NUS stops attempt by anti-Zionist activists to force vote on breaking link with UJS

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NUS stops attempt by anti-Zionist activists to force vote on breaking link with UJS

NUS issues statement confirming UJS is representative body of Jewish students on campuses after last month's conference hijack attempt

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Previous NUS conference in Harrogate
Previous NUS conference in Harrogate

The National Union of Students has scuppered an attempt to force a vote on the main floor of its conference calling into question the role of the Union of Jewish Students over its support for Israel.

Jewish News has learned that several student volunteers holding anti-Zionist views attempted to force the questioning of the legitimacy of UJS to represent all Jewish student voices in a break-out session meeting outside the main conference arena.

Claims that the vote was carried overwhelmingly at the NUS conference in Blackpool last month are wide of the mark.

When one of volunteers attending last month’s conference asked for a show of hands in favour of the anti-UJS motion, they did receive majority backing from those in the break-out session at what was described as a “temperature check” to test support.

But after interventions from NUS officials the motion was not submitted and did not go to a formal vote at the conference. The volunteers were also made to issue a formal apology for their actions.

Edward Isaacs, UJS President, 2023

In a statement, 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.

“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.”

Pictures posted on X by the UJS of graffiti at the conference

After the April conference UJS issued a statement saying the NUS was “broken beyond repair”, with examples of antisemitic graffiti being found in the toilets at the event in Blackpool

The UJS represents 9,000 students Jewish in the UK, and has insisted 82 per cent of them class themselves as being Zionists.

Some Jewish students have though raised concerns about the UJS position on Israel, claiming that it has been criticism-free.

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