VOICE OF THE JEWISH NEWS: Students, Jewish or not, deserve so much better

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VOICE OF THE JEWISH NEWS: Students, Jewish or not, deserve so much better

This week's Jewish News editorial looks at why the Government has suspended all engagement with the National Union of Students.

Richard Ferrer has been editor of Jewish News since 2009. As one of Britain's leading Jewish voices he writes for The Times, Independent, New Statesman and many other titles. Richard previously worked at the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, edited the Boston Jewish Advocate and created the Channel 4 TV series Jewish Mum Of The Year.

Ex-NUS president Shaima Dallali was ousted from the union in November 2022 over antisemitism claims.
Ex-NUS president Shaima Dallali was ousted from the union in November 2022 over antisemitism claims.

The National Union of Students represents tens of thousands of members of 600 student unions up and down the country. For the first 80 years of its century-long history it prided itself on representing students’ interests and maintaining standards in campus life.

The NUS website says the union is “proudly radical since 1922”. In the past decade or so, however, under the perverse influence of ideologues, this radicalsm has mutated.

It has forsaken its raison d’etre to become an incubator for myopic twenty-somethings brainwashed from a young age to believe western ideology and Israel (and, by extension, we dodgy Jews) are the root cause of the world’s pain.

Outgoing NUS President Larissa Kennedy.

Now, finally, the government has caught on and suspended all engagement with the NUS, removed it from Department for Education groups and reported it to the Charity Commission – potentially devastating for an organisation that recently faced bankruptcy.

These developments have been a decade or more in the making. In recent years, the NUS has happily jumped all over countless policies boycotting Israel while refusing to condemn even Islamic State.

Let’s not forget that at its annual conference in 2016, delegates even heard arguments trying to persuade them to vote against British students commemorating the UK’s official Holocaust Memorial Day. Malia Bouattia, who was elected as NUS president on the same day the arguments were heard, described Birmingham University an “outpost of Zionism”.

The moral vacuity at the dark centre of this shabby little outfit has been exposed to sunlight

Current president Larissa Kennedy is alleged to have told Jewish students complaining about the scheduled appearance of the anti-Israel rapper Lowkey at an event at the NUS conference in Liverpool that they could “segregate themselves”.

Kennedy’s predecessor, Shakira Martin, apologised for omitting Judaism from a questionnaire about religion while incoming president Shaima Dallali posted an Islamic chant threatening Jews with death and sympathised with Hamas.

These presidents have missed out on charm school, to say the least.

It all adds up to one clear message that’s been sent to Jewish students time and time again: there is no place for you in the NUS.

Now the moral vacuity at the dark centre of this shabby little outfit has been exposed to sunlight, the day might come when all students – Jewish or not – finally get their NUS back.

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