Controversial UK Student Leader Ends Term as NUS President With Shout of ‘Free, Free Palestine’
Malia Bouattia completed her controversy-dogged term as UK National Union of Students (NUS) president with a tear-filled farewell speech that ended in a shout of “Free, Free Palestine.”
Bouattia — who lost her bid for reelection last week in an unexpected trouncing by Shakira Martin, a development much celebrated by local Jewish groups — gave her closing remarks on Thursday, the final day of this year’s annual NUS national conference.
Bouattia counted the mainstreaming of anti-Israel views within Britain’s student movement as one of the three most consequential campaigns during her tenure, a pet project within her devotion to the greater “liberation movement.”
Also in her speech, Bouattia took credit for leading a “program of actions to tackle all forms of hate crime, including the most wide-ranging series of actions to tackle antisemitism in NUS’s history.” Throughout her time as NUS head, Bouattia — who recently attended a “Palestine Conference” backed in part by a Hamas-apologist — was repeatedly criticized and condemned, including in an official governmental report, for ignoring the problem of antisemitism on campuses.
Bouattia further claimed that she had faced “unprecedented” resistance as president, including harassment, hatred and death threats, which led her “to conclude that, within the context of growing Islamophobia, there are those who would not accept a progressive, Muslim woman of color in a position of power.”
Responding to Bouattia’s speech, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson tweeted sarcastically: “What diplomacy! I wish her a happy retirement.”
Martin, Bouattia’s successor, is a black single mother of two who is perceived as having made an effort to connect with the Jewish community — including by attending the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) annual awards dinner last month and traveling to both Israel and Poland (ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day) with UJS.