Like many things in 2020, this year’s UJS conference was completely transformed to allow democracy, voting and debating of UJS policy to continue. Moving conference online could have been a challenge, but out of that adversity we saw students signing up in droves to engage in what the future of our Union looks like. This virtual conference saw over 50 motions submitted and with over a hundred students, from all over the UK and abroad, taking part. Conference is an opportunity for every Jewish student to have their say and guide the work of UJS moving into the future. Not every motion could be discussed, not every motion passed, but every Jewish student was given an opportunity to join the conversation.
The 2020 conference also saw Nina Freedman announced as the winner of the elections to be UJS President for 2021-22, with 54% majority after four rounds. Nina will take over in June 2021 from her predecessor, President James Harris, and her team will have plenty to put into practice after another dynamic year of UJS Conference as students shaped their union.
UJS is pleased say that this year, Conference saw motions such as reaffirming our commitment to fighting all forms of antisemitism, mandating UJS to be lobbying universities to improve their disciplinary processes, committing UJS to a zero-tolerance policy of transphobia and expressing solidarity with refugee and asylum-seeking communities, which was passed overwhelmingly by delegates. We also saw the passing of motions mandating UJS to be more inclusive to those students in all four nations of the United Kingdom as well as a motion committing UJS to provide an effective mental health support system. Both of these motions will seek to providing a far more accessible and inclusive environment for all Jewish students.
UJS policy is made up of motions passed at the previous three conferences. Last year’s conference saw motions such as CA3 Promoting better relationships between J-Socs and their Students' Unions; mandating UJS to help foster deeper relationships between local J-Socs and their Student Unions. CA4 Love Thy Neighbour: Tackling Antisemitism and Islamophobia Together; committing to tackling Antisemitism and Islamophobia together. And CA6 Opposing BDS in all its forms, which passed unanimously through conference floor. To see all current policy, please see the links below.
Sadly, antisemitism is a main feature of many motions which highlights the trend of rising antisemitism on UK campuses. At previous conferences, Jewish students voted overwhelmingly to reaffirm our adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, campaign in collaboration with J-Socs for Students’ Unions and Universities to adopt the IHRA definition, ensure the IHRA definition of antisemitism is not used to shut down legitimate criticism of the Israeli government and adopt the position that the IHRA definition is not complete without all its examples.
Lastly, much of UJS current policy relates to our core value of Israel engagement. UJS will proudly continue to advocate for a Two State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, carry on working with groups in Israel and the Palestinian Territories which support the two-state solution on trips, and reaffirm our opposition to BDS.
Despite differences and sometimes divisions exist within our union, we will always strive to represent all Jewish students across the UK and Ireland in line with our core values.