NUS slams claims it has severed ties with Jewish student body as an ‘online lie’

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NUS slams claims it has severed ties with Jewish student body as an ‘online lie’

Small group of pro-Palestine activists, including at least two Jewish students, were stopped from bringing a vote on breaking links with the Union of Jewish Students at last month's NUS conference

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

NUS conference
NUS conference

The National Union of Students has condemned an “online lie” which suggested it had voted at its annual conference last month to disengage with the Union of Jewish Students.

The claim was “categorically untrue” the NUS said, and was designed to “spread misinformation and fear amongst Jewish students at a time when tensions are already so heightened.”

In a statement, the student body said:“A lie is circulating online that NUS have voted to disengage with UJS. This is categorically untrue. It is shameful to spread misinformation and fear amongst Jewish students at a time when tensions are already so heightened. The truth is that NUS in fact stopped a small group of students who tried to call UJS’ legitimacy into question. ”

Jewish News reported on Wednesday NUS stops attempt by anti-Zionist activists to force vote on breaking link with UJS how a move by a group of pro-Palestinian activists to forced a vote on the main floor of the conference, held in Blackpool last month, had been scuppered by officials from the student body.

It is understood that at least two Jewish students were among the small group who pushed the idea of forcing the vote, and who called the legitimacy of UJS into question over its uncritical support for Israel.

The NUS said 700 students  had attended the conference to discuss a range of matters including international students, mental health, the cost of living crisis, improving further education, and the violence in Israel and Palestine.

There was a small group present (around 10-20 students) who were attempting to cause disruption under the banner of pro-Palestine activism.

In a workshop some students attempted to question UJS’ legitimacy and tried to call for a vote on whether NUS should disengage with them.

NUS said they did not allow a debate on this matter, nor did they allow a vote to take place on this matter. 

The conference was dogged by evidence that toilets at the venue had been daubed with antisemitic graffiti.

In a statement after the conference UJS said the NUS conference was “broken beyond repair”.

NUS said:“Alongside UJS, NUS strongly condemns the racist antisemitic incidents that took place during this week’s NUS conference, which resulted in some delegates being removed from the event.

“Disciplinary action was taken and continues to be taken against some delegates due to unacceptable language and the drawing of antisemitic graffiti.”

In a statement put out in relation to attempts to force a vote on the UJS link NUS said:”We are setting a boundary at conference. And that boundary is – the position of UJS, and its role representing Jewish students within NUS: these are conversations for a different space. We wanted to make sure everyone understood why: it is important that we all do, so this is why it’s out of bounds. 

“The Union of Jewish Students is the representative body of Jewish students on our campuses, with a history older than NUS, and is recognised by NUS as an associate member. ”

But they added:”If Jewish students don’t agree with the political positions of UJS, that’s a conversation for Jewish students to have within UJS. 

“How Jewish students are represented is not a question for this conference. NUS conference is an open conference, and questioning UJS’ place here is at odds with our policies, our values and our proud 100 year history at the forefront of liberation that a room at our national conference should have a discussion like that.”

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