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Jewish students’ anger over claim that NUS still has BDS policy

Senior NUS officer's claims that BDS is still officially supported by the student organisation are criticised as 'misleading'

    Ilyas Nagdee speaking at the NUS Conference (Photo: YouTube/NUS)

    The Union of Jewish Students has condemned a “mischievous and misleading claim” that the National Union of Students has continued to officially support BDS, despite the NUS allowing the policy to lapse at their conference last month.

    Ilyas Nagdee, the NUS’s black students officer, told an anti-Israel rally in London on Saturday, that “Two weeks ago at national conference our students voted to continue adopting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on the state of Israel for the continuous occupation of Palestine.

    “We voted to stand on the side of justice.”

    A week earlier Mr Nagdee had tweeted: “When conference voted to adopt NUS BSC [Black Students Campaign] and NUS USI [Union of Students in Ireland] policy it voted to keep BDS against Israel as a policy.

    “After news of 15 Palestinians killed and 1500 injured, I’m proud we still have this policy and will defend it every damn day #freePalestine #NUSConference.”

    In 2015, the NUS executive voted to endorse BDS. Policy positions lapse automatically after three years, and have to be renewed. However, no such decision was made at this year’s conference.

    Izzy Lenga, the NUS vice president for welfare and a prominent voice for Jewish students, tweeted: “My favourite point of NUSConference was when it closed because that formally means that NUS no longer has BDS policy #BridgesNotBoycotts.”

    Liron Velleman, campaigns officer for UJS, said: “BDS has never received backing from 700 NUS elected leaders, let alone the seven million students NUS represents. The recently expired NUS national policy to support BDS was debated and decided by a small number of activists within NUS NEC and not by hundreds of delegates at a NUS National Conference.

    “This BDS policy was active for three years from 2015 and lapsed at this year’s NUS National Conference. As part of conference procedure, the work of liberation groups and NUS nations was briefly presented and summarised without any specific mention of BDS or Israel and Palestine. Any liberation, nations or sections group within NUS having a stance in support of BDS does not equate to NUS national policy being in support of BDS.

    “Many thousands of students across the UK are regularly opting for informed and intelligent approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the hate and hostility of the BDS movement. To cite NUS conference procedure as indicating mass support for BDS from millions of students in the UK or even that NUS in its entirety endorses BDS is mischievous and misleading.”

    An NUS spokesperson said: “The National Union of Students voted to adopt Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement policy at National Conference 2015, NUS policy lasts for 3 years and subsequently this year (2018) at National Conference that policy lapsed in Glasgow.

    "Whilst not voted on by delegates in Glasgow, National Conference recognises the policy and campaigns of all zones, Liberation and Nations conferences. BDS remains live in Black Students’ Campaign and for NUS-USI conferences who vote separately and autonomously at their respective democratic conferences.”

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