By Marcus Dysch
December 10, 2009
A couple of weeks ago we ran this preview of the Union of Jewish Students’ chair elections.
My prediction, that Alex Dwek would land the top job in Jewish student politics, came true. Mazeltov to Alex.
Much like Rupert Murdoch, JC On Campus likes to back a winner.
Alex's victory followed an impressive campaign in which he promised an open and innovative UJS. He was heavily supported by students across the country. Of course it helped that he studies in Manchester and could call on one of the biggest Jewish student communities to back him, but still, he appeared all along as the most likely of the three candidates to snatch the crown.
As we suggested, Adam Parker, studying at Oxford, had big ideas but lacked grassroots support. And Paloma Sackman did run Alex close, missing out only after the counting of the second preference votes.
During the election campaign’s final week I spent a few days in Manchester and met a number of students who were supporting Alex. But, somewhat bizarrely, many told me they had studied the runners and riders’ form in the JC On Campus piece, and then based their voting decisions partly on our predictions.
So, was it a case of it being the JC wot won it? Did our ‘expert’ analysis really swing so many voters?
My guess is no. As with all democratic elections the candidates appealed to their supporters and the one with the most supporters won. Simple. If JC On Campus had predicted Adam would win, would he have done? With respect to Adam probably not, he obviously lacked the necessary support.
But this was not just a matter of a ‘home win’ for Alex. He beat at least one of the other candidates on their own turf, and despite needing the second preferences to be counted, vote-for-vote he simply had the most support.
With victory comes the challenge of leading one of the most important Jewish organisations in the country. More often than not UJS finds itself on the frontline defending Israel and Jews in this country. We need look back only to January and February to see the reaction on campuses during the Gaza conflict.
It is not an easy job. If you are not standing up to the haters then you are more than likely getting it in the neck from your ‘own side’. Certainly the current UJS administration has its critics.
Alex will need a good, strong, united team around him when he takes the reins in July 2010. He could do a lot worse than offer his defeated candidates roles in his team (should they want them, of course).
But for now we’ll allow him to bask in the glory of winning a role which, if handled correctly, can lead to a successful career in mainstream politics, Israel advocacy and charity work.
Meanwhile, feel free to call me Rupert...