A few months ago, I declared a vow of abstinence from writing; I would not engage myself, I said, in pseudo-intellectual political theorising or angry jotting which might come to haunt me in 20 years. I would, I promised myself, focus on my final exams which are beginning on Wednesday, and take up writing again over the long summer. Why? Because I am utterly committed to becoming a student at the University I’ve wanted to go to since I was little, and getting the grades necessary to do that. I am, perhaps very naively, bursting to get out into the wider world, and I am very much looking forward to becoming a student.
That is, until this happened. The “National Executive Council” of the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS), of which I was on the cusp of joining, namely for the amazing discounts, elected to boycott Israel by a 19 to 12 majority. In utter contravention to a decision taken earlier this year by the much larger, much more representative Union conference. Metsuyan. Great.
In case you were wondering, this is the same NUS that hasn’t condemned Syria’s Assad for ongoing chemical weapon usage. The same selective NUS that refuses to condemn Iran for its nuclear ambitions or its destabilisation of the region. The same NUS that will, of course, not blame Hamas for its rockets or Islamist oppression of Gaza. Oh, yes, the very same farce of a Student Union that refused a motion to condemn the deranged, so-called “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” for fear of being denounced as being Islamophobic. And yet, it is all too happy to discriminatively condemn and boycott the only Jewish State on Earth, the only democracy and reliable friend of the West in the Middle East, without a second thought. The double, triple, quadruple standard is alive and well, as the sanctimonious crusaders of the NUS have decided to hop on the bandwagon of “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions”- A group whose sole commitment is the faciliation of the one state solution and with it, the annihilation of the State of Israel. Achla. Great. Student life awaits.
The utterly negligible impact the passing of this motion will make on anything, on anyone’s life, anywhere, not least in Israel (do they care?) or the Palestinian Authority is irrelevant to them. As are, it seems, the other issues that exist in the rest of the Middle East which they have chosen not to address, such as the over 6500 dead in Syria last month, amongst so many others. Indeed, these are problems which would clearly not be solved by the unilateral, unsustainable implementation of a two-state solution, or as BDS seems to advocate, the debilitating and destructive implementation of a one-state killing field.
My biggest annoyance, however, stands independent of any Middle-East-specific matter. I just cannot understand for the life of me why student unions are so concerned about international politics. Anyone who joins the NUS, surely, believes that it would faithfully preoccupy itself with student concerns; Namely: student loans, living costs and living standards. You simply do not join a Student Union because of geopolitics, or any politics, left or right. And isn’t it quite grossly exploitative of the many people who join the Union for Pizza Express discounts, to add this self-righteous, missionising addendum to their mission statement’s opening line:
“NUS champions students to shape the future of education – and create a better world”
And then using the justification of the last sentence as a springboard to play “armchair diplomats”? Let me tell you, if you join the NUS because you want a better world, you would have a better shot joining Greenpeace, the Boy Scouts, the Rotary Club, or maybe even B’nei Akiva.
And again, students are above the age of 18. They can watch the news, read some books and make their own minds up, without unrepresentatively being spoken for into this bloc of “seven million strong”- Indeed, I can only imagine how the many proudly Zionist students in the Union feel today. Students are able to vote, join political parties, join individual pressure groups, join individual student societies on their campuses. You join a Student Union in the hope of being represented as a student, on student matters- Not with aspirations of having your name used in order to support political interest groups, often without even knowing, with such decisions being made on the whims of a “National Executive Council” of 35 people (which itself is elected by a mere 1200 out of the plus 7,000,000 eligible voters’ mandate).
Not only that. Most NUS members, I am sure, don’t support this motion. If they even know. I am sure that the overwhelming majority of NUS members just wish that everybody could play nicely. No, that wasn’t meant to be patronising; Anyone of sound mind would wish the same, including myself. So that the National Student Union can take such a one-sided, simplistic and fringe stance on such a complicated, complex and disputed issue is both conceited and worrying- The fringe is seemingly moving to the centre, and the Union, in this moment of supercilious stupor, looks more ridiculous than ever.
This is an unprecedented, unnecessary and wholly inconducive measure, and the fact of the matter is- If the NUS wants to boycott Israel, I’m afraid I’ll have to reciprocate. And anyone who cares about the future of student politics, deplores the dangerously misled continuation of the quest for a panacea to the Middle East’s problems, let alone about the hypocritical offensive against the only democracy, only normalcy in the region, should follow suit.