The Presidents of the Oxford University Jewish Society have condemned the National Union of Students (NUS) for its “failure to confront anti-Semitism”.
The Annual NUS Conference held on 5, 6 and 7 April 2005 ended in the resignation of three Jewish officers.
Luciana Berger, Mitch Simmons and Johnny Warren all handed in their resignation after considering the NUS’ failure to act quickly in censoring and banning the anti- Semitic literature that was being distributed at the conference by the General Union of Palestine Students.
The NUS has also been accused of ignoring a dossier prepared by the Union of Jewish Students on incidents of anti-Semitism at Sussex University and allowing a motion to strip Berger of her role as NUS Convenor of the Anti-Racism Campaign, while ignoring the statement made in an open forum at the SOAS Union, “I won’t say whether it’s a good or a bad thing to burn down a synagogue, but I can see it’s a rational act.”
Gabriel Doctor and Abigail Don sent an email to all members of the society urging students to mandate their JCR Presidents to write letters of condemnation to the NUS.
“If you’re concerned by all this, we encourage you to do something about it,” they wrote. “This is not just activism for the sake of it – many of your colleges will be directly affiliated to NUS, and so this affects you, directly.
“If your JCR is an NUS-affiliate, you can table a motion in the next meeting, mandating your President to write a letter of condemnation or censure; or if you think it’s worth it, propose a motion of disaffiliation.”
Doctor said, “I find it very worrying that an organisation supposed to represent all students, at its own conference pays scant regard to anti-Semitism. Freedom of speech is one thing, blatant and hurful lies another.”
John Blake, President of OUSU, said, “It is very sad and upsetting when anyone decides to resign on any grounds of discrimination.” Blake, who was at the NUS Conference, said that there was “a much larger delegation from the Islamic Society”.
“In the NUS passions run very highly. The nature of student politics lets people to speak more freely without fear of damaging their careers.”
Kat Fletcher, President of the NUS, maintains that the Union has the principles of equality, diversity and democracy at its core, and said that the ssues brought up at the conference would be looked into. Action on this issue will have to wait until next Sunday at the earliest.
Triona Gilbin, President of Balliol JCR, said, “We haven’t discussed this at at GM but if I was mandated I would act.”ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2005