A coalition of student Palestine groups have issued a trenchant declaration calling for a “public apology” from those who they claim attacked the election of Shaima Dallali as president of the National Union of Students.
Last month 22 former presidents of NUS, including three ex-cabinet ministers, signed a letter to the union’s outgoing president and its board of trustees, expressing “serious concerns” about the“safety and treatment of Jewish undergraduates”.
The letter demanded an urgent independent investigation into antisemitism within NUS, and asked for “a full and unreserved apology” to Jewish students and the Union of Jewish Students.
But in a strongly-worded statement the “collective of student activists and groups”, say they “stand against attempts by political lobby groups, the government and the mainstream media to silence students”.
The statement complains of “those whose motives are one of delegitimising solidarity with Palestinians living under occupation, criminalising support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), and in essence creating a breeding ground for anti-Palestinian racism. These are actors who have shared platforms with individuals who deny the Nakba and the right of Palestinians to a homeland. They have also denied apartheid, despite several objective reports by legal and human rights experts saying to the contrary”.
Digging their heels in, the activists say “anti-racism means being unequivocally against settler-colonialism and apartheid. Based on that principle, we call on actors to refuse to engage with and platform individuals and organisations who deny apartheid and enable racism”. That is a clear call for breaking ties with UJS.
In a statement to Jewish News, UJS said: “Jewish students have raised important concerns about racism and inclusion and it is vital that NUS takes this matter seriously to ensure it is an inclusive space for all students. It is disappointing that some groups refuse to acknowledge the hurt Jewish students have felt, and instead suggest ulterior motives”.
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