● Malia Bouat­tia voted out as Na­tional Union of Stu­dents’ pres­i­dent after ‘hos­tile and di­vi­sive’ year

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

MALIA BOUAT­TIA, the con­tro­ver­sial leader of the Na­tional Union of Stu­dents, has failed in her bid to be re-elected as the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s pres­i­dent.

Ms Bouat­tia — who de­scribed the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham as “a Zion­ist out­post”, made ref­er­ence to a “Zion­ist-led me­dia”, and ap­peared to back vi­o­lent Pales­tinian re­sis­tance — lost to Shakira Martin in the first round of Wed­nes­day’s elec­tion. Ms Martin re­ceived 402 votes to Ms Bouat­tia’s 272.

After her elec­tion last year it emerged that the NUS had in­ves­ti­gated Ms Bouat­tia over her com­ments.

The in­quiry, in early 2015, found her guilty of mis­con­duct and con­cluded that it was “not un­rea­son­able” to re­gard her com­ments as an­ti­semitic.

Her views were later de­scribed by the Com­mons’ Home Af­fairs Se­lect Com­mit­tee as “out­right racism”.

Ms Martin said: “I am hon­oured and hum­bled to have been elected.

“I take this as a vote of trust that our mem­bers be­lieve I can lead our na­tional move­ment to be the fight­ing and cam­paign­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion we need it to be, rep­re­sent­ing the breadth of our di­verse mem­ber­ship.”

Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Ms Martin had made a con­certed ef­fort to win sup­port from

Jewish stu­dents, at­tend­ing the Union of Jewish Stu­dents’ awards din­ner last month and go­ing on a UJS-or­gan­ised trip to Is­rael and the West Bank in Jan­uary.

She said be­fore go­ing to the Mid­dle East that al­though she had orig­i­nally de­clined the in­vi­ta­tion, she had changed her mind be­cause “it is es­sen­tial I lis­ten to the voices of my mem­ber­ship and ed­u­cate my­self on par­tic­u­lar is­sues such as Is­rael and Pales­tine to en­sure that I make in­formed de­ci­sions as a leader”.

Her cam­paign was sup­ported by a num­ber of prom­i­nent Jewish stu­dents, in­clud­ing Izzy Lenga, who her­self was elected NUS vi­cepres­i­dent for wel­fare is­sues, re­ceiv­ing 393 votes to her op­po­nent’s 328.

Be­fore the vote, Ms Lenga told con­fer­ence del­e­gates in Brighton: “Even in this elec­tion, peo­ple have re­ferred to me as ‘the Jewish can­di­date’.

“I’m not just ‘the Jewish can­di­date’, I’m a proud Jewish wo­man who cam­paigns and wins on fi­nance and hous­ing and health and equal­ity.”

UJS ex­tended its “heart­felt con­grat­u­la­tions” to the new pres­i­dent.

A UJS spokesper­son said: “Shakira’s elec­tion demon­strates a re­jec­tion of the di­vi­sive rhetoric used by Malia Bouat­tia, whose past an­ti­semitic com­ments have re­mained prob­lem­atic for Jewish

stu­dents for over a year. The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Jewish stu­dents across the UK will be grate­ful that NUS will soon be led once again by a ca­pa­ble leader who is gen­uinely com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that the stu­dent move­ment stands up for all its mem­bers.”

UJS also said it was “de­lighted” at Ms Lenga’s elec­tion, com­mend­ing her “ex­cep­tional com­mit­ment” as the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham’s education of­fi­cer, on the NUS NEC and in her wider cam­paign­ing work for Jewish stu­dents and stu­dents from a range of back­grounds and cul­tures. They added: “We hope Izzy’s suc­cess will em­power other Jewish stu­dents to run for lead­er­ship roles, both in their stu­dent unions and na­tion­ally.

“We are ex­cited to see what Izzy will achieve in her new role and wish her ev­ery suc­cess in the com­ing year”. Jonathan Arkush, Board of Deputies pres­i­dent, said Ms Bouat­tia had “made the NUS a hos­tile place for Jewish stu­dents.”

He added: “It is wel­come that stu­dents of all faiths across the coun­try have cho­sen to re­ject di­vi­sive and big­oted at­ti­tudes in favour of a wel­com­ing en­v­i­ron-ment for all”.

The NUS also passed a mo­tion com­bat­ing an­ti­semitism which in­cluded adopt­ing the In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Al­liance’s def­i­ni­tion of Jew-hate.

An amend­ment put for­ward by anti-Zion­ist Jewish stu­dents propos­ing an al­ter­na­tive def­i­ni­tion was re­jected.

New NUS pres­i­dent Shakira Martin

Elected vice-pres­i­dent: Izzy Lenga

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