UJS votes to make non-Zionists feel welcome in JSocs

Motion passed on Sunday cited 'patterns of exclusion and abuse' towards those opposed to Zionism


A Flag of Israel on Masada

Members of the Union of Jewish Students have backed calls for the group to take steps to ensure non-Zionists also feel welcome at JSocs.   

A motion passed at the annual UJS conference on Sunday alleges that there have been “patterns of exclusion and abuse towards Jewish students who do not identify as Zionist.” 

It calls for such conduct to be deemed as “emotionally abusive” and for UJS to explicitly reach out to non-Zionist Jewish students on social media.  

It argues that the term Zionism “means many different things to many different people” and has no universal definition.

It also distinguishes UJS’ core value of Israel engagement from “a specific commitment to Zionism.”

It demands “representation on panels and at events for the 40 per cent of Jews in the UK, including many Jewish students, who do not identify themselves as Zionist.”

Warwick Student Toby Kunin told the Jewish News the motion’s central purpose was to ensure all felt welcome. 

He also reportedly said the figure cited in the language was based on a City University paper exploring British Jewish attitudes towards Israel.

A survey published by the university in 2015 found that 31 per cent of British Jews said they were not Zionist, while another 10 per cent reported being unsure.  

The question, which was put to some 1131 British Jews between March and July that year, however noted there were "different opinions about what the term Zionism means.”

Elsewhere, the study also found that 90 per cent supported Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Speaking to the JC, Mr Kunin said it was a "shame so much attention is being paid to one largely unimportant line of the motion rather than the general principle behind it of including marginalized Jewish students, or the many other really important motions passed at what was an incredibly successful UJS Convention."

He mentioned other approved motions on issues ranging from employment rights within the Jewish community to expressing solidarity with China's Uyghurs.

A UJS spokesperson said: “Every year, going back over a hundred years, UJS's democratic procedures enshrine a variety of policies that are student-led and voted on by Jewish students. UJS aims to uphold all policies to the best of our ability and have peer-led structures responsible for holding the president and sabbatical team to account.”

“It is of course challenging to expect people to disclose how they define their relationship to Zionism, or any other identity, ahead of appearing on a panel. UJS is the representative voice of Jewish students, and we are determined to find a way to ensure all Jewish students are welcomed in UJS and Jewish Society spaces.”

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