Like many political bodies, over time the NUS has diverged from its core principle: to represent students. It has become an organisation too distracted by geopolitical events, namely Israel and Palestine, to successfully represent students’ rights and interests. This has forced many of us to arrive at the point where we can no longer support our University’s affiliation with the NUS.
As a Jewish student at Loughborough University I will be campaigning to disaffiliate with the NUS in a referendum on the 26th May.
There is a new breed of militant leftist politics sweeping across universities, and it’s protected by the very organisation that is charged to represent the moderate majority of students.
There has been much written about NUS President, Malia Bouattia, and her comments on Israel, ISIS and Birmingham University being a ‘Zionist Outpost’.
It is shameful that Miss Bouattia is even in her position, but this goes deeper than that. This type of antisemitic, ISIS-sympathising, free-speech-despising ideology has begun penetrating the vary platforms of open and intellectual debate that universities should have at their very core.
A student at Edinburgh University was almost removed from a ‘safe space’ – for simply raising her hand to speak up against the motion. It seems these safe spaces are only safe if you agree with the ultra left-wingers’ platform.
This shuttering of free speech is only one concern I have with the NUS. The ideology that it has germinated worries me more. I want to be clear, I have been expressly open about my Jewish roots all my life, and have been fortunate enough to live in a country that accepts different faiths and ethnicities. The recent developments in both the NUS and Labour Party have suddenly made being Jewish in these circles a stigma; for the first time in my life, I am wary of being seen as Jewish.
Simply speaking out in support of the state of Israel is now seen as an ‘offensive act’ that can get you excluded from a debate; where some even use the Holocaust against Israel itself, citing that Israel is conducting a holocaust on Palestinians, a disgusting comparison declared as anti-semitic by the UN. The same free speech and equality platform which the NUS claims to represent, is being eroded by its own internal leftist militant ideology.
At best, the ignorance of the leftist elite in Labour politics and its junior wing, the student NUS, seems incapable of understanding that being Jewish and supporting Israel are bound up together for most Jews. At worst, criticism of Israel is often a thinly veiled snipe at the Jewish way of life.
After all, this NUS is now an organisation whose leader named ‘a large Jewish population’ as ‘a challenge’ for Birmingham University. In other words, the existence of a community I’m so proud to be a part of is considered a problem.
This breed of politics is rife across campuses, with the ‘pseudo-oppressed minorities’ up in arms about the lack of opportunity, whilst the real victim is becoming the silent majority, a majority that is losing its voice for risk of being lambasted into irrelevance.
The shameful result of this is that students still need a voice. A voice that can hold government to account, a voice that can question chancellors on swathing spending cuts to departments, a voice that is sadly diminishing; a strong, credible, moderate NUS is in the students’ interest.
Not only am I left with a union that will not speak up for me, but a body that actively casts me out. The only way to prevent this vile ideology from spreading is to withdraw from it, hitting this rotten organisation where it will be noted; in the press and in its pocket.