Friday the Independent writes "Student groups across the UK join growing campaign for unions to ‘disaffiliate’ from NUS."
"The move has come after the election of new NUS National President, Malia Bouattia, divided opinion following allegations of “anti-Semitism” which hit her campaign just last week.
The following is her open letter response which is published online:
Dear undersigned members,
Thank you for bringing this letter to my attention and offering me the opportunity to respond. The letter talks of questions, so I respond first to the only direct question posed in the letter which was “why do you see a large Jewish Society as a problem?” The answer is that I do not now, nor did I five years ago when I contributed to the article cited in your letter, see a large Jewish Society on campus as a problem. I celebrate the ability of people and students of all backgrounds to get together and express their backgrounds and faith openly and positively, and will continue to do so.
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 backgrounds and faiths as are anti-Zionist politics. It is a political argument, not one of faith. We should be allowed to disagree on politics without this being a threat to the solidarity of the student movement. Debate and disagreement are vital to any healthy democracy.
You raise two further issues of concern, one of which relates exactly to this point. At the SOAS event mentioned in your letter, I criticised the influence of organisations such as the Henry Jackson Society over policy making in the UK. I described it as promoting neo-con and pro-Zionist policies. In no way did I – or would I – link these positions to Jewish people, but to a particular (non-Jewish) organisation. I am alarmed that you have drawn a link between criticism of Zionist ideologies and anti-Semitism. I am sure many would strongly agree that they are not one and the same and making correlations between faith and politics is both unfair and unrepresentative. These correlations are dangerous and have become the excuse for many racist and fascist attacks up and down the country and in the world, which I am sure we all want to end.
The second concern you raise is about my “relationship” with MPAC and Mr Raza Nadim. I do not have a relationship, in any shape or form, with this organisation or the individual in question. I have always and will continue to respect and uphold NUS' No Platform Policy. I have a public facebook page with nearly 5,000 ‘friends’ on it, many of whom have posted supportive messages to my wall. In all honesty, I was not aware of who Mr Nadim was or his position when he posted to my wall and responded in the same way I would to any post. This certainly does not constitute a relationship or accept an endorsement; it was just a generic response. Since being made aware of his position, I have removed both comments to avoid further doubts.
In my role as the Black Students’ Officer I have a long track record of opposing racism – in all its forms - and actively campaigning against it. I am also an advocate of inter-faith work both inside of our union and beyond. I am open about my own faith, whilst also supporting students of all faiths, because I do believe in creating a cohesive and inclusive society and want to do my best to represent all students.
Therefore, I am deeply concerned that my faith and political views are being misconstrued and used as an opportunity to falsely accuse me of antisemitism, despite my work and dedication to liberation, equality and inclusion saying otherwise.
As president of NUS, I would continue to encourage students to oppose inequality, oppression – including racism – and injustice both at home and abroad. And in doing this, I am happy to be accountable for my views, offer opportunities to discuss them and used that openness and accountability to ensure that I can be representative of the student body as a whole, whilst respecting and encompassing the varied views and opinions held across our movement.
I hope what I have set out above has answered your questions.
Malia Bouattia elected NUS National President at Brighton conference
The letter to Malia is reproduced below:
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