WUJS seeks to declare March as ‘antisemitism awareness month’

World Jewish student body also pledges to remember Armenian Genocide.

January 2, 2018 17:23
2 minute read.
'Gurlitt: Status Report - Nazi Art Theft and its Consequences' exhibition at the Bundeskunsthalle in

'Gurlitt: Status Report - Nazi Art Theft and its Consequences' exhibition at the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn, Germany, November 2, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

One-hundred-and-fifty-seven young Jewish adults participated in the World Union of Jewish Students’ (WUJS) annual congress, which took place in Jerusalem from Thursday to Monday, and tackled a wide range of issues including antisemitism and recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

The World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) picture taken at the Leonardo Hotel in Jerusalem Credit: Dana Levinson Steiner

Participants from 36 countries attended the event, coming from Eastern, Central and Western Europe, North and South America, Australasia, South Africa, India, Turkey and Israel.

Jewish student union delegates representing 29 countries voted in the WUJS’ General Assembly which took place in the framework of the congress, including the American Union of Jewish Students, which received voting rights over the weekend, when they were promoted from observer to partial member.

Avigayil Benstein, 24, was elected to be the new President of WUJS, succeeding outgoing president, 26-year-old Yosef Tarshish.

WUJS passed a number of policy motions at their General Assembly, tackling issues of right-wing extremism, antisemitism and Jewish pluralism in Israel.

On the issue of right-wing extremism, an emergency motion that was submitted by the Austrian Union of Jewish Students resulted in a WUJS declaration against the normalization of right-wing extremism in light of the formation of the new government in Austria that includes the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPO), which was founded by Nazis.

“It is our belief that not only is the party fascist and xenophobic in nature, but is antisemitic as well,” WUJS said, condemning the FPO and its inclusion in Austrian government “in the strongest possible terms” and committing not to work with members or affiliates of the FPO and to boycott their government officials.

WUJS also resolved to remember the Armenian Genocide, and to condemn and reject any attempt to deny, distort, or ignore the historical reality of this genocide.

On the subject of Jewish pluralism in the State of Israel, WUJS resolved to raise consciousness and encourage public discourse on the subject and to seek partnership with existing organizations fighting for religious pluralism in Israel, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, Hiddush, the Israeli Religious Action Center and the Forum for Equal Burden Sharing.

In addition, WUJS declared that the month of March should be inaugurated as “Antisemitism Awareness Month”, and laid the groundwork to coordinate and launch an international campaign to this effect on campuses worldwide, in partnership with a number of government ministries and campus organizations.

Participating in the congress, former MK Dov Lipman awarded the Maurice L. Pertzweig Social Action Award to the Mexican branch of the World Union of Jewish Students at the WUJS Gala Dinner on Sunday night.

The Mexican delegation received the award for their work in disaster relief following the earthquake in Mexico in September, during which the WUJS branch worked together with disaster relief professionals and volunteers to clear up the destruction.

Lipman told the students that the award winners “demonstrate the Jewish of tikkun olam and clearly understand our national mission to be a ‘light unto the nations.’”

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