NUS of­fers hope to Leeds J-Soc

The Jewish Chronicle - - HOME NEWS - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

THE NA­TIONAL Union of Stu­dents is to hold a ma­jor sym­po­sium to con­front the “spill-over to an­tisemitism” of anti-Is­rael ac­tiv­ity on cam­puses.

Af­ter the open-to-all event in early March, the or­gan­i­sa­tion will send a brief­ing pack to all mem­ber unions re­in­forc­ing its new pol­icy on an­tisemitism, adopted at a meet­ing last month.

Ac­cord­ing to this pol­icy, the 5.3-mil­lion-mem­ber union gives its Jewish mem­bers the sole right to de­fine what con­sti­tutes cam­pus an­tisemitism, draw­ing on the prin­ci­ples of the re­cent All­Party Par­lia­men­tary In­quiry into An­tisemitism, which the union ac­cepts.

This was a blow to Pales­tine ac­tivists, who have be­gun to ar­gue that anti-Is­rael ac­tiv­ity can never con­sti­tute an­tisemitism, as Is­rael has “no place” in Jewish iden­tity. They suc­cess­fully turned this premise into pol­icy at the Univer­sity of Leeds union last month.

The “faiths sym­po­sium” will con­sider how the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry’s find­ings can be im­ple­mented on cam­pus, said Wes Street­ing, NUS vi­cepres­i­dent for ed­u­ca­tion. It will also dis­cuss other faith-re­lated is­sues, such as the con­cerns of Mus­lim stu­dents about the veil.

Mr Street­ing re­vealed that the em­pha­sis of the an­tisemitism dis­cus­sion will be on “how po­lit­i­cal de­bates on cam­pus about Is­rael and the Mid­dle East of­ten spill over to an­tisemitism”.

In a rare pub­lic ad­mis­sion of a rift be­tween NUS and the Pales­tine lobby, he said: “It is clear that Jewish stu­dents are of­ten iso­lated and sub­jected to in­tim­i­da­tion, es­pe­cially by po­lit­i­cal groups who want to stoke up ten­sions on cam­pus. An­tisemitism is, sadly, alive and kick­ing on cam­puses.”

He also broke his union’s si­lence on the Leeds pol­icy, which says that com­plaints by Jewish stu­dents would be ig­nored “as long as Ju­daism as a faith is not of­fended”. Un­til now, NUS has re­fused to pass judge­ment on the pol­icy of an au­ton­o­mous mem­ber union, but Mr Street­ing told the JC that Leeds should veto the pol­icy.

Re­veal­ing that he has held private dis­cus­sions with the Leeds union’s of­fi­cers, he said: “I would call on them to re­verse the pol­icy. It is detri­men­tal to the wel­fare and well­be­ing of Jewish stu­dents in Leeds.”

He added that while it was “prefer­able if it is re­versed by democ­racy”, his plea re­mains, even in the ab­sence of a vote de­feat­ing the pol­icy. This is be­cause he be­lieves it clashes with prin­ci­ples of stu­dent pro­vi­sion, race re­la­tions, “and has wor­ry­ing im­pli­ca­tions in the light of the Par­lia­men­tary En­quiry”.

Damola Timeyin, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and democ­racy of­fi­cer for the Leeds union, de­clined to com­ment, as did the Univer­sity of Leeds.

Mitch Sim­mons, UJS cam­paigns di­rec­tor, wel­comed news of the sym­po­sium, the brief­ing packs for unions, and Mr Street­ing’s com­ments on the Leeds pol­icy. He said: “It is good to see NUS be­ing a prin­ci­pled anti-racist and an­tidis­crim­i­na­tion that does not let pol­i­tics in­ter­fere with this com­mit­ment.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.