Oxford, Cambridge Threatening to Break Ties With National Student Union Over New President Accused of Antisemitism, Supporting ISIS
Top universities in Britain are threatening to break ties with the country’s National Union of Students (NUS) following its recent election of a new controversial president accused of making antisemitic, anti-Israel and terror-sympathizing comments, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
Students at Cambridge and Oxford announced on Thursday that they would be holding referendums on whether to split from the NUS following the election of Malia Bouattia, the report said. In 2014, while speaking at a “pro-resistance” event celebrating “Gaza and the Palestinian revolution,” Bouattia asserted that it is “problematic” to consider that “Palestine will be free” only by means of “non-violent protest.” In 2011, while attending the University of Birmingham, she called the school “a Zionist outpost” with the “largest [Jewish Society] in the country.” Bouattia has also previously attacked what she called “Zionist-led media outlets,” the report said, and more recently, voted against a NUS motion condemning ISIS because it would be “blatant Islamophobia.”
Prior to her election, Bouattia’s candidacy caused an uproar across many universities in Britain. Fifty-seven Jewish student leaders penned an open letter to the would-be president, asking her to clarify her positions. In response, Bouattia claimed she was not an antisemite, rather an anti-Zionist. “I want to be clear that for me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish,” she wrote.
NUS members have now launched a campaign to disaffiliate from the student organization, the Daily Mail reported, following Bouattia’s election. Students from the universities of Durham, York, Westminster, Birmingham, Edinburgh, King’s College of London and the London School of Economics have offered their support for the disassociation campaign. On social media, Facebook pages are encouraging students to cancel their memberships with NUS.
Jewish Society president at the University College of London, Adam Schapira, called on Bouattia to resign. “Jewish students are deeply shocked and saddened by Malia’s recent election victory…There should be zero tolerance for antisemitism, implicitly or otherwise,” he was quoted as saying by the Jewish Chronicle. “As NUS president, Malia will leave an indelible mark on an organization that claims to fight against all forms of hate and intolerance. It frankly discredits NUS as an organization, and Jewish students are rightly outraged by this. In light of this, I am calling for her immediate withdrawal from NUS.”
Bouattia is the NUS’s first black female Muslim president. She was born in Algeria and came to the UK at age seven after “terrorists rained gunfire” on her school, Bouattia said in her election speech. Defending herself against any links with extremists groups, Bouattia stated: “I know too well the price of terrorism, the consequences of violence and oppression, I saw a country ripped apart by terror and was pushed into exile by its doing. I know too well the damage done by racism and persecution – I faced it every day.”
NUS represents 600 student organizations and more than 7 million student voices across the UK.