Now even the NUS are accusing Malia Bouattia of being antisemitic
Prominent figures say Jewish students’ voices are being dismissed
Malia Bouattia has again been accused of antisemitism, this time by leaders within her own organisation. Over 50 senior figures condemned her for not taking the worries of Jewish students seriously enough. In an open letter published yesterday, they said: “[We] must listen to Jewish students when they say something is antisemitic.”
Three Vice-Presidents and the Scottish NUS President have signed the letter, arguing: “Over the past six months, the NUS’ Leadership has rightly come under increased scrutiny for its attitude towards Jewish students.”
Although Malia is not specifically named, the letter criticises the “NUS leadership” for creating an environment where, “Jewish students have not felt safe participating in our national movement, because of the actions and rhetoric of leadership of NUS”.
They warn that until the issue of anti-semitism is “properly addressed”, the NUS will continue to face disaffiliation campaigns from student unions.
The NUS ‘stands with Jewish Students’
The letter, signed by 52 NUS Officers from local student unions, the National Executive Committee and three Vice-Presidents says they are committed to “standing with Jewish students [and] ensure that every single student feels safe and welcome within the NUS.” Richard Brooks, one of the letter’s signatures and the NUS’ Vice President for Union Development has said that student politics has become an environment where many Jewish students feel unsafe.
Speaking yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s, The World at One, he said: “When a number of Jewish students over a consistent period of time say they do not feel safe participating in student politics and in the student movement, I think we have to take that really seriously and listen.”
‘The student movement and NUS is absolutely a place for you’
In the letter, which criticises the NUS leadership for “anti-semitic rhetoric”, student leaders said:
“Over the past six months, NUS’ Leadership has rightly come under increased scrutiny for its attitude towards Jewish students. They have been held to account for undermining Jewish students’ ability to elect their own representatives, and challenged on antisemitic rhetoric. Ultimately this was a key issue in a number of disaffiliation campaigns from Students’ Unions across the country. This will continue unless properly addressed.
“As was demonstrated by the article published in The Guardian recently, and its discussion of antisemitism within the student movement, Jewish students have repeatedly highlighted concerns and yet again their voices have been dismissed. Time and time again Jewish students have not felt safe participating in our national movement, because of the actions and rhetoric of leadership of NUS.
“We, the undersigned, stand with Jewish students in their right to feel represented, safe and welcome in participating in NUS’ democracy.
“We must listen to Jewish students when they say something is antisemitic. We apologise for anything or anyone that would make you feel otherwise, and promise to respect, champion and listen to your concerns. The student movement and NUS is absolutely a place for you.”
Malia: ‘I will do everything in my power’
In response to the open letter, Malia said: “I support my colleagues in the NUS leadership in calling for assurances that Jewish students will be safe on campus and I will do everything in my power to ensure that is the case.
“My priorities for the year ahead include a focus on inclusion, tackling hate crime on campuses and ensuring that all marginalised and oppressed groups feel safe in the movement.
“I look forward to working with my officers and NEC colleagues to continue to listen to Jewish students and support them in being part of NUS.”
In an interview with The Guardian last week, Malia claimed that her previous remarks had been “misunderstood” as anti-semitic. The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) criticised the NUS President, arguing that she had created “One rule for the Jews, another for everyone else”.
Following Malia’s election as NUS President, accusations of anti-semitism led many students to call for their Student Unions to disaffiliate from the NUS- claiming that the NUS did not represent their interests.
Since April, the student unions of Newcastle, Hull, Lincoln and Loughborough have voted to leave the NUS.