Jewish students are right to feel unsafe in the national union that she leads,” he said. “After today’s vote, it is clear that NUS, and specifically the NUS president, has no desire to listen to Jewish students.”

Bouattia, as reported by The Algemeiner, has been at the center of controversy in recent months after being accused of supporting violence against Israel and offending the Jewish community. In past remarks, she referred to the University of Birmingham as a “Zionist outpost” because of its large Jewish population and endorsed violent “resistance” against Israel. 

Tuesday’s decision represents the latest manifestation of what many students say are part of her anti-Zionist and antisemitic views.

Present at the NEC meeting was senior Jewish NUS member Izzy Lenga, who seconded a motion to continue the practice of automatically allowing Jewish students to appoint their own representative to the ARAF. In a series of live tweets, Lenga expressed her concerns for Jewish members of NUS:

The NUS represents 600 students organizations and more than 7 million student voices across the UK.

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