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Mental health, kosher food and combatting antisemitism: UJS presidential candidates present their manifestos

The contenders lay out their vision for the Union of Jewish Students

    Voting for the presidential election of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) commenced this morning, with all three candidates releasing videos and two out of the three publishing their manifestos.

    Hannah Rose and Annie Cohen have both set out their platforms outlining their vision for UJS, which represents 8,500 Jewish students in the UK and Ireland. Lawrence Rosenberg, the third candidate, is due to release his manifesto tomorrow.

    In her campaign video, Ms Rose, a fourth year student at Bristol university and former vice president of the Jsoc there, said that “UJS isn’t just about the 150 students on Jsoc committees, or the 300 students who are involved in Israel campaigns, it’s about all 8,500 of us, and what we can achieve when we’re united”. She also described how she “had “stood up and spoken against divisive Israel boycotts at my union.”

    Her manifesto commitments include delivering mental health first aid training for Jsoc committees, working with the NUS to include kosher food suppliers on the NUS discount card, and producing guidance and training for universities and student unions on tackling antisemitism.

    Annie Cohen, who describes herself as a “Jewish, non-zionist, antifascist, socialist” is an “activist and community organiser with a group called Jewdas”. Jewdas is a far-left group, which describes itself as "non-Zionist".

    Her video does not outline her manifesto, but is made up of footage of one of the organisation’s “Birthwrong” trips to Europe, a parody of Birthright trips to Israel. One of the participants on the tour, as the video shows, is Max Blumenthal, the American anti-Zionist who has in the past compared Israel to both ISIS and Nazi Germany. More recently, he has become infamous for his denial of genocide and war crimes by the Assad regime in Syria. Ms Cohen has made it clear that she does not agree with Mr Blumenthal's views on Nazism, ISIS, or Assad. 

    Ms Cohen’s “Anniefesto”, includes the aim of adding “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” to UJS’s list of partner organisations, saying that “as a Jewish Palestine solidarity activist who has herself experienced antisemitism on campus and in left wing orgs, Annie is well placed to mediate between JSocs and Palsocs.”

    Her other aims include “raising awareness of and raising money for the UJS hardship fund”, which helps vulnerable Jewish students, as well as to “help JSocs reach out to all Jewish students, or help students create alternative Jsocs where needed”.

    Lawrence Rosenberg’s video emphasises his previous role as president of the Manchester Jsoc, saying that he “fought against the vicious rhetoric of the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions… and [was] honoured to be able to bring kosher food to my [Jewish student] community [at the university] for the very first time.

    “We need a president who has a record of fighting for students and making a real difference whilst building relationships”.

    Campaign pledges from Mr Rosenberg include "rebuilding relationships with key university staff and students from across the country”, as well as for UJS to play a much more active role for students prior to university, going into schools and “helping [school] students understand the realities of university life”.

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