EXCLUSIVE: JSoc responds to Malia Bouattia “Anti-semitism row raised profile of NUS”

The NUS President said that the controversy had provided new platforms for her “to put out our vision of the future”.

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In a recent interview with The Guardian, Malia also angered the interviewer by refusing to respond to any questions on the no-platforming of Germaine Greer, repeating only “It’s NUS policy” when challenged on perceived hypocrisy in NUS.

The interview also brought up the increased distance between the concerns of the NUS and those of normal students. Malia claimed that turnout to NUS elections was good and similar to turnout for government elections, despite an average turnout for NUS elections of 18%. When challenged on the figures, she claimed that they were a result of the government Prevent programme, which is “actively hunting down students that choose to be politicised”.

She believes that the Prevent programme is not trying to combat terrorism, but has “incredibly racist intentions”. When asked what she would do to replace the Prevent counter-terrorism programme, she proposes “looking at the state of our foreign policy” and making the curriculum at university less Eurocentric.

Malia Bouattia: The NUS President at the centre of a storm

Malia Bouattia: The NUS President at the centre of a storm

Malia claims that the animosity against her is due to the radicalism of her left-wing politics. She wants the NUS to take a much more global perspective, fighting not just against fee hikes but against “the country’s role in escalating international crises”. She is campaigning equally hard on education issues and Palestinian rights.

Although she may cite the strength of “being united”, this doesn’t seem to have helped her on education issues this year, with course fees yet again being hiked by the government. NUS will be protesting later this year, but will not protest the fee hikes, using instead the non-specific hashtag “United4Education”.

A photograph of Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer back in the heady pre trans hate speech days of 2013 (Photo: Helen Morgan)

Germaine Greer, a feminist writer, was scheduled to speak at Sheffield University, but was no-platformed as a result of her views on trans people. Although she does not hate trans people, she believes that a man who chooses to live as a woman has not been a woman all along. This has led to her being branded a “fascist” by some trans activists, and due to this the NUS views her as “spreading hate”.

The interviewer later emailed Malia, asking her to see if her parents agree that Greer is too dangerous to talk to students. Malia has not responded and is said to have left the country.

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Critics of the NUS have drawn parallels between the censorship of Greer on grounds of transphobia (which Greer denies), and the lack of concern about allegations of anti-Semitic comments from Malia. In the interview, Malia stands by her previous rhetoric, believing that she just needs to explain to her detractors and then they will see that she is right. However, she still has not distanced herself from the campaign group MPACUK.

The group, which is banned from NUS on the grounds of racism and anti-semitism, republish articles from neo-Nazi and Holocaust denying websites. They also use the word Zionist instead of the word Jewish, describing the Talmud as a “Zionist holy book” rather than as a Jewish religious text. Using the word Zionist when meaning Jewish is an accusation that has been levelled against Malia, particularly based on her comments that Birmingham is “a Zionist outpost” with “one of the largest Jsocs (Jewish societies) in the country”. MPACUK congratulated Malia on her election.

The interviewer writes that Malia reduced her to “shouting in frustration”. The President of the Union of Jewish Students responded to the article by complaining about yet again being ignored, stating  that she has”One rule for the Jews, another for everyone else”, arguing that her responses prevented “the right of Jewish students to define their experiences of anti-Semitism”.

In an exclusive comment for The Tab, CUJS released this statement: “CUJS feels disappointed. After a referendum campaign in which we were told that the NUS was willing to listen and to change, we have watched for four months as its president and executive continue to ignore our concerns.”