Jewish students get ahead at NUS conference

By Charlotte Oliver, April 15, 2014

Jewish students made their mark at this year's National Union of Students (NUS) conference, held last week in Liverpool, with a variety of activities that worked to strengthen the Jewish contribution to mainstream life on campus.

The Union of Jewish Students helped spread the message by running a stall across the three-day event, which offered passersby information about Jewish culture, as well as hosting a Q+A session with Holocaust survivor Hannah Lewis.

More than 150 people from student unions across the country attended the event - entitled "NUS will never forget" - which was organised to encourage Holocaust commemoration on campus in the lead up the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz next year.

Ms Lewis, 77, spoke about her experiences as a child prisoner at the Sobibor Death Camp in Poland, and the ongoing importance of combating antisemitism and Holocaust denial around the world.

She said: "Arm yourself with knowledge and be dignified, because the bullies who seek to harm you are never dignified."

According to UJS, the event served both to commemorate the Holocaust and to remind students of the need "to remain vigilant in their fight against racism on campus."

Over 1,000 student union delegates took part in the three-day conference, which sets the agenda for student politics over the forthcoming year.

On Thursday, the motion "Justice for Palestine", which called on the union to boycott Israel as part of its broader aim to defend the rights of Palestinians to education, was deferred to the next National Executive Council meeting.

A UJS spokesperson said the motion was shelved to a later date "after the majority of conference agreed there were more pressing and relevant concerns for UK students to discuss."

As part of the week's proceedings, delegates also unanimously agreed that a definition of antisemitism be added to the union's written legislation - a move that, according to UJS campaigns director Maggie Suissa, "protects the rights of minority groups to define for themselves when they have been victims of a hate crime."

Last updated: 7:30pm, April 15 2014