Simon Friend



Wave of pro-Palestinian sit-ins continues

By Simon Friend, February 19, 2009

As the wave of pro-Palestinian sit-ins and demonstrations at 24 campuses around the country recedes, Jewish students are reviewing the situation.

Students at Glasgow, Manchester, LSE, King’s College, Oxford and Cambridge, as well as many others, have refused to budge until their respective university authorities have accepted their demands — mostly comprised of agreeing to set up scholarships for Palestinians, disinvestment in arms companies linked to Israel and the boycotting of Israeli academics and produce.

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Glasgow University sit-in anti-Israel protest

By Simon Friend, February 12, 2009

Earlier this week, around 70 students from Glasgow University organised a sit-in to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza and the involvement of arms manufacturers with the university. The students occupied the computer science building, claiming this department to have major links with the British defence and aerospace company BAE systems.

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University College London’s AGM rescheduled

By Simon Friend, February 12, 2009

After being cancelled because of heavy snow, University College London’s AGM has been rescheduled for a Friday afternoon — February 27. Two motions have been tabled on the Gaza conflict. The Friends of Palestine Society want to “mandate the UCL academic affairs officer to write to the Provost of the university on behalf of the union… condemning Israel’s attacks on Gaza, as well as demanding that old books and computers are sent to universities in Gaza and scholarships offered to Palestinian students”.

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Durham JSoc boycott motion defeated

By Simon Friend, February 12, 2009

After a hard-fought campaign by Durham JSoc, a motion for their union to boycott Israeli goods has been defeated in a university-wide referendum by 726 votes to 525. Initially, the issue was due to be decided at a union council meeting, but the demand for a referendum was so high that all students were given the chance to vote. Durham JSoc, one of the fastest-growing JSocs in the UK, distributed around 4,000 flyers detailing their objections and held an emergency forum to give students the opportunity to debate the issue.

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Students head to Parliament over antisemitism

By Simon Friend, January 30, 2009

This week saw scores of Jewish students head to Parliament to speak to their home and campus MPs about the state of antisemitism in British universities, as well as other general issues of student life.

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Jewish performances at "One World Week"

By Simon Friend, January 30, 2009

As part of Warwick University’s “One World Week”, members of the Jewish Israeli Society performed live in the student union’s World Music Concert alongside the Israeli hip-hop violinist, Miri Ben-Ari.

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NUS sit-in disrupts congress

By Simon Friend, January 22, 2009

A meeting held this week to ratify the latest National Union of Students’ governance and reform structures was disrupted by a sit-in from 20 members of the student National Executive Council as a protest against Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

The interruption followed a week of “Stop the War” rallying on many university campuses around the country. The meeting, held at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, was attended by 500 students. Up to 100 walked out following the protest and many of those remaining turned their backs on the demonstrators.

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‘Apartheid wall’ splits LSE campus

By Simon Friend, November 27, 2008

Members of the Palestine Society at London School of Economics have erected an "apartheid wall" in the centre of the university's campus as a protest against Israel's barriers along the borders of the West Bank and Gaza.

The "Writing on the Wall" event, aimed at showing that "the Israeli occupation systematically denies the right of education to Palestinians" was part of a national event headed by ActionPalestine, a UK-wide student-led body promoting the Palestinian cause.

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Nominations have opened for the chair of the Union of Jewish Students

By Simon Friend, November 21, 2008

Nominations have opened for the chair of the Union of Jewish Students. Campaigning began on November 18 and continues for a week before the candidates' road show arrives in Scotland for the first leg of the annual tour.

Canvassing around the major campuses over the years has become innovative, with last year's election featuring sophisticated websites, YouTube videos, interviews and podcasts. This year's election, with more locations than ever before, will be no less hotly contested.

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Antisemitism on campus discussed at Nottingham

By Simon Friend, November 21, 2008

The chair of the All-Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, John Mann MP, with Yair Zivan, campaigns director of the Union of Jewish Students, tackled contemporary antisemitism on campus this week in a panel discussion at Nottingham University.

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Bristol J-Soc's campus-wide variety show

By Simon Friend, November 21, 2008

What began as a small fundraising event run exclusively for Bristol J-Soc turned into a campus-wide variety show attended by more than 300 students.

Spotlight Darfur, with the help of the student branch of the Aegis Trust - Britain's leading NGO campaigning against genocide - became the society's most successful function.

A range of performing arts' societies attached themselves to the event, which showcased acts such as cabaret and pantomime, live jazz and improvised comedy.

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It’s a different world down on the farm

By Simon Friend, November 20, 2008

Kentish Town City Farm might not seem the most obvious venue for Jewish workers. But that was not the case on Mitzvah Day as many joined an ethnically diverse group of volunteers who came to clean and refurbish the educational facility, visited by children with special needs, or from socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

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British students go to Brussels as delegates of UJS for Kristallnacht commemoration

By Simon Friend, November 13, 2008

Two British students went to Brussels this week as delegates of UJS for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Aaron Kienwald, president of London J-Socs; and Aaron Collins, of Bristol University Jewish Society, joined 20 other members of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) at a service which filled the Brussels Great Synagogue.

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Europe's first OneVoice university chapter at Glasgow University

By Simon Friend, November 13, 2008

Europe's first OneVoice university chapter, at Glasgow University, was this week host to the start of a tour of British campuses by Ana Lipnik and Abeer Natsheh, Israeli and Palestinian youth leaders who are just two of the 1,800 OneVoice representatives worldwide.

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"From Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip" event held at Goldsmiths

By Simon Friend, November 13, 2008

An event held this week at Goldsmith's University entitled: "From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip", follows the Palestine twinning campaign's success last year in pairing the university with Al-Quds University in the West Bank. Speaking at the event was Suzanne Weiss, a Holocaust survivor and member of a Toronto-based group, Not in our Name: Jews against Zionism, who claimed that Israel "uses many of the methods of Nazism to oppress the Palestinians".

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Meeting over Leeds residence met with student anger

By Simon Friend, October 23, 2008

A meeting held this week on the future of the residential Hillel House in Leeds was met with some anger from students from Leeds Metropolitan University. The meeting, chaired by Daniel Marcus, chief executive of UJS Hillel, revealed plans to accommodate Jewish students from Leeds Uni in new digs seconds from the original Hillel House, which will continue to serve kosher food. Plans for students from the Met are not finalised, which worried some.

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The Hebrew University has jumped up 35 places in world rankings

By Simon Friend, October 23, 2008

The Hebrew University has jumped up 35 places since last year in the rankings of the best universities in the world and is now number 93 on The Times Higher Education Survey. Social-science faculties at Tel Aviv and Hebrew universities won spots in the top 60.

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University of St Andrews has the largest J-Soc north of Leeds

By Simon Friend, October 23, 2008

The University of St Andrews has a record 120 Jewish Society members this year, making it the largest J-Soc north of Leeds. "This is an extremely proud achievement as the university only has 7,200 students," says Hayden Krasner, president of the society. Jewish students in Scotland have usually preferred Edinburgh or Glasgow, but due to its growing popularity, St Andrews has now been placed on the Chaplaincy Succah trail and has enough regulars to warrant J-Soc staples such as Shabbat meals and bagel brunches.

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Imperial College student 'trapped' within Gaza

By Simon Friend, October 17, 2008

Emblazoned on the front cover of this week's issue of Felix, the Imperial College London student newspaper, is the story of Zohair Abu Shaban, an electrical-engineering graduate from Gaza University who is, apparently, unable to accept his place at Imperial College for a masters degree owing to being "trapped" within Gaza by an Israeli border patrol.

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Shocking Orthodox late night internet searching

By Simon Friend, October 17, 2008

This week, a religious student at Bar Ilan University, after being struck with a bout of insomnia, ventured to the halls of residence's computer cluster in the early hours of the morning to discover strictly Orthodox men browsing the internet's more questionable material.

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