Pro-Palestine activist Malia Bouattia elected as President of UK’s National Union of Students By: Vyara Gylsen

27-04-2016 14:20

By: Vyara Gylsen


Last Wednesday, pro-Palestine solidarity activist Malia Bouattia was the first Black Muslim woman to be elected as president of the UK's National Union of Students (NUS), in 94 years of NUS history. She has been described as the overwhelmingly popular choice, winning the first round by more than 50 delegates and 50.9 per cent of the total vote. 

Malia's election bodes well in regards to the progress made within the NUS in favour of radical left politics and support for Palestinian rights. She is well known for her active support of Palestine, especially the championing of the boycott and divestment of companies identified as supporting Israel materially, economically, militarily, and/or as helping maintain the illegal Israeli settlements.
For this reason, she is currently facing a brutal attack from right-wing media with a pro-Israel bias, in an attempt to damage her reputation and weaken her position by falsely accusing her of being an "anti-Semitic terrorist sympathiser". 
This type of attack from right wing media and zionist lobby is not unusual towards BDS campaigners, including many Jews, who oppose Israel's illegal military occupation, human rights abuses or illegal settlement activity.  
A number of notable Universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, King's College and London School of Economics have called for their student unions to sever ties with NUS over the allegations.
In her response to the attacks, Malia told the Guardian: 
"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. Zionism, religion and ethnicity must not be seen as one and the same."
The election has been referred to as one of the most divisive moments in the National Union of Student's recent history but also a landmark victory for the radical left in the student body and a promising development for the Palestine Solidarity Movement within the NUS. 
Malia has a history of opposing racism, fascism and hate crime in addition to championing interfaith work as part of her broader fight to oppose all types of prejudice and discrimination, including anti-Semitism. 
The attacks on Malia from pro-Israel media and pro-Israel lobby are a microcosm of the false reasoning behind the attack on Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) internationally as a whole, and their desparate attempts to falsely disguise anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism. 
However, these attacks have also provided the rare opportunity of using mainstream media as a platform to alert the public to Israel's violations against the Palestinian people and the pro-Palestine perspective. 
Since being in the media spotlight, Malia has continued to defend BDS and comdenmed Israel's violations of international and humanitarian law.
She has brought this discussion to the public forefront with her election, with a huge mandate from the majority of the NUS membership, comprising of seven million students. 
Malia's role as president will take effect from July. We can only hope that at the very least, this will increase the public awareness to the arguments that BDS is not anti-Semitic, and neither is opposing Israeli state violence.

Topics : #Anti-zionism #Israel #Palestine #BDS #Malia Bouattia #NUS #Students #UK #Europe #Israeli Violations #Media #Anti-Semitism

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