Malia Bouattia, 28, is the first black Muslim woman elected to lead the National Union of Students. Jewish students’ groups reacted with alarm, citing her references to the influence of the “Zionist-led media,” her calling Birmingham University “something of a Zionist outpost,” and a meeting where she spoke which was advertised with a poster of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. Students at Cambridge University called her election “a horrifying message to Jewish students,” and students at Oxford, York, Durham, Edinburgh, King’s College London and the London School of Economics have called for their unions to sever ties with the national union following Bouattia’s election.
Bouattia responded to her critics on Sunday, on the pages of the Guardian, in an op-ed titled “I’m the new NUS president – and no, I’m not an anti-Semitic ISIS sympathizer.” In the piece the new NUS leader answers most of the claims against her, including the accusation that she delayed an National Executive Council motion condemning ISIS, which she claimed she did because the motion sounded like a condemnation of all Muslims.
Then she dealt with the Z word.
“I want to be clear, again, that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is in no way me taking issue with being Jewish. In fact, Zionist politics are held by people from a variety of different backgrounds and faiths. For me it has been, and will always be, a political argument, not one of faith or ethnic identity.” Which is to say, I’m not anti-Jewish, I’m only anti-Zionist.”
“Zionism, religion and ethnicity must not be seen as one and the same,” Bouattia explained, clarifying, “If the language I have used in the past has been interpreted any other way then let me make this clear – it was never my intention, although my political ideologies and beliefs remain unchanged.
“There is no place for anti-Semitism in the student movement, or in society. If any of my previous discourse has been interpreted otherwise, such as comments I once made about Zionism within the media, I will revise it to ensure there is no room for confusion,” she promised.
In a video clip of a conference on “Gaza and the Palestinian Revolution” in September 2014, Bouattia, speaking in her official role as NUS black students officer, said: “With mainstream Zionist-led media outlets — because once again we’re dealing with the population of the global south — resistance is presented as an act of terrorism.”
In the same speech, Bouattia said Middle East peace talks were a “strengthening of the colonial project.” She also said that “to consider that Palestine will be free only by means of fundraising, non-violent protest and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is problematic… My issue is that whilst at times it is tactically used or presented as the non-violent option, it could be misunderstood as the alternative to resistance by the Palestinian people.”
In other words, it’s OK if you use non-violent actions against the Zionists, as long as you remember that there’s always the violent option.
In her Guardian op-ed, Bouattia claims, “I was being critical of media outlets that unquestioningly support Israel’s actions and maltreatment of Palestinians, I was not talking about the media as a whole, or repeating despicable anti-Semitic prejudice. The first thing I did on being elected was to hold a meeting with the Union of Jewish Students, and these meetings are set to continue.”
Hopefully, she means only the non-violent kind of meetings, and not those where UK Black and Arab students lay siege to appearances of Israeli speakers and terrorize their audience.JNi.Media