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October 19, 2016 2:47 pm

UK Parliament Antisemitism Report Slams Controversial President of Country’s Largest Student Union for ‘Worrying Disregard’ of Campus Jew-Hatred

avatar by Lea Speyer

NUS president Malia Bouattia. Photo: NUS UK.

NUS president Malia Bouattia. Photo: NUS UK.

A recent Parliament report on the state of antisemitism in the United Kingdom slammed the head of the country’s largest student union for undermining efforts to combat Jew-hatred on campus.  

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) report said that National Union of Students (NUS) president Malia Bouattia is not taking the issue seriously and has responded to Jewish students’ concerns about previous comments she has made — widely condemned as antisemitic — “with defensiveness and an apparent unwillingness to listen to their concerns.” 

The report continued:

There is of no course no reason why an individual who has campaigned for the rights of Palestinian people…should not serve as President of the NUS. But Ms. Bouattia’s choice of language (and ongoing defense of that language) suggests a worrying disregard for her duty to represent all sections of the student population and promote a balanced and respectful debate. Referring to Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost” (and similar comments) smacks of outright racism, which is unacceptable, and even more so from a public figure such as the President of the NUS.

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Responding to the claims put forth by HASC, Bouattia said in a statement that she will “continue to listen to the concerns of Jewish students and the Jewish community,” adding:  

As I wrote upon my election as President, and in the submission to this Inquiry, if the language I have used in the past has been interpreted any other way then let me make this clear — it was never my intention and I have revised my language accordingly. Our movement has students, both Jewish and otherwise, who hold a variety of deeply held beliefs on Israel-Palestine but it is a political argument, not one of faith. There is no place for antisemitism in the student movement, and in society.

More than 175 NUS officers, student leaders and academics rushed to Bouattia’s defense, signing an open letter this week against what they say is HASC’s “extremely alarm[ing]” treatment of the NUS president.

The signatories contend that Bouattia “is being singled out for her views on Israel…and depicted as the source of antisemitism in Higher Education…We believe this report’s selective and partisan approach attempts to delegitimize NUS, and discredit Malia Bouattia as president.”

Bouattia has come under repeated fire for her failure to apologize for her antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric, and for continually dismissing concerns regarding systemic Jew-hatred on UK college campuses.

In September, as The Algemeiner reported, 43 NUS campus leaders condemned Bouattia for making Jewish students feel unsafe and unwelcome in the national movement.

Days before, during a BBC interview, Bouattia refused to apologize when challenged about a 2011 article she co-wrote, characterizing Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost” because of its large Jewish population.

The Algerian-born Bouattia first attracted ire when, as The Algemeiner previously reported, she was running for the NUS leadership position, and comments she had made in support of terrorism against Israel came to light. In 2014, for example, while speaking at a “pro-resistance” event celebrating “Gaza and the Palestinian revolution,” she 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.

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