Whisper it quietly but there’s a change in the air. Across campuses in the United Kingdom something we would have never dreamed of over the summer is starting to happen. Israelis, friends of Israel and Jews are not only no longer sitting quietly but they are starting to emerge as a mass movement. Our critics and enemies have set the board; now the pieces are moving.
I am not usually one for petty student union politics; I find the issues they tend to address time and money wasting and particularly unrepresentative. That is on all issues except for Israel. Netanyahu recently addressed how he felt there was a separate standard applied to Israel and student union’s vociferous obsession with the only free and progressive nation in the Middle East shows there really is a special, dark place in Israel’s critics hearts for the unfairly demonized state. This has culminated in a real fear and feeling of isolation forming among Israelis, friends of Israel and Jews.
Amongst the promises of bringing down the government, free education and all but scrapping rent, unrealistic goals which cause disillusionment across the student body towards union politics, there is an area where students are starting to feel that the Union is making the difference. The motions that are written more like a rant and the bombast of ‘Nazis’ and ‘apartheid’ towards Israel have led to students sitting up and take notice, but not in the way Unions would like.
The bile and offensive against Israel by its critics may have made them feel they were part of an overwhelming majority by shouting loudest but finally this summer it was clear they went too far. Chilling statements in tacit support for Hamas’ terror tunnels by individuals in 'important' student positions were all just small parts of an euphoric and nigh rabid programme designed to crush what they felt was a waning minority of support for Israel.
But then, we hit back; At Universities such as Kings College London, Boycott, Divestment and Sanction motions have been scrapped while elsewhere, such as Exeter, campaigns are being formed to hit back at the one sided debate on campus and in the Union. These are just a couple of examples. Refreshingly, our social media campaigns are starting to gain shape and through dedicated individuals more and more shy supporters are starting to emerge. Jewish and non-Jewish students alike who are passionate about Israel and its future are starting to en bloc support sympathetic candidates for student elections and making real head way in protecting the future of our community and friends at an important stage in people’s lives for political development.
All too often student unions can seem pointless however when they target a certain section of our university campuses for who they are and what they believe, which is bad enough alone, something needs to change, but especially as such discrimination is based on lies. When I arrived at University I thought it was a chance for political expression and freedom; that is being rapidly and systematically being shut by hostile Union policies such as charging budget breaking sums for security involving Israelis or its supporters or by simply no platforming those speakers who do not fit their increasingly radical and hostile viewpoint.
Fortunately, students are starting to slowly but surely see how wrong and damaging these criticisms of Israel really are.
As our new University College London ‘Friends of Israel Society’ states in part of its description: You could currently be forgiven for thinking there was an anti-Israel consensus a UCL. Let's end our silence and prove that to be wrong.