UJS presidential election: the candidates set our their policies

Voting is under way in the UJS presidential election. Here, the three candidates set out their policies


What are your priorities as a candidate?

Josh Holt
I have benefited enormously from the amazing opportunities UJS has to offer and I would like to see more Jewish students engage and benefit in the way I have.

As a candidate, my priorities are engaging students who feel as if they do not have a place in our union. It is great that UJS events have both traditional and progressive services, and that the catering is kosher. However, this is not enough to engage Orthodox and Progressive students to their full potential. I want to build a union that is as welcoming as possible to all types of Jewish student, without neglecting those we have already engaged.

Adam Schapira
I am standing on a platform to create a UJS that is more ambitious, dynamic and engaged with the crucial issues we face today. My campaign rests on four key issues:

1. We need strong leadership to counter the whirlwind of hate faced on so many university campuses. I will end the sustained delegitimisation campaign on so many university campuses against the sole Jewish and democratic state.

Meet the runners

Josh Holt, a 21-year-old from Radlett, Hertfordshire, is studying international relations at Nottingham University. He has served as a UJS representative on the Board of Deputies.
Israel-born Eran Cohen is a biology undergraduate at York University and a pro-boycott activist. He is a former BDS officer for the campus Palestinian Solidarity Society.
Adam Schapira, from Chigwell, Essex, studies philosophy at University College London, where he was Jewish Society president last year.
Voting continues until December 9, with the result announced at UJS conference two days later.

2. Jewish students must engage with the global issues of our time. As president, I will commit to raising £100,000 to support the humanitarian relief efforts surrounding the Syrian refugee crisis.

3. I will mandate UJS to run a bespoke Women in Jewish leadership programme. It is time we end the systematic gender inequality that exists within our community.

4. I will empower Jewish societies, by providing a significant upfront annual grant, giving Jsocs more autonomy, leading to better events and freeing UJS sabbatical officers and JSoc committee members from endless bureaucracy.

Eran Cohen
I'm standing because alternative and left-wing Jewish students are constantly excluded from their JSocs and the UJS, and attempts to fix that from the UJS officers over the years have come to nothing. I am not standing for myself alone, but for all the Jewish students who have been made to feel like they have no place in the community.

What's the most important issue facing UJS and how would you deal with it?

Josh Holt
As far as I see it, not enough Jewish students feel UJS can do something for them. I want to change this by increasing the variety of services UJS can offer, using peer-led networks to provide specialised opportunities to Jewish students.

Adam Schapira
The wave of unjustified anti-Israel rhetoric and the attempt to consistently shut down free speech on Israel is certainly the main concern for many Jewish students. To succeed in reversing this concerning trend, we need strong leadership and a president that can utilise the networks available to make our case in the national media: whether on radio, TV, or in mainstream newspapers, we need a president that can effectively communicate and articulate our message.

And our message is one of peace, dialogue and discussion. A message that says that, despite the many differing views within the Jewish community, we can stand united with an unwavering commitment to two states for two peoples, a condemnation of all terrorism, and the hope that Palestinians and Israelis can one day live side-by-side in peace and equal dignity.

As president, I will take a hard line against the voices of hate but never waver in my commitment to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Eran Cohen
As students, we face a lot of the same issues as the wider student movement - the threat of the cap on university fees being lifted altogether, Brexit and its implications for those of us who are not British, as well as the wider social implications.

As Jewish students, we face the worrying rise of racism and xenophobia that have been empowered by Brexit, Donald Trump and various alt-right commentators.

What's your view on UJS's relationship with the National Union of Students and its president Malia Bouattia, who has been criticised over antisemitic comments?

Josh Holt
To my mind, it is abundantly clear that Malia has no interest in addressing the concerns of Jewish students, or in representing those she does not agree with politically, and in this respect I do not see how UJS can work with her.

However, there is more to NUS than just Malia, and I believe UJS should continue working with allies in the movement to improve the Jewish experience on campus wherever possible.

Adam Schapira
I would immediately call a referendum evaluating our future relationship with NUS.

Should students wish to remain loosely affiliated, I would demand an apology from Malia Bouattia and apply significant pressure on the NUS as a whole to take the concerns of Jewish students seriously. This includes tackling the BDS movement, the rise of antisemitism and unjustified anti-Israel hate on campus.

I stand by a previous statement I made in the JC, where I labelled Malia as unfit to serve as NUS president.

Eran Cohen
If we were to start disaffiliating every time a leader we don't like (or a leader who doesn't like us) gets power then I'd argue there's a strong case for UJS disaffiliation from Israel on the basis of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's explicitly racist regime.

After the violent scenes at King's College and UCL involving anti-Israel protesters, what needs to happen to ensure the safety of Jewish students on campus?

Josh Holt
Jewish students should not be fearful about hosting speakers who have been approved by their student union. This would not be deemed acceptable for any other group and so neither should it be for us.

Campus security and student unions need to fully appreciate the potential for violence and disruption that events featuring pro-Israel speakers face, putting in place the necessary measures such as ensuring there are sufficient security personnel and finding appropriate rooms before the event.

University is a place for open debate and discussion, and it is a gross injustice to deny Jewish students this experience on account of security or spatial mismanagement.

Adam Schapira
I was at the event at UCL (when police were called after anti-Israel protesters disrupted a talk by a former IDF officer). I have never seen anything as horrific or disturbing as I witnessed then. When Jewish students in 21st-century Britain are escorted by police out of a university lecture room to the chants of "shame, shame, shame", we know we have a serious problem with antisemitic anti-Zionism.

Such acts must never be tolerated. Jewish students cannot and must not feel intimidated.

We must work directly with the heads of the universities, the minister for higher education, government leaders, the wider Jewish community and all stakeholders involved to ensure this never happens again.

1. I will commission a much wider enquiry into the nature of these protests on campus.

2. I will make sure security is significantly expanded.

3. I will ensure that those students implicated in intimidating Jewish students are rightfully disciplined.

4. Where acts of violence occur, criminal proceedings must follow.

The safety of Jewish students on campus is my number one priority.

Eran Cohen
We need to train students in self-defence and organise them into independent anti-fascist cadres able to work together and alone to effectively combat racism and xenophobia on campuses. I'm serious.

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