Malia Bouattia created ‘one rule for Jews, another for everyone else’
They say she doesn’t listen to their concerns
Malia Bouattia has been accused of creating “One rule for the Jews, another for everyone else”. The national Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has criticised the NUS President for failing to address the concerns of Jewish students.
This comes two days after an The Guardian published an interview with Malia where she defended her statements as not anti-semitic but “misinterpreted” or “misunderstood”. In a statement, UJS has expressed worries that the NUS under Malia has increasingly excluded Jews from the student movement and that she has “denied” Jewish students the right to define what counts as anti-semitism. They added: “Her poor attempts to clarify her past rhetoric are clumsy and do not remotely hold with Jewish students.”
The statement, published today on the UJS blog, points out that the NUS has adopted a policy to treat a racist incident as one that has been perceived as one by the victim or another person. According to this policy: “Jewish students are allowed to define their own oppression. If Jewish students believe something to be antisemitic then it must be considered as such.”
However, UJS argue that Malia’s insistence of being “misinterpreted” shows she has “completely denied the right of Jewish students to define their experiences of antisemitism.” By allowing other groups to define what they consider to be racist remarks, she has created “One rule for the Jews, another for everyone else”.
UJS have expressed worries that Malia’s remarks going unchallenged is a sign the NUS is increasingly excluding Jewish students from the movement. The interview, “proves that Jewish students’ concerns have fallen on deaf ears” and that, “The student movement that the National President is shaping is one that many Jewish students are not invited to engage with.”
UJS’ Campaigns’ Director Joshua Nagil, has told The Tab that he believes there has been a “creation of a culture that means that Jewish students’ concerns regarding antisemitism are either dismissed, or not seen as worthy enough of consideration by some in the student movement….this antisemitism has often manifested itself on the far-left because of extreme anti-Israel or anti-Zionist rhetoric.”
Here is an extract from their strongly worded letter:
“The National President was asked if she was worried that the antisemitism row has diminished her power as president. Her response is shocking. She said that she thinks the controversy raised the profile of the NUS, and provided new platforms for her “to put out our vision of the future”. If her vision of the future is one where Jewish students are made to feel intimidated by the things their National President says and where their oppression is used as a wave to ride on and not taken seriously, then it is a future that I, and I’m sure many, don’t want to be part of.
“Malia, this was your opportunity to look Jewish students in the eye, recognise the problems with your past rhetoric, and apologise. It was your opportunity to reassure the 8,500 Jewish students who will be heading back to campus over the next few weeks that you are listening to their concerns, that you are actively willing to engage with the issues they’ve raised. But you didn’t. Again, you have failed Jewish students.
Instead of engaging with UJS, the national representative of Jewish students, you try and defend yourself in the pages of national newspapers. Why do you continue to ignore the concerns of Jewish students? Why are you continuing to use Jewish students, their experiences, and crucially, their oppression, as a political stick with which to beat them with?
“Malia, Jewish students deserve better”
Over the last few years there has been a rise in the number of anti-semitic incidents reported– according to CST, a charity that ensures the safety and security of the U.K. Jewish community, 557 incidents have been reported from January until June 2016 compared to a total of 500 reported incidents for the whole of last year.
In January, the Israeli ex-secret service chief was a victim of a “hate attack” at King’s College London and York students performed an anti-semitic play, ‘Seven Jewish Children’ as part of Israeli-Apartheid Week. During this year’s NUS National Conference, delegates opposed a motion to officially commemorate the holocaust.
The full statement can be found here.