Securing 682 first preference votes from the 1049 cast to win without requiring any further rounds in the AV system used by UJS, Josh Holt has decisively won the election to become the next UJS President.
Josh campaigned on a platform to empower Jewish students to be loud and proud of their identities on campus, and expand and improve how UJS and J-Socs bring being cross-communal to life. Recognising we can’t be all things, to all students, all of the time, Josh intends to launch a series of networks that will offer opportunities based on particular identities and interests.
Thrilled and more than a little overwhelmed by his victory, Josh said: ‘Jewish student democracy is both strong and vibrant and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the other candidates for their participation in this process, sharing their visions for our movement. Despite the diversity of our views we were able to conduct this election in an amicable and respectful way, and this only holds testament to the strength of our democracy.
I would like to say how honoured I am to have been elected as UJS president, and I cannot wait to begin enacting my manifesto pledges, ensuring as many Jewish students as possible receive the support they need to make our life on campus the best it can be. These elections have undeniably flagged up issues within the current system, and I look forward to addressing these moving forwards, focusing on our diversity as a strength, and the value of pride in our identity. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me and shared in this vision for our union, and also to the current president, Josh Seitler, for all the work he has done so far.’
During the campaign, one of Josh’s rivals Adam Schapira launched a bold bid to raise £100,000 to support work with Syrian refugees. Following the overwhelming support for a motion UJS Conference to mobiles Jewish students to do more than they are already on this issue, it is expected that, despite Adam not winning the election, and both Josh Seitler and Josh Holt will take on this particular campaign pledge.
This UJS election, as well as the highest attended UJS Conference for many years, generated a huge amount of discussion and debate. Jewish students have shown themselves to be thoughtfully engaged in pressing matters affecting Jewish life on campus, yet just as involved with the important issues of British and wider society.
Reflecting on some of the more heated discussions, particular on Israel, current UJS President Josh Seitler, as well as celebrating the maturity and depth of the student conversation compared with some of the broader commentary, also said:
‘We should not mistake majority mandated campaign positions for parameters that limit thoughtful exchanges of ideas and education within J-Socs and UJS. Consistently and overwhelmingly Jewish students have voted to combat BDS and attempts to demonise and delegitimise the State of Israel. Repeatedly they have also endorsed Two States for Two Peoples. Our campaigns represent those positions, yet our campus communities can contain conversations that stretch well beyond them.
It shouldn’t need stating, but the derision and disrespect from some quarters have made it so; there is space for the religious Zionist who doesn’t want to divide Jerusalem or relinquish Judea and Samaria, there is room at the Friday Night dinner table for the non-Zionist who’s Jewish identity is spiritual and ambivalent about Israel, and there is a place for the internationalist opposed to all borders, nation states and by extension Zionism, and many more political and philosophical views in between.’
Josh still has six months to continue delivering on his manifesto and mandate from last year’s election involving over 1100 students.
For now, we’ll let Josh get on with completing his studies, and in the meantime we will set about enacting some of the important policy passed at UJS Conference, including developing UJS’ work on Holocaust education, making Jewish campus activities more accessible, increasing the amount of social action work undertaken by UJS, furthering UJS’ work on training Labour Clubs on antisemitism and supporting smaller J-Socs in accessing Kosher food more easily. See all the motions that passed at UJS Conference here.