Round up of Jewish student activism at NUS conference 2018


UJS Stall: As in previous years, UJS ran a stall in the exhibition part of the conference. As well showcasing our work to support J-Socs and Jewish students around the country, delegates who visited the stall were also able to register their interest in the Poland trips that we run for sabbatical officers in partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust. These trips are part of a wider programme combatting campus antisemitism supported by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Fringe: The most well attended fringe for the second year running saw over 150 delegates engaged through a one-man play courtesy of Marlon Solomon titled ‘Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale’. The play addressed the prevalence of conspiracy theories in today’s society, with a focus on antisemitic conspiracy theories. Using a combination of humour and storytelling, Marlon exposed the insidious nature of Jew-hatred and the depressing dismissal of Jewish people's concerns about antisemitism. It is promising and encouraging to see students' eagerness to understand antisemitism, as the huge engagement with our fringe displayed. Our full recap of Fringe can be read here.

Saving lives in solidarity with other ethnic minorities: working again in partnership with Anthony Nolan, over 250 potential life savers have been recruited and there has been an increased awareness about the need for more ethnic minority donors on the bone marrow register. UJS has a longstanding relationship with Anthony Nolan and it is particularly important to increase the amount of ethnic minority donors on the bone marrow register, since patients from white Northern European backgrounds have around a 90% chance of finding a matching donor on the register, but for those of ethnic minority backgrounds – including Jewish people – that chance falls to just 40%.


Bringing Jewish values to conference floor and NUS policy: Esther Offenberg delivered a powerful speech as Jewish students were at the forefront of successful efforts to have NUS exert pressure on the UK government to reopen the scheme linked to the Dubs Amendment to provide support for unaccompanied child refugees.
Election Results: We welcomed the results which saw allies of Jewish students re-elected for NUS full time positions including president Shakira Martin, Vice President for Higher Education, Amatey Doku and NUS Vice President for Further Education, Emily Chapman. Having participated in UJS Programmes here and overseas, we look forward to continuing our strong relationship in the year ahead and we wish all three every success going forward. Our full statement on Shakira’s re-election can be read here.
Jewish students stand up against antisemitism: Rousing speeches were given on conference floor including one from Gabe Milne who made an important statement regarding antisemitism and the dismissing of Jewish peoples concerns in political spaces.

BDS Policy: This week saw a misleading claim that NUS continue to support BDS. Following on from the lapse of the policy at NUS conference, our statement clarified that NUS does not have active national policy in support of BDS, and this was echoed by NUS’ statement to the JC.

NUS announced the final results from NUS conference 2018. Five Jewish students ran for leadership positions within NUS at this year’s conference. We want to recognise all those who stood up as visible and vocal Jewish students engaged with the wider student movement. The results were as follows:
  • Esther Offenberg was successfully elected to serve on NUS Democratic Procedures Committee.
  • Sally Patterson was elected on to the NUS National Executive Council
  • Rabbi Eli Goldsobel was not elected on to the NUS National Executive Council
  • Jess Levy despite a bold campaign lost out to incumbent Ali Milani for the position of NUS Vice President (Union Development)
  • Izzy Lenga, after three years leading and fighting for Jewish students and students of all backgrounds, was sadly not re-elected to serve as NUS Vice President (Welfare)
While several election results did not provide the desired outcome, we can take pride and reassurance in the fact that Jewish students have shown and continue to show a determination not just to fight for Jewish student activism but also for the wider student movement. We’re of course disappointed to see Izzy not continue for a second year as NUS VP (Welfare) but it’s imperative to highlight the outstanding contribution and achievements Izzy has made for students over the past five years. Izzy promised to deliver and did not disappoint by tackling antisemitism and discrimination on campus, securing huge gains for affordable and habitable student housing, and making significant strides in mental health awareness. Our full statement on inspiring Izzy Lenga can be read here.
NUS Conference 2018 has seen Jewish students deliver so much again and continue to be active and vocal within both the context of Judaism and the wider student movement.

About UJS

We are the voice of over 8,500 Jewish students, spanning 60 Jewish Societies (J-Socs) on campuses across the UK and Ireland. We are traditional, progressive, cultural and spiritual; we come from the left, centre and right and can be found across religious and political spectrums.

Together we create and deliver powerful campaigns; fighting prejudice, advancing inclusion, and inspiring education and action on the issues that matter to us. 


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