I am looking to clarify some issues me and many others have after your recent vote that endorses BDS as an official NUS tactic.
Now that the NUS have chosen to adopt boycotts of Israel, what does that mean for me, as someone with strong and proud Israeli roots and ties? Many issues are still unclear; Is my Jewish society allowed to wave an Israeli flag? Can we read prayers for the state of Israel at Jewish Society events? Are we allowed Israeli books and food on campus? As far as I’m concerned, my views are no longer welcome on campus, and I and thousands of other students will be made pariahs should we wish to celebrate Israeli culture. Furthermore, I have heard the speeches you were presented for the motion were verging on anti-Semitic, which is completely unacceptable. As I’m sure you are well aware, this anti-Semitism is prevalent around Europe, and it is now going to spread onto campus. You ‘condemning’ this, or passing ridiculous motions to combat anti-Semitism, will not help the situation. The damage is done. I have absolutely no faith that you will do anything to prevent this from happening, seeing as you will be solely responsible if it does.
It is difficult to explain the emotional connection many Jewish people feel towards Israel. Some see Israel as a cure for anti-Semitism, and a way for Jewish people to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, just like any other nation. Others feel it restores Jewish dignity and enables us to defend ourselves. There is, of course, the undoubted historical and religious connection to the land, and it has restored the Hebrew language. Some of us simply have family there. Whatever view one decides to take, Israel and Judaism are extremely interlinked. As Sam Gross succinctly put it – ‘BDS targets Jews. It’s a fact. Israel is a part of my and many other people’s Judaism – to target it is to target us’. And yes, it does target Jewish individuals – for example, kosher food was not allowed at Manchester last year because it had Hebrew writing on it. This is unacceptable and unjustifiable. We will NOT allow you to make us feel ashamed about our culture and who we are. Dialogue and cooperation is the way forward – why don’t you endorse initiatives between Muslim and Jewish students and encourage debate – in other words, do what you are elected to do? If we cannot get along, how can we expect our governments to?
Universities are meant to be the place for tolerance, understanding and diversity – all which has just been disgraced by the vote to endorse BDS. I can assure you, I and many other Jewish and non-Jewish students will be fighting this decision immediately, and we politely decline to boycott anything Israeli and will be bringing Israeli products onto campus. May I remind you that this is not Nazi Germany? I know you may feel I am being over dramatic, but this is how strongly I feel about this issue.
I would like to thank the 18 people with sense who voted against this motion, and those that have replied to my previous emails with nuance and rationality. The rest of you have not responded to my valid concerns, and I am ashamed to be sharing a university platform with you. You have abused your power that was entrusted to you to ensure the safety of ALL students, regardless of their race or ethnicity. This is collective punishment against Israelis based on their government’s actions, something the BDS claim to be against. It has given a completely one sided view to a conflict, which is a great shame as I would hope educated people at university would understand that it is not simply black and white. It is a complex situation. It is no wonder the wider student population is completely disinterested and alienated by student politics; How can 41 people vote for a motion on behalf of 7 million students, some of which have not even started university yet?
I am feeling extremely saddened and angry that this has passed. Additionally, as I am sure you don’t want to look like hypocrites in the way BDS founder Omar Barghouti, who studies at Tel Aviv University, and who also calls for the ‘euthanasia’ of Israel, may I add. Therefore, at the end of this list, I have kindly included a list for you of ALL the items that are to be boycotted, or you will be guilty of double standards and racism.
I hope you will reconsider your decision, in the name of diversity and pluralism.
List of items to be boycotted by NUS:
AOL Time Warner
Time Life magazine, CNN, ICQ
Apax Partners; Jonny Rockets, Sunglass Hut.
Apple; Iphone, iPod, Mac etc
Arsenal Football Club
Coca-Cola; Fruitopia, Fanta, Kia Orange, Lilt, Sprite, Sunkist..
Computer virus protection software (any company)
Danone; HP foods, Evian, Volvic, Jacob
Delta Galil; Hema, Barbie, Carrefour, Auchan, Tchibo, Victoria’s Secret, GAP, Banana Republic, Structure, J-Crew, JC Penny, Pryca, DIM, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Playtex, cK, Hugo Boss, M&S
Estée Lauder; Aramis, Clinique, DKNY, Prescriptives, Origins, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Tommy Hilfiger, Jane, Donna Karan, Aveda, Stila, Jo Malone, Bumble & Bumble, Kate Spade
Home Depot; Villager’s Hardware, Georgia Lighting, Apex Supply, EXPO Design Centres
Johnson & Johnson
Kleenex, Kotex, Huggies, Andrex
Lewis Trust Group; River Island, Isrotel hotels, Britannia Pacific
The Limited Inc; Express stores, Lerner New York, Structure, New York & Company, Mast Industries, Intimate Brands, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, White Barn Candle Company, Henri Bendel
L’Oreal; Giorgio Armani, Redken 5th Avenue, Lancome Paris, Vichy, Cacharel, La Roche-Posay, Garnier, Biotherm, Helena Rubinstein, Maybelline, Ralph Lauren, Carson
Marks & Spencer; M&S, St.Michaels
Nestle; Nescafé, Perrier, Vittel, Pure Life, Carnation, Libby’s, Milkmaid, Nesquik, Maggi, Buitoni, Cross & Blackwell, KitKat, Milkybar, Quality Street, Smarties, After Eight, Aero, Polo, Lion, Felix cat food
News Corporation; TV: Fox, Sky, Star, Phoenix, Granada, CNBC. UK newspapers: Standard Newspaper, The Sun, The Times. Australian Newspapers: The Telegraph , Gold Coast Bulletin, Herald Sun, Independent, Sunday Mail. US newspapers: New York Post. Publishers: Harper Collins Ragan, Zondervan, National Geographical, Nursery World, Rawkus, NDS, Mushroom Records, ChinaByte.com, Festival Records
New World Entertainment
Forbes; Sara Lee, Hanes, Playtex, Champion, Leggs, Douwe Egberts, Bryan, DIM, Ambi Pur, Bali, Superior Coffee, Just My Size, Kiwi, Maison Cafe, Nur die, Pilao, Lovable, Outer Banks, Wonderbra, Sanex, Pickwick, Gossard, Body Mist, Brylcreem, Aqua Velva, Radox
Starbucks; Seattle Coffee, Pasqua, Hear Music, Tazo
Voice mail technology
Ben Abboudi’s Twitter is @Bouds92