Michael Gove has said the National Union of Students has created a “chilling environment” for Jewish students.
The former Tory leadership hopeful and prominent Brexiteer used his first speech since returning to the backbenches to defend academic freedom, particularly when it came to Jewish students.
Speaking at the second reading of the Higher Education and Research bill in parliament, the former education secretary said “at the moment there are voices and individuals within the NUS who have not upheld the best traditions of academic freedom and who have created in some respects a chilling environment and a cold home for students, particularly those who are Jewish.”
Labour MP Wes Streeting, a former president of the NUS, agreed with Mr Gove’s assessment of the organisation.
The Ilford North MP said: “I’m also sorry to have to associate myself with the remarks he made about the National Union of Students and in particular its lack of care towards Jewish students and Jewish representation.
“It’s a sad day when I find myself agreeing with Mr Gove on that particular point.”
This comes after the NUS was accused of a ‘complete lack of commitment’ to Jewish students this week, by the Union of Jewish Students.
UJS reacted angrily after a meeting of the NUS National Executive Committee ended the traditional practice of Jewish students deciding the Jewish representative on the Anti-Racism, Anti-Fascism (ARAF) committee.
New NUS president Malia Bouattia, who has antagonised Jewish students for her anti-Zionist views, was again criticised for her role in casting the deciding vote in a tied contest.
The decision is being seen as yet another snub by NUS president Malia Bouattia, who has railed against the “Zionist-controlled media”. UJS campaigns director Josh Nagli said: “It was no surprise that [Bouattia] once again showed that she has absolutely no interest in defending Jewish students’ interests by voting to remove the ability of Jewish students to shape for themselves the student movements’ fight against racism and fascism.”
He added: “Malia is still yet to adequately answer the concerns of Jewish students regarding her past rhetoric, and today provided further proof that Jewish students are right to feel unsafe in the national union that she leads.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.