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The NUS Should Be Ashamed of Their 'Israel Boycott'

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It is with great disappointment to note that the National Union of Students' Executive Council voted to join the call of the BDS movement - demanding sanctions against the State of Israel, and attempting to intimidate student unions across the UK to adopt 'Boycotts' and 'Divestment' on their campuses.

If anyone stands for the welfare of all students on campus, they should condemn this petty and divisive action in the strongest terms.

I have said this time and again - successful campus attempts to 'boycott' Israel always end in the same disturbing results. A motion to boycott Israel effectively tells Israeli students that they are not welcome on campus, simply because of their nationality. It creates a poisonous and divisive atmosphere - which can make Jewish students in particular feel very uncomfortable.

Perhaps the NUS have forgotten the storm BDS caused at King's College London - in which certain elected SU representatives brought Jewish students to tears. I will never forget these words written by one Jewish student;

''When being pro-Israel is supposedly a crime, it is the Jewish population that are the easy targets. Walking across campus can be agony when you are looked upon as an 'apologist for apartheid.''

There have apparently been reports of Jewish students being bullied in the run-up to this vote - and it is no secret that the BDS movement fosters a culture of apologism (and promotion) for anti-Semitic discourse.

The motion's supporters will defend themselves. 'The only racism is Zionism!' 'How can we be anti-Semitic when some of the motion's proposers were Jewish themselves?'

These zealots can bandy about these standard talking points as much as they like - but they should also seriously consider the consequences of their actions...

The totalitarian demand to force Jewish students to boycott half of the Jewish world - to force many Jewish students to severe what is undeniably a crucial component of the personal identities- is effectively targeting a specific ethnic minority to 'conform' to a political agenda. That's discrimination in a nutshell.

And what did the motion attempt to achieve? BDS is not conducive to the peace process. The movement formally oppose a two-state solution and its aims have even been publicly opposed by the President of the Palestinian Authority. This symbolic vote did not intend to further peace. It intended to divide and provoke.

Peace isn't achieved by cancelling a few contracts for water coolers. Peace in the Middle East is only facilitated by the cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis which the BDS movement actively seeks to shut down.

The motion's supporters can talk of the undoubted tragedy of the conflict - but they don't advance anything constructive to end it.

What is perhaps more disturbing than the adoption of BDS is that 20 members of the executive voted against NUS' longstanding policy of support for the two-state solution - in effect, they voted to express disapproval with the State of Israel's very existence.

A host of student organisations have therefore condemned this extreme motion - which should be overturned at the earliest opportunity. When some NUS representatives are on the same page as the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is definitely something wrong.

There is one final observation to be made - something which cannot be ignored. This vote - deliberately held at short notice - was most likely timed to coincide with the eve of one of Judaism's most solemn days of the year, the ninth of Av.

This is a day which commemorates the multitude of tragedies which have befallen Jews in their 4,000 year old history. For many Jewish students, the result of this vote has brought yet another tinge of sadness to what would have still been a very sorrowful 24 hours.