Oxford, All Souls College.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Student bodies from a number of prestigious British universities are on the precipice of leaving the National Union of Students after the election of the organization's new president Malia Bouattia, Jewish News reported Friday.
Students from Oxford and Cambridge said this week they are planning to hold a referendum vote on whether to stay in the NUS after a number of anti-Semitic comments attributed Bouattia were discovered.
Bouattia, NUS's first black Muslim female president, stated in 2011 that the University of Birmingham was a "Zionist outpost in British higher education" and was later chastised for referring to "Zionist-led media outlets."
She also remarked that violence or "non-peaceful resistance" was the most effective way Palestinians could bring an end to the decades long conflict with Israel.
More recently, Bouattia found controversy after she initially failed to support a motion condemning ISIS as a terror organization, on the grounds that doing so would be “blatant Islamophobia,” according to BBC.Bouattia's appointment
has outraged many across British campuses, particularly Jewish society leaders, who signed an open letter slamming her prejudicial views.
In response, Bouattia made attempted to prove her views were not anti-Semitic, saying: "I want to be clear that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is not me taking issue with being Jewish. In fact, Zionist politics are held by people from a variety of different faiths, as are anti-Zionist politics."
"It is a political argument, not one of faith," she said.
On the same day of Bouattia's appointment, NUS student leaders from across England argued against a motion to commemorate the Holocaust.
Chester University’s Darta Kaleja spoke against commemorating Holocaust memorial day on the grounds that it ignores other global atrocities and genocides.
“Before I start I want to make it clear I am not against commemorating the Holocaust,” Kelja said. “I am against the NUS and the government forgetting and ignoring the mass genocides, and prioritizing some lives over others.”
“In my five years of UK education throughout GCSEs and A Levels, not once were the genocides of Tibet, Rwanda, or Zanzibar taught to me and my peers,” Kelja added. “So please, please vote against this motion, against the one day dedicated purely to atrocities of just one mass genocide, as it suggests that some lives are more important than others. Instead campaign for a day to commemorate all of them.”
Kaleja's speech was received by the audience with a strong round of applause.
Sam Gold of Leeds University spoke in favor of the amendment, asking for delegates to support the motion to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive in the NUS.
“The living memory of the Holocaust is dying,” said Gold.
At the end of the debate the motion to commemorate the Holocaust passed.