As a member of the NUS from 1995-1999, I remember a relaxing and tolerant campus. As Publicity Sec for the Jewish Society at the University of Kent, I remember happily chalking colourful notices on the pavements, letting students know about upcoming J-soc events. Would that be possible today? Would it be safe for a lone, curly-haired, nineteen year-old to advertise anything Jewish?
Considering that CST figures clearly show a rise in anti-Semitism in the UK whenever Israel is in the spotlight, the recent NUS motion to boycott Israel only encourages racism, and simply opposes its very own values of freedom of speech and expression.The thing I loved about leaving home and going to uni, was the sense of everybody being different, but equal, and everyone having something to offer. Today I don’t recognise the NUS that I was a part of. With every ounce of my knowledge of Israel, (four years’ worth of studying, living and working in an amazing place) I call on the Chair and Exec of the NUS to reconsider this motion without delay. Have any of you even visited this vibrant democracy to see for yourselves?Whatever the politics of the NUS, it is completely irresponsible to publicly denounce the one Jewish country, at the expense of every Jewish student in the UK. There have already been alarming anti-Semitic incidents on UK campuses. This motion only encourages the element that is incapable of separating hate for Israel from the Jewish people in general. We have seen this over and over again.In the rise up to the hell that became Nazi Germany, one of the first sectors of society to alienate Jewish people, was academia. “We’re talking about the State of Israel,” you may say. But for the responsible, umbrella group of a student body, this is still dangerous. As mentioned, CST figures are clear and the NUS ought to be very sensitive to the reasons for anti-Semitism on campus. It happens because of incitement. Negative references to the only democracy in the Middle East, because it is also the only Jewish country, in themselves constitute incitement. It is beyond the control of NUS to regulate this, and therefore NUS should not be party to it, much less encourage it.The many enemies of Israel feed on propaganda and incitement and you are simply aiding their cause. This makes the NUS partial to political propaganda used by terrorist groups. If this was really to do with the plight of the Palestinians, NUS would be investigating the child abuse in PA areas, as well as the refusal of the Hamas leadership to allow in Israeli goods and aid to their own Palestinian people. Hamas is registered as a terrorist organisation, and the Palestinian people are suffering at the hands of their own leadership, not under Israel. A million and a half Arabs have Israeli citizenship, and would never swap it for membership of a Palestinian State. Perhaps you as NUS have not had access to some of this information. I suggest you check out Palestinian Media Watch online, to give you an idea of what might be appropriate when making choices about who, and what, to boycott. The leaders of a society daily slandering Jews as “monkeys and pigs”, and calling their little ones to martyr themselves and “spill Jewish blood”, do not need the encouragement of the NUS. My experience at UKC was a great one. Please don’t spoil the reputation of our wonderful British universities by endangering the liberty of Jewish and other students, by one crazy motion. Not condemning ISIS puts it all in perspective. As a non-Jewish girl I had four amazing years in Israel. Believe me, there is nothing to boycott. On the contrary, almost every smart innovation you can think of was born in the Jewish State. Oh and by the way, me chalking now for J-soc, as a non-Jew? Do you really think I’d be safe? No, I wouldn’t. As a non-Jewish, British student, I would not be safe. You are putting lives in danger, Jewish and non-Jewish. Just like ISIS, these people don’t care. Anyone who stands in their way must be removed. This is what you are inviting on to campus. This is what you must revoke, without delay. Have courage, dear NUS. Together let’s continue the fight against all racism on campus. It’s fine to be aware of Islamophobia, but you must also be aware of anti-Semitism.