UJS: I'm proud we tackled Islamic group at NUS

By Carly McKenzie, April 22, 2010

The primary aim of the Union of Jewish Students is to maintain the welfare of our students and uphold Jewish values on campus. At the NUS conference, this is no different.

While it is tempting and easy to belittle the very real politics of NUS, it is integral that the efforts of Jewish students who attended Conference - as delegates and volunteers - be applauded.

Our record at this year's NUS Conference included:

● Combating a broad Left attempt to re-affiliate with the Stop the War Coalition. We won.

● Adoption of comprehensive hate speech guidelines, despite considerable opposition. We won.

The session with FOSIS was not a misguided attempt at interfaith

● The reaffirmation of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia definition on antisemitism. Again, we won.

Politicking at NUS requires a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. While there are armchair critics who persistently downplay and undermine our good work, I am confident in the training and the results afforded by our engagement with NUS.

UJS organised a groundbreaking fringe event, attended by more than 200 delegates.

Our chair, Adam Pike, Rashad Ali from the Counter Extremism Consultancy for Training Research & Interventions (CENTRI) and Demos's Jamie Bartlett all participated, along with a representative from the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS). Outgoing NUS president Wes Streeting was in the chair.

The session, Hate Speech and Freedom of Expression, was not a misguided attempt at interfaith, nor was it appeasement. This was the first time that Jewish and non-Jewish students had the chance to grill, question and debate the intentions and effects of the FOSIS programme of hate speakers with the group's leadership.

Under UJS's leadership, FOSIS has been forced out into the open. NUS is under no illusions as to the seriousness of the daily issues we face with FOSIS.

As conference closed, it was with sadness that I listened to my friend and colleague Wes Streeting's leaving speech. It has been a long time since we have seen someone from outside our community take such personal responsibility for the welfare of Jewish students.

We are sure president-elect Aaron Porter will continue in the same vein as Wes. I am proud of our record with NUS. I am proud of the regional, religious and political diversity in UJS campaigns.

There is no other organisation which has produced such outstanding results for Jewish students, and I call on every engaged student to get involved with our campaigns.

Carly is UJS Campaigns Director

Last updated: 11:22am, September 21 2010