The defeat of Malia Bouattia as National President marks the beginning, not the end, of the NUS’ long journey back to credibility amongst its Jewish members.
Malia Bouattia had a long history of anti-Semitic rhetoric, and her refusal to acknowledge the scale of the issue was deeply problematic. At last nights hustings she refused to acknowledge the specificity of pernicious nature of anti-semitism, instead opting to rail against “all racism.” It played into a narrative that has gone on for a year- that her NUS was not taking the issue seriously, and worse still, even exacerbating it.
As a Jewish delegate to NUS Conference, I knew that this election represented the last chance for the organisation to win back the trust of Jewish students. With Malia’s emphatic loss to Shakira Martin, the NUS has given itself a lifeline. It can now get on with tackling anti-semitism in deed as well as word, and make Jewish students feel safe on their own campuses.
In turn, Jewish students must grasp this opportunity. We must lead a nation conversation that teaches all students how to combat all anti-semitism, to defend synagogues on campus and yes- to learn how to speak about Israel without being anti-Semitic.
Before today, most Jewish students looked upon the NUS with disgust. We now have an opportunity to set that right, and tackle the root of the problem. Let us now take this opportunity, and begin remaking our student politics anew.