NUS president subjected to antisemitic abuse

By Marcus Dysch, January 31, 2011
Aaron Porter

Aaron Porter

The president of the National Union of Students (NUS) was the target of antisemitic abuse as he attempted to speak at a student fees protest.

Aaron Porter, who is not Jewish, was escorted away from the demonstration in Manchester last Saturday as protesters chanted “Tory Jew scum”.

The Union of Jewish Students has condemned the abuse, which is thought to have been started by a group of five to 10 protesters before others joined in.

Mr Porter is due to travel to Israel this week on a fact-finding mission. He is expected to spend time in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem meeting Jewish students and representatives of groups such as OneVoice, which works with young Israelis and Palestinians. He will also travel to the West Bank.

Writing in The Times on Monday, Mr Porter explained Saturday's incident: “Before I was able to speak to the rally of thousands a small group of people started to chant abuse to try to intimidate me, and there were audible antisemitic comments.

“Racism is something that student activists have been fighting to eliminate for decades and this was a sobering reminder that there is still work to do.”

In a statement, UJS said it was “outraged” by the antisemitic abuse.
“Legitimate criticism and debate are an important part of NUS, but abuse such as ‘Jew scum’ has no place in our student movement.

“At a time when students should be united in defence of higher education, this harmful discourse does nothing but divide us.

“This incident is a sad reminder of the importance of NUS' policies against racism and discrimination, including its No Platform policy. It also highlights the worrying trend towards acceptability of antisemitic discourse across the political spectrum.”

Police arrested 20 people for public order offences following the protest.

Last updated: 2:02pm, February 2 2011