New UK National Student Union President Deflects Acknowledgement of Israel’s Right to Exist in First Interview Post Election (VIDEO)
The newly elected president of the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist Tuesday in her first television interview since being elected earlier this month, the Jewish Chronicle reported.
In an appearance on Channel 4 News, journalist Cathy Newman asked Malia Bouattia if she had a problem with Israel’s existence or just “with Israel per-se.” Bouattia deflected the question, answering instead: “I have a problem with the continued occupation of the Palestinian people and them being stripped of their rights. Israel as it behaves is problematic to me.”
Earlier, Bouattia was asked whether she held Israel to a double standard. In response, the NUS president stated, “With Israel I condemn the human rights violations and continued oppression of the Palestinian people. It is not a particular targeting of any group.”
Bouattia’s ascendancy has brought about a storm of controversy in light of antisemitic and anti-Zionist comments she has made in the past. In a 2011 article she co-authored, Bouattia called Birmingham University a “Zionist outpost” with the “largest [Jewish Society] in the country.” 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” and bemoaned the fact that “resistance” is presented as terrorism in the “Zionist-run media.” The NUS president was also accused of sympathizing with ISIS when, in 2014, she delayed a NUS motion condemning the bloodthirsty terror group because of “problematic wording” that she believed may have incited Islamophobia.
Prior to the election, over 300 leaders of Jewish student organizations issued an open letter calling on the then-NUS presidential candidate to clarify her comments. “Our question for you is clear: why do you see a large Jewish Society as a problem?” they wrote. Responding with her own letter, Bouattia denied having any problems with Jews, writing, “I want to be clear that for me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish.”
Students at top universities in Britain, including Cambridge and Oxford, now say they are contemplating breaking ties with the NUS due to Bouattia’s election. A number of NUS members have launched campaigns to disaffiliate their schools from the student organization.
Bouattia told Channel 4 News that her life has been “very, very difficult” following the election. “My parents have been personally harassed in their home in Birmingham by media, and they’ve had to see death and rape threats over social media.” She said the criticism directed against her is “total lies” and is “unfounded.”
Originally from Algeria, Bouattia is the first black female Muslim president of the NUS. The umbrella organization represents 600 students organizations, comprising 7 million student voices across the UK.
Watch Bouattia’s responses about Israel below: