The Union of Jewish Students, comprised of 64 Jewish Societies on UK campuses “from Exeter to Edinburgh, London to Liverpool and many more in-between,” and representing more than 8,500 Jewish students in the UK and Ireland, on Sunday gave their vote to Josh Holt to become their next president. Holt received 682 of 1049 votes cast for a field of four candidates (one of whom was dubiously named “Re-open nominations” and received 20 votes).
In third place, with 89 votes, came Israeli-born Eran Cohen, a fellow celebrated by Israel’s Ha’aretz in its late Sunday night story headlined “Israeli-born BDS backer loses U.K. student union bid.” But he did defeat “Re-open nominations” by a whopping 69 votes.
Among the UJS core values is the belief that “Jewish students should have the support and space to explore their connection and relationship with Israel.” This explains why Eran Cohen attracted so much attention despite his miserable loss: because in a near-meaningless organization, where only about an eighth of the members bothered to vote for president, a full 89 of those picked a guy who advocates a boycott of Israel. This, apparently, was the outcome of their exploration of their relationship with Israel.
Eran Cohen was described by Ha’aretz as member of the UK’s Jewish anarchist collective Jewdas and a committed “diasporist.” It’s tough walking into two previously unknown concepts in one story, right? Well, imagine my surprise… OK, let’s deal with them, one at a time.
Jewdas, “Radical voice for the alternative diaspora,” is reminiscent of the 1960s’ Youth International Party, a.k.a. the Yippies, who fought the Johnson and Nixon tyrannies with humor and, occasionally, rage. They were often referred to as the “Groucho Marxists.” They were almost exclusively Jewish: Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner, Stew Albert, Wolfe Lowenthal, Brad Fox. Ah, the days when Jewish leftists still had a sense of humor…
In Jewdas you’ll find promising articles, such as “BREAKING: Discovery of 1939 message of ‘congratulations’ from Board of Deputies to General Francisco Franco,” and “Exclusive: New Testament chapter reveals Jesus became a Tory.” But much of it is raw, nasty anti-Zionist and especially anti-settlements inyourfacials.
“Diasporist,” to my shame, is a very old concept, established by Ronald Brooks Kitaj (1932-2007), an American artist “with Jewish roots” (he was totally Jewish, btw), who spent much of his life in England. In 1989, Kitaj published his “First Diasporist Manifesto,” a short book analyzing his own alienation and its contribution to his art. In it, he stated: “The Diasporist lives and paints in two or more societies at once,” and, “You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Diasporist.”
What did we learn in this strange report today?
1. Almost nobody gives a flying hoot about the UJS, especially not UK Jewish students.
2. Out of that miniscule, itsybitsy minority, a negligible number cares a hoot about BDS.
3. Jewdas is mostly unfunny, especially compared with master shenaniganers like Abbie Hoffman.
4. Jews become restless in captivity and start gnawing on their own flesh, which totally explains BDS.
5. “Inyourfacial” is totally yes a word.
We now return to our regularly scheduled reports.David Israel