After many years UJS Conference 2019 returned to Leeds, with an attendance of over 100 saw James Harris voted in as UJS President 2020-2021. After a very exciting dual election, James came out on top by 361 votes and will step into office taking over from Esther Offenberg in June 2020.
UJS is excited to welcome James Harris and look forward to him implementing key points from his manifesto which include:
- Lobby Universities and Students’ Unions to create a genuine Zero Tolerance policy that is fit for purpose, including the IHRA definition and all its examples
- Allow Jewish students to explore their relationship with the Jewish state, uniting in the fight against BDS and the delegitimization of Israel.
- Liberation is such an important aspect of UJS’s work and the organisation should seek to empower women, LGBT+, disabled, and other marginalised Jewish students.
UJS are looking forward to working with James Harris in 2020. Also a big shout out to Etan for putting together a very well run campaign and wish him all the best going forward and his future endeavours.
Alongside the Presidential election, a number of motions were discussed, passed and failed. In particular UJS is pleased say that motions such as CA3 Promoting better relationships between J-Socs and their Students' Unions; UJS is mandated 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.
Alongside the engaging election, we also had the pleasure to hear from speakers such as Erica Ramos, the Vice_President (Union Development) at NUS who spoke about how working with Jewish students and UJS is one of the best parts of her job and discussed the importance of tackling Antisemitism in Universities. "Though certain antisemitic incidents such as white T-shirt parties are not the fault of Student Unions, they are their responsibility"
UJS also was pleased and proud to welcome Lord John Mann, former labour MP and now serves as independent advisor to the Government on Antisemitism. He spoke openly and passionately to an audience of students about antisemitism and the fight against it. “The reason that I accepted your kind invitation, is that this is your time to ensure your organization is having the influence that the Jewish Community and this country needs you to have." His talk focused around IHRA and the importance for universities to adopt the definition, "Every single University in every Western democracy needs to sign up the IHRA definition, as its working definition for dealing with antisemitism on its campus. We need every university to sign. This gives you as an organization and individuals the power to hold people accountable for antisemitism whether its calculated, deliberate, brutal, malicious or whether its ignorance, wherever it comes from, and expect something to be done."