We should be proud of UJS

By Alistair de Kare-Silver, October 5, 2011
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Much has already been said about the new "Liberation" campaign, but I found Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet's stinging attack particularly disturbing. He claimed that we need "to stop playing the role of victim" and not seen "bending over backwards to appease the oppressor".

His comments were misinformed and naive and I believe he lacks the authority to pontificate on matters of student politics. He's not alone - far too many seem to share a similar view.

The UJS campaign is no different from the line that more than three quarters of Anglo-Jewry endorses – a two state solution as the only credible resolution to the conflict. II struggle to see what he and some other members of the community are finding so repugnant about UJS's efforts. Do they not endorse this?

Strident Israel campaigns on campus with no feasible objectives are meaningless and even harmful

Israel advocacy is a matter of communication. The rabbi seems to me to be unaware that the vast majority of students are apolitical and apathetic.

Because of this we must meet soft activity with soft activity and hard anti Israel activity with hard-hitting campaigns. Campaigns have to involve a tangible goal - strident Israel campaigns on campus with no feasible objectives are meaningless and even harmful.

UJS is a body that the community should be proud of. Its successes, such as the recent repeal of the NUS's anti-Israel motion and its replacement with a much more balanced one, are achieved through the hard work of UJS activists who identify key supporters and build strong relations. Some of those who UJS built up strong relationships with on campuses are now in key decision making positions.

What is needed is for us to stop hyping up the problems that do inevitably arise. Of course bad things happen and antisemitic incidents occur. Unions decide to pass anti-Israel motions but, if you put them into perspective, this occurs relatively rarely.

The community needs to challenge and change the mentality that when Jewish students arrive at university and they face a torrent of aggressive and hostile activity against Israel. We can't afford to be complacent but students should go to university expecting to have an incredible time and feeling excited about the opportunity to engage with the millions of students who are often fascinated to know more about Judaism.

Alistair de Kare-Silver is studying International History and Politics at Leeds University

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Last updated: 3:30pm, October 6 2011