In the United Kingdom, the Jewish student community is being increasingly shut out of the decision making process concerning identifying and combatting anti-Semitism on university campuses. Recently, the National Union of Students (NUS) in the UK approved a motion which guarantees minority groups, including the Jewish community, representation on the Anti-Racism Anti-Fascism (ARAF) committee. The ARAF is the union-commissioned campaign to address racism and anti-Semitism on campus. Problematically, representatives will be elected exclusively by members of the NUS National Executive Committee (NEC), meaning that the Jewish representative to the committee who addresses anti-Semitism on campus will not require the approval of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). The UJS, representative of over 8,500 Jewish students, had traditionally been a major player in determining the Jewish ARAF committee member. Therefore, the decision, while ensuring the Jewish community representation on the committee, excludes it from the election process of the representative.
Although the amendment to the ARAF motion recommends that the executive committee consult the UJS before electing the Jewish representative, it is equally possible that they will ignore Jewish organizations’ recommendations and elect a representative that upholds their own agenda. So, the crux of the issue is whether the NUS and its executive committee can be trusted to elect a Jewish representative to the ARAF committee that truly represents the Jewish student community and understands the nuances of modern-day anti-Semitism.
The Jewish community already has ample reason not to trust the NUS. In April 2016, the organization’s membership elected Malia Bouattia their president, despite allegations of anti-Semitism against her serious enough to prompt demands and successful motions in a number of universities to disaffiliate from the union. Bouattia has largely ostracized the community, through her public condemnation of Israel and “Zionists,” so it should be no surprise that Jewish community don’t trust the executive committee under her leadership. Therefore, the decision to empower the NUS with the authority to appoint the Jewish ARAF committee representative is immensely troubling to the Jewish student community, regardless of which “interpretation of policy” Boauttia or her organization says it will enforce.
Does this mean, then, that the NUS is no longer committed to fighting anti-Semitism on UK campuses? Of course not. However, what it does mean is that its ability to effectively realize those commitments will depend largely on whether the elected representative for Jewish students is actually representative and appreciates the nuances of modern-day anti-Semitism. The NEC now has the power to elect a Jewish representative who, for example, supports Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) or dismisses the subtler forms of anti-Semitism, i.e., the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. Crucially, without the mandated input of the UJS, the 8,500 Jewish students are simply excluded from the election, and so their representative will not be accountable to them.
Ultimately, Jewish students are becoming disenfranchised from the NUS, and now all the more so given that they have a diminishing role in determining what constitutes anti-Semitism. In addition, the fact that the president of the NUS singles-out Israel for public condemnation while remaining silent on colossal human rights violations by other nations sets an example that normalizes the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. As a result, it could be expected that anti-Zionist attitudes may well grow on campuses around Britain, and anti-Semitism could increase surreptitiously under that banner.
More worryingly, the NUS decision is only the most recent of a series of actions by the political left-wing in Britain that disaffects a large part of the Jewish community. Sympathy for the Palestinian cause, among other factors, has caused the left-wing to place itself ideologically against Israel and Zionism. This has created a palpable friction between British Jewry and left-wing political organizations, particularly the Labour Party and the NUS. This friction has been exacerbated by deeply concerning comments from Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone and Malia Bouattia, which have provoked the Jewish community. Had Bouattia presented an alternative motion which would re-empower the UJS to determine the Jewish representation to the anti-racism committee, it would have partly redeemed the student left-wing despite their anti-Israel rhetoric, or least kept the Jewish students silent on the matter of anti-Semitism in her organization.
As things stand, however, her vote to formally drive a wedge between the UJS and the appointment of a Jewish representative to the anti-racism committee, alongside her support for BDS and public condemnations of Israel, do precisely the opposite. It is evident that any real NUS effort to tackle anti-Semitism on campus requires close cooperation with the wider Jewish student community. Therefore, on a committee mandated to tackle all forms of racism, the Jewish representative should be subject to the approval or veto of the Union of Jewish Students – a body actually representative of the will of Jewish students. Ultimately, denying the UJS such influence on the committee mandated to tackle anti-Semitism while at the same time normalizing and perhaps even encouraging anti-Zionism communicates loud and clear that British Universities are becoming less and less a safe space for Jews.
Robert Lewis is a British student and an intern at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).
Jul 27, 2017 0
Jul 27, 2017 0
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.