The BBC is reporting that three vice presidents at the National Union of Students have accused their president of “anti-Semitic rhetoric”.
Malia Bouattia wrote in 2011 that Birmingham University was “something of a Zionist outpost”. Now a letter signed by 44 student leaders says: “Jewish students have not felt safe participating in our national movement.” Ms Bouattia says she will do everything in her power to ensure Jewish students are safe.
Her election as NUS president in April is one of the reasons referendums were held in a number of universities on whether to disaffiliate from the NUS. Only Newcastle, Hull, Lincoln and Loughborough voted to leave.
In an open letter, the student leaders warn that disaffiliation campaigns will continue unless the concerns of Jewish students are properly addressed. The letter, which does not mention Ms Bouattia by name, says: “NUS’ leadership has rightly come under increased scrutiny for its attitude towards Jewish students.”
Richard Brooks, a vice-president of the NUS who signed the letter, said they wanted the thousands of Jewish students about to start university to feel the NUS movement was a “place for them”.
“It is obviously a very challenging and nuanced argument but 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.” He said comments on social media or the tone of rhetoric in student politics made Jewish students feel unsafe or at least unwelcome.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter. ~ Meena
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