Candidate to lead UJS is boycott activist


One of the three candidates running for president of the Union of Jewish Students has a history of pro-boycott activism, it has emerged.

Eran Cohen, a biology undergradute at York University, was the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions officer for the campus Palestinian Solidarity Society, and has openly called for a boycott of Israel, as well as promoting "Palestinian Apartheid Week" at the university.

In February of this year he co-produced and acted in the society's production of Seven Jewish Children, a play which has been described as antisemitic in its depiction of Israel.

In a previous Facebook discussion, he declared his support for the BDS movement, saying: "I support it because I believe it will bring about a secular state for all its citizens from the river to the sea. Some people equate that with the destruction of Israel. I don't."

In a statement released this week, Mr Cohen, who grew up in Israel, said: "I am a diasporist - I believe the focus of Jewish life is wherever Jews live, and excessive focus on Israel damages the UK Jewish community.

We feel alienated from JSocs and the UJS

"There are many left-wing Jewish students, both Zionist and not, who support my campaign."

In a second statement, he confirmed he "supports BDS as a nonviolent tool to affect change", adding: "I personally would like to see UJS engaging in all nonviolent methods that will bring about peace in the region."

He explained that he was standing because he and other students felt "alienated from our communities, the JSocs and UJS. We're fed up of abuse and isolation, so we decided to finally try to get some representation."

Mr Cohen said he was backed by members of Jewdas, a left-wing Jewish activist group, and had secured more than the minimum 10 nominations necessary to stand as a candidate.

In a statement UJS said: "Our students have nominated three very different candidates for the UJS presidency. "

The union could not speculate "on the merits of any particular outcome" , it said.

UJS also confirmed that it had instituted a "manual registration system" for would-be membership applicants, designed "to prevent fraudulent accounts being created during the election period". Voting opens on Monday and continues until December 9.

In an article on the union's website, current president Josh Seitler urged members to "make sure that you elect a UJS president to represent you and your passions, values and identities".

The two other candidates standing in the election are Joshua Holt of Nottingham University and Adam Schapira, a student at University College London. UJS rules would not let them comment until campaigning officially begins next week.

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