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Coffee House Steerpike

NUS president’s attempts to tackle division on shaky ground

3 April 2017

5:18 PM

3 April 2017

5:18 PM

Last year, Baroness Ruth Deech warned that Britain’s leading universities are becoming no-go zones for Jewish students because anti-Semitism is so rife. With a survey out today reporting that two-thirds of Jewish students say the National Union of Students does not respond appropriately to allegations of antisemitism, there is clearly work to do tackling discrimination on campus.

So, Mr S was glad to see Malia Bouattia, the NUS president, discussing the topic in an interview with Novara media. When asked about the problem of anti-Semitism — and its relationship to Islamophobia — Bouattia said that despite attempts by the state to ‘divide and conquer’ and claims by Parliament, Jewish and Muslim organisers are beginning to realise that they are ‘facing the same attacks’.

‘The state’s no 1 tactic is divide and conquer, right? Divide all the communities and don’t allow them to possibly think that they’re all facing the same… err.. attacks. And I think that there is a difference between what institutions or Parliament is doing and saying on all those questions of oppression and what’s happening on the ground. What is happening on the ground is that like Jewish organisers and Muslim organisers and activists are very much articulating the collective struggle and are working together.’

But is Bouattia being entirely forthcoming? After all, Steerpike is yet to hear any one accuse Bouattia of Islamophobia. In contrast, the NUS president has previously made claims about ‘Zionist-led media outlets’ and described the University of Birmingham as ‘something of a Zionist outpost’. Given that the NUS recently ruled that its president’s comments ‘could be reasonably capable of being interpreted as anti-Semitic’, Mr S suspects that she may want to look a bit closer to home when it comes the cause of this ill-feeling.


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