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December 14, 2016 2:31 pm

British Government Endorses Parliamentary Report Slamming Student Umbrella Group for Failing Jews, Downplaying Antisemitism on Campus

avatar by Lea Speyer

UK Parliament. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

UK Parliament. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The British government on Monday officially endorsed a recent report on antisemitism in the UK, slamming the country’s largest student union for “failing to take [the phenomenon across university campuses] sufficiently seriously” 

In a document presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Crown responded positively to the findings of the report, conducted by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) and released in October. Among its conclusions is that the National Union of Students (NUS) is being remiss in its attitude towards and treatment of Jewish students.

Left-leaning student groups, the government concurred with the report, “have allowed antisemitism to emerge” on campus, and must “ensure there is a safe environment for both academic inquiry and freedom of speech within the law.”

The report and the government’s response came amid a worsening climate for Jewish students in Britain and their souring of relations with the NUS — a deteriorating situation attributed largely to its president, Malia Bouattia.

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Bouattia has come under repeated fire for failing to retract or express remorse for her antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric, and for continually dismissing concerns regarding systemic Jew-hatred on UK campuses.

The HASC investigation, as The Algemeiner reported, harshly criticized Bouattia for acting “with defensiveness” when asked to apologize, and for her “apparent unwillingness to listen” to the fears of Jewish students.

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.

Though Bouattia has said she is taking initial steps to repair relations with Jewish students, a leader of the umbrella organization the Union of Jewish Students said this is not really the case.

As The Algemeiner reported, outgoing UJS President Josh Seitler wrote in an op-ed that he had been wrong to have been persuaded by Bouattia of her good intentions, after she refused yet again to apologize for her antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric.

Seitler said that in an atmosphere of increasing antisemitism and antisemitic anti-Zionism on UK campuses, Bouattia’s “words and deeds fuel this menacing situation” — which he called “a matter of life or death” for some Jewish students.

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