J-Soc supports CUSU disaffiliation from NUS

Ian Johnston 27 April 2016

J-Soc has announced in a statement their support for CUSU's disaffiliation from NUS. 

Cambridge University Jewish Society (CUJS) has declared its support for a referendum to be held on CUSU membership of NUS. A statement released yesterday evening reads:

"Cambridge University Jewish Society has passed a motion in support of a CUSU referendum regarding disaffiliation with the NUS. In light of the election of Malia Bouattia, whose rhetoric has disturbed many of our members, a referendum will allow Cambridge University students to decide whether they wish to be represented by the NUS."

The statement comes following a CUJS meeting attended by 40 students. They debated and passed two motions. The first read “CUJS would officially adopt a position of support for a CUSU referendum leaving the NUS, allowing for the possibility of re-affiliating at a later date”, and was supported by 85% of those present. The second: "If such a referendum is facilitated by CUSU, CUJS would back CUSU disaffiliating itself with the NUS", passed with 64% of the vote.  

At the heart of the issue is Bouattia’s alleged use of anti-Semitic language. The former Birmingham University student’s ‘disturbing’ rhetoric has caused widespread controversy, following her election as President of NUS last week. In the past, the she has described Birmingham University as a "Zionist outpost in higher education" because it has "the largest J-Soc in the country."

Bouattia claims that she has never explicitly expressed anti-Semitic views. However, the former NUS Black Student’s work has suggested an awareness of the dangers of ambiguous rhetoric. In a recent meeting, she opposed an NUS motion condemning ISIS. She claimed that the rhetoric used was "Islamophobic" and "exacerbated the issue at hand."

The statement by Cambridge J-Soc has been warmly welcomed by the campaign group NUS: Let Cambridge Decide:

“NUS: Let Cambridge Decide is thrilled that the Cambridge University Jewish Society has decided to support our motion to CUSU Council for a referendum on disaffiliating from the NUS. Our campaign is centred on a rejection of anti-Semitic rhetoric and a firm belief that the NUS is failing in its objective to be a 'leading exemplar of equality and diversity.

We will strive to work alongside Jewish students and ensure their experience at the University of Cambridge is as comfortable as possible. We hope that JCR Presidents will work alongside us to let Cambridge decide whether or not remain a part of the NUS in light of recent developments.”
The group has repeatedly criticised Bouattia’s election, calling it "a horrifying message to Jewish students in the UK." 

 However, the motion results show that support for disaffiliation from the NUS is not unanimous among the Jewish student community. Appearing recently on Daily Politics, CUJS member Jonty Leibowitz stated:

"I don’t think that disaffiliation is the right option. Malia has won an election. There are loads of things Jewish students want to work with Malia on and we want to talk with Malia about them."